Army-Surplus Smarties®

Since I’ve been getting *ahem* older, I’ve been trying to avoid stereotypical ‘Oldster’ thought-patterns. It’s been an uphill battle, but I’m still holding my own.

(Digression: The expression ‘holding my own’ always makes me snicker. Holding my own what, exactly?)

(Wait, isn’t rambling a sign of Oldster Brain? Uh-oh.)

Anyhow, despite my best efforts, I caught myself in Oldster Mode last week when this phrase popped out of my mouth: “These were so much better in the good old days!”

My trigger? Smarties®.

I’ve loved Smarties® for decades. Who wouldn’t love tiny chocolate discs coated with bright shiny candy? They’re perfect whether you gobble the whole boxful in a glorious pig-out, or savour just a few for a calorie-conscious mini-treat. And they make great poker chips: Colour -coded and delicious!

I try not to eat candy too often, but the other day I saw Smarties® on sale and a warm wave of nostalgia rolled over me. I paid and hustled them home, looking forward to the cheery click-click-click of tiny candies hitting the bowl in a cascade of bright happy colours.

Instead, I got this:

Where are my bright happy colours? What’s this sad faded red; this wishy-washy brown; and worst of all, khaki green?!? Yes, the candy shell tastes the same regardless of its colour; but Army-Surplus-Green candy is just wrong.

After the initial shock wore off, my logic-seeking brain still wouldn’t let go of the question: Seriously, why would they choose such a dismal colour? The main marketing point for any edible product is its eye-appeal: The promise, via appearance alone, that eating it will be a delicious, nay, sensuous experience. Near-orgasmic, even; according to some of the TV ads I’ve seen.

But these olive-drab Smarties® look like lima beans. Any kid will tell you that nothing says ‘grim, sad, and yucky’ like lima beans. Most adults don’t associate anything good with lima-bean-green, either. Definitely not orgasms. (And if I’m wrong about that, please don’t enlighten me.)

So was this a dye malfunction that slipped through quality control? A vulgar joke? Malicious sabotage? Or is there actually somebody, somewhere in the Smarties® factory, who eyed those lima bean lookalikes and thought ‘Yum’?

I can’t figure it out. But I couldn’t bear to see that repulsive colour in the bowl of treats I intended to offer my dinner guests, so I picked out all the green ones and ate them. It was a terrible sacrifice, but my guests’ comfort and happiness comes first. (Yes, the green ones were just as yummy as the others; but don’t tell. I’m bucking for ‘noble martyr’ here.)

But I still want to know: Why?

Book 18 update: Wrote two chapters. Deleted two chapters. Rewrote two chapters… hmmm. Can anybody spot an unproductive pattern here? But at least I’ve figured out what went wrong with the story and I’ve fixed the problem, so it should be clear(er) sailing now!

P.S. Thank you to everyone who’s noticed my reduced blogging frequency and checked to see if I’m okay. Your concern and well wishes mean a lot to me! I’m still struggling with this *&#$! back injury, so I’ve reduced my blog posts to once a month to salvage more ‘actual book-writing’ time. I’m waiting to see a couple more specialists, so I’m still clinging to hope! 🙂

29 thoughts on “Army-Surplus Smarties®

  1. Sorry I missed this post, Diane, but I’m catching up now! Hopefully, your back is getting stronger now.
    I haven’t had Smarties for eons, but after reading this, I’ve realised I want some. I remember there being a big hoo har about the blue Smarties, which sent everyone into overdrive, so the Smarties powers that be must’ve found that the red and green ones did the same. Luckily you were on hand to polish off those murky green ones before anyone saw them.
    As for the answer to your question, why, I don’t know about in Canada, but in the UK, they had the advertising slogan ‘only Smarties know the answer’… or the powers that be. I shall let you know if the UK Smarties have also turned into faded versions of themselves!


