Yesterday, I visited what was perhaps the most magical place in the whole entire world. This place made me happier than I think I’ve ever been in my 33 years on this planet.

It was more exciting than the day I graduated from college.

It was more scream-worthy than when Dan proposed to me on the beach in Miami.

It made me sweat more than my honeymoon.

It offered more promise than the very day I was born. Because I DO remember being born (bright, white lights, cold) and I’m fairly certain there weren’t dancing M&Ms and 9-foot-tall Hello Kitty Pez Dispensers and flowing fountains of Dove Chocolate.

Yesterday, from noon to 4pm, I ran around the All Candy Expo at Chicago’s McCormick Place like a screaming banshee, stuffing my bags full of every manner of solidified sugar imaginable. Dark chocolate-covered cranberries. Warm s’mores. Gummy popcorn (plucked from a gigantic gummy candy buffet.) Jose Cuervo Chocolates. Beek jerky. Jesus Mints (in the shape of little fish!) Peanut butter-stuff, chocolate-covered pretzels. Sweet Riot chocolate cocoa nibs. Those hot, candy-and crack-coated almonds they sell on the street in NYC. Bacon and maple lollipops. Goo Goo Clusters. Antioxidant-enhanced Jelly Bellies. Basically, I trick-or-treated at over 450 candy and snack booths and sampled from more than 2,000 new items (Strawberry and PB M&Ms, anyone? Chocolate Mousse Peeps?)

It wasn’t all fun and games, though. I attended a blogger luncheon sponsored by the National Confectioners Association, where Louisa Chu of spoke. I sat with my friends Dawn Jackson Blatner  RD, (remember, I wrote about her and her Flexitarian flare here) and Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD. Also in attendance: Writers from,, and a bacon-obsessed blogger who, every day, wraps something in bacon, cooks it up and writes about it (her favorite experiment: a bacon-wrapped Cadbury Crème Egg!) OK, so I suppose it WAS all fun and games.

By then end, I was so strung out I could barely speak. At one point I called my mom but was actually speechless.  I felt sick and yet oddly euphoric…almost how I would imagine being on crystal meth feels. I wonder if the sugar impaired my judgment because I wound up basically hitchhiking back into the city with an RD my friend Dawn recognized. I trusted him because he was from my hometown and wore a kippah but really, he could have been a mass murderer. I guess I just figured that, sitting in his car covered with pounds and pounds of loose candy, at least I would die happy. Fortunately, he was trustworthy and I wound up schlepping to my gym, where I powered through 60 (yes) minutes on the StepMill.  Then I went home and ate broccoli and turkey meatloaf and swore off chocolate for at least 24 hours. I actually feel a tad nauseous as I write. And yet I am still planning on returning to the Expo tomorrow. What is wrong with me?

For all of you candy freaks out there, I have a horrif-awesome (a new word I picked up from the Bacon Fest rep) opportunity for you. The NCA’s blog, The Candy Dish, is giving away five prize packs full of new products. All you have to do to be entered in the random draw is leave a comment here. If you want to stack the odds in your favor, you can also blog about the Candy Dish blog or giveaway, Tweet about ‘em, follow them on Twitter, etc (more instructions on their site). I hope one of you wins!

Off to cleanse my bowels with some Draino...

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