I was awash in hand-me-downs when I was a kid: clothes, shoes, books, magazines. It worked out well when they came from Gretchen, the cool, older girl who lived next door (brand-name jeans, the odd Esprit T-shirt, a relatively current issue of Mademoiselle); less so when they came from my East Coast cousins (nobody in urban northeast Ohio had ever seen, much less wore, Madras shorts).
To me, the real prize was the books. I was a voracious, and indiscriminate, reader. My parents didn’t monitor anything I read, nor did they do an edit of any of the hand-me-down books, which meant that the occasional V.C. Andrews novel was in the mix with the back issues of Cricket. Once, Wifey accompanied The Giving Tree. (N.B., Those are for two very, very different audiences.)
But my all-time favorite hand-me-down book was Harriet the Spy. Wait -- let me back up: Did you have a spy phase when you were little? I was (and am) incredibly nosy, which I assumed would make me an ideal spy. I must have checked out the KnowHow Book of Spycraft from the library at least three dozen times; it taught you how to use codes, create disguises, make invisible ink. And then when Harriet landed in my paws, it was as though the universe was telling me, “Being nosy is your calling.”
That Harriet’s life was more than a little exotic also appealed to me. There were no dumbwaiters in my house. Where did Ole Golly get her name? And what the heck is an egg cream? Because that sounded just plain gross.
I’ve sinced learned that egg creams are the work of Baby Jesus himself, and contain no egg whatsoever: just milk, chocolate syrup, and seltzer. Here in New York, there are a handful of old-fashioned soda fountains that will still make one for you, like at Katz’s Delicatessen, considered among the best in the city.
But if you don’t live in or near New York, or have zero access to olde-tyme things like soda fountains where you are, a whiff of this Chocolate Egg Cream Candle, a collaboration between Katz’s and niche perfumer Joya, is still worth your while.
This candle is the closest thing to “real” chocolate that I’ve ever encountered in a non-edible item. It’s very, very hard to replicate chocolate accurately in a beauty product or candle; most of the time, they end up smelling soapy, powdery, or generally off-putting, like the bootleg chocolate you find at the Dollar Tree. This is softly sweet, not cloying -- the candle equivalent of comfort food.
It’s even more difficult to convey the sensation of ice-cold, frothy chocolate, but somehow, Joya’s perfumer, Frederick Bouchardy, managed to do it. And if Harriet were around, I'm sure she'd figure out exactly how.
So, chocolate-scented beauty products -- do you like them? Favorite children's book? And how nosy are you?