Ed. Note: When's the last time you tried a new candy—just because? For the SE staff, that time is now. Each day for the two weeks leading up to Halloween, we will try a candy we haven't had before, and tell the tale.
Most of my notions of class and refinement can be traced back to Sunday night dinners at my grandmother's or aunt's. Grandma Dottie served her chopped liver in a carved crystal bowl and never took off her pearls to grind the night's gefilte fish. Aunt Jackie could almost quote the Silver Palate cookbook from memory and her ratatouille made her something of a '90's cooking badass.
Dot and Jackie were the kind of hosts to keep several bowls of candy on hand in every room of their homes. M&Ms made frequent appearances, but most were the kind that were only kept in production to fill old Jewish ladies' candy dishes: chocolate-covered marshmallow rings, butterscotch buttons, and inexplicably my favorite of the lot, Mary Janes.
Mary Janes, those get-stuck-in-your-teeth-forever tablets of peanut butter and molasses-flavored syrup, which approximate peanut and caramel flavors but never really deliver, are almost objectively terrible. But see above: these ladies were some class acts, and in my developing mind, everything they touched, candy included, were paragons of taste. Which brings me to Goldenberg's Peanut Chews, which I tasted for the first time just last week.
Every Mary Jane wishes, as it's sealed in its tomb of a yellow wax paper wrapper, that it were a Goldenberg Peanut Chew instead. And the small chocolate nuggets, whose invention dates back to a Romanian immigrant during WWI, certainly qualify as old and classy enough to join my matriarchs' candy bowls. When I take off the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia I realize it's the candy I should have been getting pudgy off of all those years ago.
The Peanut Chew is old timey done right: roasted peanuts are suspended in thick, chewy caramel, then coated in surprisingly good crisp dark chocolate. Consider it, if you will, like a grownup Snickers, all the essentials with none of that nougat mishegas to get in the way. The flavor is darker, roastier, more intensely caramel, and yes—I'll say it—plain better than a Snickers (if less salty). Send your lynch mobs if you must.
Eight small bars come to a package, laughably suggesting a portion size you will of course ignore. But they're the perfect little bite to go in a candy dish of your own. I know they'll be in mine when I retire.