Sweets to the Sweet

First of all, I have to mention that my paternal grandmother used to say that–“Sweets to the sweet”–whenever she offered me or my siblings candy, and I still remember how amused and horrified I was when my older sister (an English major) told me that when the queen says it in Hamlet, she’s scattering flowers on Ophelia’s GRAVE.  So maybe it’s not the best thing to say when you’re handing out peppermints.

But that’s not the point here.  The point here is that I’ve been thinking and I’ve decided that females crave sugar more than men do.  I’m not a scientist.  Or an anthropologist.  Or a dietician.  I’m just a keen observer of human nature.  Well, not all that keen.  Really not keen at all.  More of a lazy glancer.

Still, basing my conclusions on an admittedly fairly small sample size of two families (the one I grew up in and the one I grew big with), I’d have to say I’m one hundred percent right about this.  Girls want dessert all the time.  Boys can take or leave it.

I grew up in a family with three other girls and one boy.  The four sisters couldn’t get through the day without thinking about brownies.  Basically, those thoughts could be boiled down to: “Do we have any brownies left in the house and, if not, could we bake some?”  They didn’t have to be brownies, of course.  I’m using the word “brownie” as shorthand for “any sweet thing that has lots of chocolate in it.”  Chocolate chip cookies count.  So do these things called fudgie-oatmeal squares that were fudgie and had oatmeal in them.  If I want to conjure up the image of two of my sisters during their teen years, I instantly picture them in our kitchen, bending over an 8 inch square pan, pushing the layers of the fudgie-oatmeal squares into place with their fingers.

If your first thought on looking at this is, "I have to go into the kitchen and bake a batch of brownies," I'm guessing you have two X chromosomes.

My brother meanwhile was happy to eat dessert but he could skip it without regret, an attitude that has always made me want to kill him since his waistline has basically hovered between 28 and 29 inches for his entire adult life.  He did admit once that he had put on a couple of pounds so he cut out junk food and lost the weight within the week.  (See, don’t you want to kill him, too?)  He never bothered to learn to bake.  He didn’t need to.  His sisters were a never-ending source of dessert and when he stopped living with us, he simply stopped eating brownies.  His life was fine without sugar.

Okay, so that’s one family.  I myself have three boys and one girl.  Guess who is on an never-ending campaign to increase the ratio of sugar to any other substance in her diet?  (Oops–that “her” was a give-away, wasn’t it?)

My daughter sees the main course as basically a negotiating chip: “I ate all the lasagna you put on my plate AND some salad, so can I have a sour punch straw, a brownie, and a scotchmallow for dessert?”   And she’s become the brownie-baker of the family, ready to whip up a batch when the need is too great to resist.

My older boys have learned to cook, too: one makes quesadillas, grilled cheese, and nachos (he clearly has a grease and cheese craving) and the other makes elaborate gourmet meals for himself.  Neither of them bakes.  BECAUSE THEY DON’T CARE THAT MUCH ABOUT DESSERT.

And in case that isn’t proof enough, we recently had another female join our household, my 22 year old niece.  The other night she looked around the kitchen, sighed, and said, “We need brownies.”

I rest my case.



Filed under chocolate, family, food

6 responses to “Sweets to the Sweet

  1. Katherine

    Sounds like the females in this family. And grilled cheese and nachos are my son’s absolute favorite. I just started making him order pasta at restaurants because I am worried about the amount of grease he is eating. My daughter’s favorite line is “how many more bites do I have to take to get desert?”

  2. Claudia

    I think boys seem to like sweets up until puberty and then can take or leave them. Not only am I convinced there is something different about sugar and makes and females, I think that the week before a woman menstruates she will KILL for sweets. I have always known I was about to get my period when I found myself breaking open a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips supposed to be used for cookies “for the kids” and thought, “Just one. Okay. Just four. Well, just twenty….” The desperate, absolute need for sweets, the willingness to substitute utter crap for a meal, is, alas, female. And I didn’t know that about “Sweets for the sweet.” It’s fascinating. I wonder how flowers turned into desserts in our language. Perhaps we also crave flowers more than men?

  3. Claire

    I’m sure somewhere in a closet I have a paper about the use of flower imagery in HAMLET. I’d offer to dig it up, but it would just depress me.

  4. annie

    So that’s what’s wrong with Dick. Thank you for clearing that up.

  5. Julie

    Most of the time it went beyond sweets to CHOCOLATE. Even if Mom made serveral desserts (which she often did) if one of them wasn’t chocolate, we were very unhappy and felt that they didn’t “count.” I have to say that even today a fruit dessert, while often very yummy, just doesn’t cut it.

  6. Claire

    Yep, good point, Julie. It was about the chocolate for us. I will say, though, that Annie likes non-chocolate candy a lot, too. And soda. (Which is the one thing I heavily restrict–for some reason, I’m okay with brownies and the occasional piece of candy, but I think soda is the devil’s drink.)

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