Our biggest culture divide right now is not between conservative and liberal, rich and poor or even black and white.
Our current biggest cultural divide is between people who think snacks that look like Halloween decorations are cute and adorable, and people who think they are just kind of lame.
I am unequivocally on Team Lame. My boss, on the other hand, finds Halloween snacks to be irresistible.
So I made up a batch of Halloween treats that looked like pumpkins. And do you know what? They were all cute and adorable.
For obvious reasons I started with Pumpkin Rice Krispie Treats. These are Rice Krispie Squares with peanut butter added for extra calories. I mean flavor. Anyway, they are colored orange, shaped into pumpkin shapes (which is to say balls) and topped with a miniature Tootsie Roll on top for a stem and a piece of green fruit roll-up to resemble a leaf.
These tasted great. Of course they did, they're Rice Krispie Squares with peanut butter. The Tootsie Roll is a surprisingly complementary addition, and the fruit roll-up leaf (I used sour apple flavor, for its green color) made a delightful contrast.
The only problem I had with these Pumpkin Rice Krispie Treats was drawing jack-o'-lantern faces in front. I used black-colored frosting, but sticky Rice Krispies do not make the best canvas for any sort of artistic endeavor. But at least I did well enough to get the idea across.
I next made the simplest Halloween snack ever, Easy Pumpkin Pretzels. All you do is take mini-pretzels and dip them in melted white chocolate that you have colored orange with food coloring. Then, while the orange chocolate is still melted, you top them with a green M&M to resemble a stem.
How does it taste? It tastes like salty pretzels coated in white chocolate. That is a classic combination for any time of the year.
Keeping to that same thing, I next made Pumpkin Pretzel Bites, which are much the same idea.
You start with a mini-pretzel that you top with a Hershey's Kiss. Microwave that until the chocolate is about half-melted. You should be able to press miniature M&Ms (M&M Baking Bits) into the chocolate without the chocolate draining through the holes of the pretzel. Then you press orange miniature M&Ms into the chocolate and put a green one on top for the stem.
How does it taste? It tastes like salty pretzels coated in chocolate. Frankly, I like that more than pretzels coated in white chocolate, and it is an even better classic combination for any time of the year.
After all that sugar, I needed a savory dish, not to mention protein. So I made Pumpkin Cheese Balls, which are basically miniature cheese balls that look like pumpkins.
For the decoration, I rolled them in a mixture of paprika and smoked paprika, and used a knife to make pumpkin-like indentations on the sides. A pit of green onion on the top to look like a stem completed the illusion.
As for the taste, they were fairly standard (which is to say delicious) cheese balls. I made them from cream cheese mixed with shredded sharp cheddar cheese, roasted red peppers, a hint of garlic and a pop of cayenne.
As good as they were by themselves, I imagine they would be even better spread on a cracker. But then you'd lose the whole part about them looking like pumpkins.
After all that work, I was ready for a drink. So naturally I made one with pumpkin in it.
A pumpkin old-fashioned isn't really an old-fashioned. It begins with bourbon, but then adds the orange warmth of Grand Marnier, the rich sweetness of maple syrup, a sharp counterpoint of Angostura bitters and the seasonal surprise of pumpkin puree.
It is a little sweet but quite pleasant, and it goes down smoothly. After a couple of them, all of those pumpkin-shaped Halloween treats would seem cute and adorable.