Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Anatomy of an M&M

One of the benefits of hiking 20 miles every day is that you can eat whatever you want, as much as you want, whenever you want... and you won't gain weight or worry about those flabby parts on your body. In fact, you'll often go out of your way to select the most calorie-laden foods you can find so you don't end up absolutely skelital like most thru-hikers end up anyhow.

On the AT, I lost about 30 pounds, and you'd have had a tough time finding so much as an ounce of fat on me. On this thru-hike, the transformation hasn't been nearly so dramatic. I think I've lost weight, but nowhere near the 30 pounds I lost on my last thru-hike.

There are probably several reasons for this, but a big one has been the relative abundance of convenience stores and towns along the way. I'm able to eat much more stuff than I could on the AT. And the trail, until recently, being more-or-less flat meant less energy required to go the same distance. That's at least partially negated by the fact that I hike more miles each day than when I was on the AT.

None of this really has a point, except that I try out all sorts of junk foods I'd never eat in 'real life.'

This hike, I've been fascinated by M&Ms. I've always known there were the regular milk chocolate ones and peanut M&Ms. They've been around for ages. Not being a big fan of peanuts, I always got the milk chocolate.

On the trail, however, I figured a peanut would give the candy at least *some* nutritional value, so I got a bag of peanut M&Ms and was shocked to discover that they're coated in milk chocolate as well! There's definitely a peanut in each one--I checked--and one lucky M&M actually had TWO peanuts (two of them!) in a single bite sized candy.

With all that cholocate that surrounds it, I can't say I can taste the peanut. Which is just as well since I'm not a big fan of peanuts anyhow.

So nowdays I like to buy the peanut variety of M&Ms. Tastes good, and I can pretend it's actually healthy.

But walking through the aisles, I'm astounded at the sheer variety of M&Ms that previously, I had no idea existed. I must try them all....

There's the almond M&M, designed much like the peanut M&M except with an almond instead of a peanut, and I figure almonds must have some nutritional content so I give them two thumbs up.

Then there's dark chocolate M&Ms. I heard recently that dark chocolate has antioxidents or something that, at least in moderation, could have beneficial health effects. And it tastes really good to boot.

But I had to give the dark chocolate M&Ms the thumbs down when I later learned there was a dark chocolate peanut M&M. Yes, dark chocolate AND a peanut. It's practically a meal in itself packed full of health.

Then there's the peanutbutter M&Ms, not to be confused with the peanut M&M. It doesn't pack as well as the hard core M&Ms, however. Many of them got crushed in my pack, but they do taste good. *nodding*

You'd think it would end there, but you'd be so wrong. For Valentines, they had bags of green M&Ms. (Regular and peanut, and I tried them both. Not convinced they're particularly effective, however.) They also had shades of reds and pinks, the more traditional Valentines Day colors.

St. Paddy's Day brought out more green M&Ms.

And more recently, I had chocolate covered cherry M&Ms, though I was sadly disappointed by that result. You'd think chocolate and cherries would have been a sure thing.

And did you know, that every bag of M&Ms has an even number of them? I like to eat mine two at a time, and I swear it NEVER comes out with an odd number, which is good, because then I'd be stuck eating just one lonely M&M.

I've become quite the M&M expert on this hike.

But back to your regularly scheduled programming....

During the night, the rain finally stopped. The morning was still wet, but at least the precipitation had stopped.

One of the worst things a hiker has to do in the morning is put on the cold, wet hiking clothes from the day before. It's a miserable thing to do, akin to pulling off the fingernails, but it must be done. Camp clothes must stay dry if they're to keep you alive on a cold night.

So off go the dry, warm clothes, deep into my pack, and on go the wet, cold hiking clothes. Yuck.

Then I hiked. I hiked and I hiked, but there's not much to report. (Thus, all that fluff about M&Ms.) I passed a shelter--and oh how I wished I could have used THAT the night before--which was adorably cute in front of a stream with a small waterfall. The registry in it told of woes of snow and cold. It was cold, but I did not have the problem of snow. Not yet, at least. It's still early enough in the season that I could get it in these mountains.

The trail was fairly easy with no serious inclines or rocks to deal with, and I pulled a relatively long day to reach the Laurel Hill shelter for the night.

I never saw the sun, hidden in all those clouds (I hope!), so worried the rain might return. It hasn't, but I'm happy to be under a shelter where if the rain starts during the night, I have a lot of room to stretch out in.


Anonymous said...

I find your analysis of M&M's very informational. I recently tried the dark chocolate with the same thought, but hadn't liked the taste - until it came in peanut M&M version.