  2. Now I have to buy a box of Smarties just to see if there are calf-scour green ones. As to getting a grip on y0urself, we were driving somewhere as a family when a sports car went flying past, double clutching as the driver went through the gears. I said, Listen to that double clutch. My four year old daughter says I know what a double clutch is. she grabbed her crotch with both hands and yelled, I gotta pee!


  3. I’m so sorry your back issue is still there!!! Bummer!! Hope you get into a specialist soon to determine your course of action!! As for the lovely shade of green (kidding)….I applaud your action to remove them by eating them….cracks me up!!! Not sure why anyone would have candy that color….ugh!!! I applaud your focusing your time on the next book….can’t wait!!!


  4. I was going to say that the reason for the dull colours was the change to natural dyes but I see someone has already covered that. I like Smarties too but now I’ll never look at them the same way again (snot-coloured). Probably won’t make me stop eating them though.


  5. Ah yes, you’ve pulled a David Lee Roth, well, sort of. In the contract Van Halen would sign for venues they played at, they specified NO brown M&Ms in the candy dishes. If they found brown M&Ms, things….could get out of hand.

    I later read why they did it. It wasn’t superstition. It was a way they could tell if the promoter read the entire contract. Reason being, as they became popular, their stage setup became heavier, and they had specifications for load bearing weights underneath all the scaffolding. At one venue (prior to the brown M&M “rider” in the contract), their scaffolding sank into the floor of the venue, who fought with them to pay for it. So from then on, if they found brown M&Ms, they had a feeling their other requirements would not be met.

    I’m sure you have M&Ms up there? Our Smarties in the US are something completely different, basically a chalky type of “pill” candy that came in a cellophane roll. As a kid I had them. Trust me, they didn’t work (no truth in the name I guess).

    We do get M&Ms in a standard set of colors, but there are also seasonal colors (Easter gets pastels, etc.). None are olive drab. At some bulk candy stores, you can buy specific colors of M&Ms for special occasions. Some match them to college football teams. Others match their wedding colors.

    No candy for me this week. I have enough “junk” in the car. It’s rally season again and I’m back on the Rocky Mountain Breakdown. (And I still haven’t posted my last two road trips on my blog yet–in fact, the blog was broken thanks to an issue at Cloudflare.) So for the next week and a half it’s protein bars, oat bites, a bag of Dot’s Pretzels, and a portable fridge with liquid refreshments NOT involving booze.

    Good to hear from you! Yeah, I was wondering…


    • You’re on the road again, hooray! I hope everything is performing within spec (or within expectation; which isn’t always the same). 😉

      We have M&Ms in Canada, too; and their colours are much prettier than Smarties®. I like the flavour of Smarties® chocolate better than M&Ms chocolate, though. However… I LOVE peanut M&Ms! I avoid buying them, because I’m capable of scarfing down the entire giant package and looking for more. Peanuts and chocolate are just meant to be together!

      I never knew that about Van Halen. I’d heard about diva-like behaviour from various musicians, but it’s cool to know that there was actually some ‘logic’ behind theirs. Although, by the time they got to their dressing room and realized there were brown M&Ms, it was probably too late to cancel the concert anyway. So… hmmm.


  6. Well, that is noble of you to eat the ugly ones. That shows what a true friend you are. You know you could try writing three chapters and only deleting two … maybe … just a thought …

    and now my back hurts, but I think that comes from digging trenches for my irrigation system. There’s another think that old people shouldn’t be doing – digging in the dirt.


  7. This is probably the new “PC” color pallette. Non stimulating, non offending colors for our more gentle folk. Or maybe it’s a campaign by the veggie farmers or the fda to get people to eat more lima beans. 🤣. Maybe they should consider a name change. I know a lot of kids who refuse to eat broccoli, but give them “trees” and they’ll scarf them down with gusto,lol!
    But honestly the pastel pallette could be left over from Easter. Lots of candy companies do that color change to entice buyers with seasonal colors. Doesn’t work for me either.
    I really hope you find some relief for your back soon. With your job, even when it’s not actively hurting it’s downright uncomfortable. Wishing you well!


