Eating at the library was forbidden. But at the U.P. College of Law, we got away with a lot of things. In many ways, it was like high school. We had yearly “balls” which were more like proms and the girls would agonize over clothes, make-up and dates. And, like high school students, we sometimes played truant. We also broke a lot of library rules. Like the “No Eating” rule. At the first floor of the library which was filled with large tables that could each sit ten, one would often see wrappers of ChocNut on the tabletop alongside the notebooks, volumes of SCRA (Supreme Court Reports Annotated) and stapled photocopies of case digests.
Before I discovered Reese’s, there was only ChocNut. Decades before friends smuggled in bags of ChocNut into the U.P. Law Library, I’d get my fix from a sari-sari store across the street from our house. I wasn’t allowed to cross the street by myself so I would always be accompanied by my yaya. There were only five candies that I’d repeatedly buy — Serg’s (a chocolate bar), Curly Tops (nugget-sized chocolate wrapped in tiny paper cups), Orange Kist (a sugar-coated jelly similar to gummy bears), de limon (a lemon flavored candy) and ChocNut.
I know I am not alone when I say that ChocNut has been a favorite among several generations of Filipino candy lovers. It is sweet nostalgia, literally and figuratively. There’s an interesting story about a newscaster who courted a girl with three pieces of ChocNut everyday. Filipinos who immigrated to other parts of the world still reminisce about the ChocNut of their childhood and have created wonderful concoctions now that ChocNut is being exported. There’s ChocNut Chocolate Crackle Cookies that are a paler version of chocolate crinkles. Then, there is the ChocNut muffin.
In Philippine food culture, ChocNut is an icon. Made with ground peanuts, milk powder, cocoa and sugar, ChocNut is not dense nor sticky like most chocolate candy bars. It is delicate and it crumbles easily. The texture is a bit grainy (because of the ground peanuts) and somewhat powdery– like polvoron. It does not melt in the hands the way chocolate bars do yet it totally melts in the mouth. Neither does it turn rock hard when placed in the fridge. It isn’t greasy when held but don’t think for one moment that it is oil-free. Never leave ChocNut in the sun. One time, Speedy bought a bag of ChocNut and left it in the car that was parked under the sun. The peanut oil separated from the solids and the lovely peanut-chocolate bars became an indescribable mess.
It has often been said that getting copied should be treated as flattery. Only the good ones get copied, they say. Personally, I don’t subscribe to that philosophy but, in the case of ChocNut, getting copied never hurt its supremacy in the Philippine ChocNut market. King’s ChocNut, in the photo, has its copycats. But they don’t measure up to the original. They really don’t.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I really want to go downstairs and eat ChocNut while watching TV.