Paula Ü

Anonymous said...

So off go the dry, warm clothes, deep into my pack, and on go the wet, cold hiking clothes. Yuck

what a picture you paint, that i had never thought about before this sentence. even though we were told about rain hikes, i never put the wet clothes back on your back in the morning before.

on to the dark chocolate PEANUT M&Ms.........i have never seen them, i so need to find them. :J


Anonymous said...

OMG, have you tried the Razzleberry M&Ms?? Those are my favorite!!! Larger than a regular milk chocolate M&M this little yummy is filled with raspberry flavored chocolate! Sadly, when the cherry ones hit the shelves (yuck) I can no longer find the raspberry.

Oh, and don't waste your money on the mint crisp ones. I thought they would be like little York Patties, but alas they were like a mint filled rice chrispy coated in chocolate.


Anonymous said...

I contend that the "big bag" m&ms taste different than the small single serving bags. It is especially noticable (to me) in the plain variety. My own little m&m observation


Anonymous said...

M&Ms also taste better if you eat them out of a glass candy dish. Don't know why...

Flour Girl

Anonymous said...

Sometimes you get a "peanut" M&M without a peanut. You can usually predict which ones they'll be - they are too round and not quite big enough.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha! I had to laugh when I read how you eat your M&M's. I do the same thing. Only I have to have one on the right side of my mouth, and the other on the left. Yes, I know, my husband calls me anal too =)


Anonymous said...

I agree with you Galaxy4!!! That is so true about the taste of the m&ms...I tend to prefer the taste of the "big bag" m&ms over the single serving ones.... :)

Thanks Ryan, for your posts...they're fun to read because I feel like I'm going on this adventure too!
Great descriptions...

--blue songbird

Anonymous said...

Peanut M&Ms are the best thing ever invented! I especially loved when they had the Shrek-style peanut M&Ms upon the release of Shrek 2. Think HUGE peanut M&Ms with an extra large layer of milk chocolate...sinfully good!

StarSAELS said...

The company I work for makes packaging machines: cartoners and bagmakers. Sitting atop a bagmaker, is a computer weigher that consists of (for an application like M&Ms) 18 to 24 "buckets" that measure the contents of themselves. Each bucket drops its contents into another bucket level where the weight is double-checked. The weigher then decides which combination of buckets will most closely match the designated weight, and release only those buckets into the filling tube and down into the bag that's being formed below. If, coincidentally, an even number of M&Ms is what is required to match the designated weight of the package, then it will almost always be an even number!

Anonymous said...

Gee, I thought I was going to be the only one to post, was I surprised to find so many. I couldn't help but laugh when you mentioned the dark chocolate M&Ms cause I had purchased some early today of this same variety, never having tried them before. I was happily surprised they were so good, I didn't know until I got home they were the dark chocolate, got them at Big Lots and was more impressed with the price and the fact that they were peanut type than the variety. $2 for the big bag.
Its raining buckets here too and has been for the last two days, with tornados forcasted all around. Pray you stay safe and dry.
Okie Dog

Anonymous said...

Two at a time, one on each side, and ALWAYS of two different colors!

Big Ox

Beach Gal said...

I've found that the Mini M&M's don't taste like M&M's...not enough chocolate compared to the candy coating. Bring on the chocolate!
I had no idea there was dark chocolate...I'll have to get some of those. Oh second thought, I better not! I'll eat the whole bag!
Beach Gal

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many bags of M&Ms were purchased today by readers of this blog.

I had my bag of peanut M&Ms this morning in honor or the GT.


Anonymous said...

I went to the store on my lunch hour and got bags (not individual ones, either) of dark chocolate peanut and mint crisp. The mint crisp are "Indiana Jones" and have a sunburst design (with m in center), a hat, a pyramid and a skull. All of them incorporate the m. Pretty funny to look at!


dianesteelequilts said...

Hey, you're talking about my personal favorite candy here! Peanut M & Ms. Mmmmmm! It is because of the peanut it's my favorite too, always trying to get that little extra dollop of protien wherever possible . . .Ryan. . .!
I eat the green ones first--even have a little pottery jar that says "Green M&Ms" on it! I don't eat the blue one 'cuz that's our daughter's color. Save them for when she visits.
(I know, too much information. . .)

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Mmmmmm, M&Ms!

I tried the coconut ones lat week and they were yummy! They had the caramel ones, too. I'll try those next time.
Iwonder if they had those flavors when you were on this hike....

Hike on!
~Twinville Trekkers