    • Thanks, Michelle! ‘Uncomfortable’ sums it up perfectly. I’m not in agony (thank goodness); I just can’t comfortably do the things I want to do. A first-world problem indeed! I get whiny sometimes, but overall I’m grateful that I’ll get the medical care I need.

      Hmm, maybe you’re right and that was just a ‘seasonal’ colour palette. Only one way to find out: Buy more Smarties®! (Darn it all.) 😉


  8. Ah, the great medical care conundrum! In Canada, you have (seemingly) great coverage, but a back list from hell to see a doctor. In the US, we have doctor’s with empty waiting rooms, but not the right coverage to see one.
    As an aside, have you considered a doctor in the US? I know that many Canadians visit doctors in the northern tier states simply because of the long wait times. Don’t know whether their Canadian insurance covers them in US or whether they are affluent enough to pay on their own. ??
    Meanwhile, order a Freddy book and relax with old friends.
    P.S. no reply expected. Just take care of yourself!


    • Aw, thanks, Dave! I always reply to comments — it means a lot to me when people take the time to comment, and I like to reciprocate.

      I’ve considered going down the States, but our medical insurance won’t cover the cost unless the procedure isn’t available here (and even then they often won’t cough up for it). And I don’t have a spare $100K kicking around for the cost of the trip plus a surgery.

      I’ve been waiting nearly a year and half, and the average wait time here in BC is 2 years to see a neurosurgeon (unless it’s an emergency; then they get you in quicker). I’m not complaining — I don’t want it to be an emergency! 🙂 I can still sleep comfortably at night, and that’s all that truly matters. The rest is just inconvenience and discomfort. Not a lot of fun; but tolerable.


    • I have no idea. But as terrifying as the Army Surplus Smarties® are, there is at least an upside: Now we’re pretty much obligated to gobble up those ugly green ones so they don’t spoil the appearance of the rest of the bowl. And they’re still just as yummy as the others. 😉


  9. Smarties started using these horrible colours several years ago. I believe I saw/read something when this happened about changing the colours to natural dyes instead of synthetic. Since the dyes are natural they might really be using lima beans for colour. I remember the first time I opened a box and saw the dismal assortment. I still ate them (because chocolate!) but was very disappointed by the colours. Snot coloured sums it up. They really are visually unappealing.


    • Ah, “health-food candy”; of course. That clears things up. Unless the original dyes were actually carcinogenic (and who knows; maybe they were), I can’t see the logic in using a ‘healthy’ dye in a product that’s inherently unhealthy. But maybe one of these days I’ll finally grasp the concept that the world isn’t logical… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Just a quick follow-up. Today, while at the check-out at the grocery store I spotted the boxes of Smarties and noticed that the packaging still shows the bright, shiny original colours. To me that suggests that their marketing people know that the current colours are not going to attract buyers. More evidence of an illogical world?


  10. OMG! I just had a smarties attack yesterday and once again was dismayed by the putrid pastel colours. Aside from lime bean green , who ever heard of blue.
    However I did sacrifice myself and ate the whole box,
    Hmmm when you eat your smarties do you eat the red ones last !!😂😂


  11. I love your blogs so much, because they crack me up. (Talk about a funny expression.) And that’s not an easy feat for a stoic person like myself. So, thank you for that. I’m not reading many blogs anymore these months, due to lack of time and internet consistency.

    Wishing your back improves fast soon! And that the Smarties folks read your blog and remove the army-green nuggets.


    • Thanks, Liesbet — I’m so flattered that you’re sticking with me! And I’m happy that you got some laughs, especially if you’re usually a ‘tough audience’. That makes my day! 🙂

      Here’s hoping they get the message loud and clear: “NO SNOT-COLOURED SMARTIES®!”

      Liked by 1 person

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