As a child, I had a reputation for a sweet tooth. However, maturity plus the constant news stream on high-glycemic food issues eventually tempered my sugar consumption.

I thus approached this year’s All Candy Expo with confidence that I would limit my sweets intake. My resolve did not even last through registration, where I spied samples of Pearson’s Candy Company’s Salted Nut Roll. Down went a bar, as I reminisced on my years as a time-starved and “dirt poor” student, when they sometimes served as lunch.

On the show floor, I ran into Queen Anne’s chocolate-covered cherries. Down one went, as I fondly remembered finding them in my Christmas stocking when young. The Necco booth also brought a flood of nostalgia. I recalled my first steps of independence long ago, when I was allowed to walk alone to the store, where I purchased Necco Candy Buttons, now described as a “classic sugar treat on a paper strip.” Hershey’s Mounds bars remind me of my mother. Although a very self-disciplined woman, I could always talk her into splitting one with me. These bars remain a favorite of mine. After all, one 49g bar provides 12% of the Daily Value (DV) for dietary fiber, a touch better than a serving of Total Whole Grain cereal, which has 10% of the DV of fiber.

Indeed, many favorites provide traditional nutritional benefits. A 2.5oz Salted Nut Roll provides 9% of the DV for fiber and 9g of protein (Total cereal has 2g). One can even argue Necco candy buttons must provide some fiber, as they are difficult to separate from their paper backing, and both candy and paper could be consumed.

In the end, such logic is not only feeble, but also provides unneeded arguments to justify the consumption of some of life’s great pleasures. According to The Nielsen Company’s Predictive Macroeconomic Impact System, candy is one of five food categories most immune to a recession. James Russo, vice president of marketing, food sector, The Nielsen Company, offers factors impacting the candy category, but also notes a psychological factor. “Historically, during recessions, consumers will cut back on their spending, particularly on discretionary items. However, there is a consumer mindset to ‘treat’ themselves or their family members. Perhaps it is just human nature, but consumers still want to feel ‘good’ about things.” He adds, “A $1 candy bar ‘treat’ in the face of filling up the gas tank for nearly $100 can be a powerful psychological motivator.”

Health is perhaps the overriding trend in food today. But isn’t enjoyment, a key element of mental health, important as well?