America is an homogenous place. Sine moving to New York last January I’ve been surprised to learn how similar the east coast is to the west coast commercially. A K-Mart in Washington State looks, feels and smells the same as K-Marts in New York. Prices are adjusted, but there is a familiarity in every branch within the franchise. This power of recognition is true for large department stores, chain-food restaurants, groceries, movie theaters – almost every brand with a nationally (or regionally) growing presence. The neighborhood is going global.
This is to say that I was surprised recently when I was unable to find a NutRageous candy bar on the east coast, a global product – and highly esteemed among chocolate and peanut butter lovers – I thought was available everywhere. It went like this: one day I wanted a NutRageous although I hadn’t had one in years. I went to the street corner to buy one from the newsstand but they only carried Reese’s peanut butter cups. I went to the Duane Reade’s, to CVS, to every grocery store I could. I went to Manhattan and Brooklyn. I searched in Washington D.C. and Virginia and I could find them nowhere. Yes, they were available on Google, but how could I know these weren’t stale versions of the 1994 original?
When I came home to Washington state, I couldn’t find them at the first two supermarkets I checked. I began to grieve the death of my third favorite candy bar. And then I discovered them in our neighborhood – our locally owned – grocer. It was like finding the last remaining gas station when the world has run out of oil.
We need our independent, local businesses. We need autonomy or we will all go crazy – or worse – we will run out of chocolate. I heard from a Canadian friend only a day ago that she was unable to find Robin Hood Nanaimo Bar Mix where she had always found it before. When I was in Vancouver in March I was also unable to find it. Have you searched for this indelible goodness lately? Has Stephen Harper got hold of Robin Hood, too? Stand on your guard, Canada. Stand on your guard.