Sheila Sybrant

The first time it happened, I felt like I got the short end of the stick.

That’s because I got no sticks at all.

It’s been quite a few years now, so I’m used to it —but I still don’t understand it.

And since you probably don’t understand what I’m talking about, I’ll tell you. After all, at least someone should understand something.

I’m talking about sticks in a bag of caramels. Does anyone know whatever happened to them?

Obviously, what happened is that they no longer come in the bag. But what I really want to know is why.

For many years now, I’ve made caramel apples to give out as Halloween treats. (We live in the country, so we get few trick-or-treaters, which means that I can afford to do this.)

Each year, I buy the bags of individually wrapped caramels, melt them, and coat the apples. And each year for many years, I would first open up the package of sticks that came inside the bag of caramels and insert a stick in each caramel.

At some point, though, the sticks no longer came in the bags of caramels.

At first, it was a minor inconvenience as the sticks were still available — for free, as I recall — by the pick-a-mix bulk candies in the grocery store.

But, apparently, the caramel candy company couldn’t even stick with that commitment because eventually the sticks were phased out for good.

Now this may seem like a minor complaint — and in the scheme of things, it is. I have no illusions that this is a problem on the scale of world hunger.

But still — where are the sticks?

It seems to me that if you’re a caramel candy company, you would want to retain the goodwill of your customers by including the sticks. This is especially true if you are a company that makes individually wrapped caramels because it takes extra time to make apples with those (although if you have young children around, they will unwrap the caramels for you for the “price” of a few caramels to eat).

Perhaps the company has decided that people no longer use its product for caramel apples due to new, easier products like the caramel pellets and the caramel wraps. I’ve tried those, though, and the end result, in my opinion, just isn’t as good.

Did the company save lots of money by omitting five or six sticks from each bag? Did the company make what it thought was an environmental decision to leave out sticks that some customers might not use — even though the company seems uninclined to get rid of all the pieces of plastic used to wrap each individual caramel?

Granted, I’ve found a work-around: I buy sticks in bulk online. But I still feel annoyed every time I buy a stick-less bag of caramels. It seems to me that sticks are my right as a caramel candy purchaser —kind of like getting a free toothbrush and container of dental floss when I go to the dentist.

I imagine that there’s probably no chance that the caramel candy company will start including sticks again. After all, once something is gone, it rarely returns.

Perhaps some part of me, though, is like Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin. I just keep believing that my sticks will someday show up in the caramel bag.

Maybe, though, the caramel candy company needs a little incentive. Do you suppose if I give it a carrot, it will give me a stick?

Readers may contact Sheila at or 45092 859th Road, Bassett, NE 68714

In other news

With 35 of the Pulitzer Prize winners of fiction remaining for me to read, I’m getting closer to completing my goal of reading them all. I just finished reading the 1962 winner, “The Edge of Sadness,” by Edwin O’Connor. It was a pleasant read but also a bit of an undertaking for a few reasons.

Owners/operators and their background: MJ’s Gelato is owned by Pat and Jodi Ronspies. Pat works at Vulcraft, and Jodi began her other business, Employment Works Inc., in 1996.

The following area bankruptcies were filed in U.S. Court, District of Nebraska. Reprinted by permission from the Daily Record of Omaha.