This I Believe

Eli - LA, California
Entered on June 20, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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On my bedside table are scattered objects; a yellow and blue alarm clock, seventeen pennies and four nickels, a barely burnt candle, various power cords and a cell phone, sunglasses, lamp, and an empty packet of sour punch straws. The phone might ring with a friendly invitation, the sunglasses make me look pretty tight, and the pennies could probably buy me a plastic toy or something equally insignificant. Most importantly, though, is the crinkled sour sugar coated red plastic wrapper. Three round red faces adorn the top of the package; each grimacing with yellow lightening bolts shooting out of their wobbly grins, displaying the EXTREME sourness inside of the deceptively cheery container. I believe in sour punch straws.

I was once a starburst kid, young and ignorant. The sharp edges of the colorful wrappers, the waxy coating over sweet, square deliciousness. Candy that tastes like colors, not actual flavors, is hard to argue with. But soon our love affair grew stale. The same pattern of yellow, orange, pink, red, over and over, failed to bring me the same rush as it once did. Life became not meaningless, but no longer rife with the particular pleasure that sugary perfection can bring.

It was a Tuesday when my enlightenment occurred. I was browsing, disenchanted, through the candy section of the gas station at the end of my street. The familiar boxes and bars looked up at me dully. Hot tamales, fickle friends that lure you in with tart explosive flavor only to sear off the bumps on your tongue, made for kids seeking a rush rather than a flavorful treat. Snickers, gooey and crunchy but ultimately nauseating, made for those who never leave their couch. Red vines. Not even worth mentioning. Finally, I turned the aisle and confronted a new section: bagged candy. I hesitated, and picked up a weighted bag of sour patch kids. I slid a dollar twenty-five under the glass divider and walked out of the store, tearing the plastic corner with anticipation. My first bite into on of the colorful children flipped my world upside down. I realized I was choosing my candy for all the wrong reasons, searching for the best buzz rather then the most comforting, gratifying happiness that comes with such chewy delights.

That afternoon, I found salvation. The puckering, sugary, chewy enjoyment that made my eyes water just a little was cause for celebration. Now, alone in my bed in the wee hours of the night with another 45 pages to read, I turn to the sour straws for comfort. During one of the five-minute breaks of the SAT, it was the friendly pink crescents of sour watermelons that stopped me from giving up on the seemingly endless similes and tangent curves and proper syntax. In the long nights of college applications to come, I know it will be the familiar embrace of tart, sugary chewy morsels that will keep me awake. Sour candy, in you I believe.