Opening Shots: A summer 'suite' spot
August 11, 2008
No gang, this is not the way I dress at the office. Okay, I do wear Hawaiian shirts occasionally, but I don’t come in with the flashing neon sunglasses. Actually, this photo was taken during a luau we threw for my son and his fiancée just prior to them getting married on July 5 in Melbourne, Fla.
Instead of a traditional bridal party rehearsal dinner, which essentially restricts the number of guests, the missus and I opted to invite everyone that was already there to join us for “the largest rehearsal dinner ever thrown,” i.e., a luau.
As you can imagine, it was rather festive, with Mello (yes, that’s his name, mon!) playing on the steel drums, a sumptuous buffet spread, fruit smoothies (with or without alcohol) at the bar, fireworks going off later in the night and the never-ending conga line working its way by the pool.
But I don’t want to bore you with pre- and post-wedding details in my editorial. What I wanted to point out is that my wife and I had packed some goodies for the trip, figuring people would be stopping by our suite throughout the five-day celebration. (Hey, after all, it was a Polish/American wedding and we were marrying off No.1 son; he also happens to be our only son.)
One of the goodies (aside from the Polish sausage, smoked meats and Polish rye bread), was a suitcase of sweet treats that have come into my hands as a result of being editor. Occasionally - although not as often as I would like (Hint! Hint! Hint!) - Stephanie Hildebrandt, my associate editor, and I receive confectionery samples in the mail. And, more often than not, we pass them along.
Stephanie’s a bit more generous with them in the office; I tend to pass along items to my close family members (and there’s many of them in Chicago). In the end, there always seems to be a bag of confections at home that we haven’t had a chance to distribute.
In this instance, Basia, my wife, thought it would be a good idea to take them down to Florida for our “candy bowl” in the suite. I wasn’t so sure about the concept, figuring it was going to be pretty toasty down there, even if we were staying right on the ocean (Melbourne, Fla. is about 50-plus miles southeast of Orlando and the Hilton Melbourne Beach hotel sits right on the beach.)
So, in our little carry-on, we packed some personalized M&Ms (they’re the ones that had Gabriel’s and Elizabeth’s – the newly weds - faces imprinted on them), Barton’s Nutjob bars, Arway chocolate-coated peanuts, Madelaine chocolate balls, Brown & Haley Almond and Candy Cane Rocas, Hershey’s Bliss and Maramor’s Omega-3 Squares.
Well, in betwixt beer, wine and various other cocktails and spirits, our guests gleefully devoured all the candy we had. But what really impressed me was the fact that many of the 20- and 30-somethings couldn’t pass up the sweet treats.
Keep in mind that the suite had tortilla chips, potato chips, cashews and even “bird seed” trail mix (my brother-in-law is into healthy, organic snacks) readily available. Not surprisingly, those snacks didn’t last long either. Nevertheless, I was pleased to see that sweets still hold a special place among the “Young Turks” demographic.
I imagine that marketing departments from several multinational confectionery companies have a complete profile on these evolving consumers, the generations X and Y. Nevertheless, the focus these days has been on us aging Baby Boomers whose tastes and preferences are leaning toward more exotic, more intense and more functional confections.
And while all this is true, let’s not forget our sons and daughters who – as I can personally attest – also enjoy candy.
Oh yea, there was still another sweet treat I needed to mention. One of our guests who happened to travel all the way from Aix-de-Provence, France, for the wedding, brought us one of the region’s most famous sweets, Calisson d’Aix.
Produced by Confiserie d’Entre-casteaux, these special marzipan-type confections were said to have been created by the chef to Rene I d’Anjou, King of Naples and Count of Provence in 1454. According to the legend, when Rene I chose a 22-year-old to be his wife, the young beauty wasn’t exactly thrilled about marrying a 45-year-old husband, even if he was king. Supposedly, the Calissons cheered her up and yes…they lived together in bliss for 26 years. Goes to show you the staying power behind sweets and newlyweds.