User "Jellyfish Juice," Wikimedia Commons
There's no rule that says good sweets can't be cheap. Anyone with a sweet tooth worth its weight in Hostess CupCakes and Hershey's Milk Chocolate can tell you that. Sometimes, cheap simplicity hits the spot better than ornate decadence. You might not know exactly what you're getting when your sweet of choice is made in a big factory in a far-off land...but when it tastes good, does it really matter?
When I was a kid, we frequented our local convenience store for treats like these all the time. My favorite was a two-pack of Gang Planks. These were cookies that tasted like a hybrid of shortbread, gingerbread and animal cracker and were (yes) shaped like a pirate ship's gang planks with a thin layer of pink icing on top. I loved these cookies, and a short walk to the corner store to buy some could make everything all right.
In the past few years, I've noticed convenience stores -- which are now more likely to be attached to gas stations -- offering treats that I've never seen in stores. Like Razzberry M&M's, which gave me a fierce headache after I ate a handful last summer.
This got me wondering: Could I seek out rare, sugary treasures at these stores and find something I love as much as those long-gone Gang Panks?
My search started in QuikTrip. I love this place: good coffee, good donuts and good meal options (if real food with, like, lettuce and such is your thing). It didn't disappoint, with two sweet options I'd never spied before in my life. First up is the cone of Jonny P-Nuts P-Nut Brittle. This is essentially individual peanuts coated in a peanut brittle-like substance with occasional bunches of brittle candy sprinkled throughout the mix. It had a nice, roasted-peanut flavor and was perfectly sweet and crunchy without being as sticky as traditional peanut brittle can be. Nice to start off with a winner.
I moved on to the Classic Caramel Cob Soft n' Chewy Caramel Popcorn. Also known as caramel corn molded into the shape of a corn cob. Really, I should have read the name better and prepared myself for the ultimate in soft and chewy caramel corn. In fact, it was so chewy that it tasted like caramel, but not at all like popcorn -- like eating a giant caramel that I forgot in my pants pocket: all chew, no crunch. And as much as I love sweets, I detest that oh-my-God-I-can't-get-it-off-my-teeth feeling, which this had in spades. Certainly not horrible, but not a home run either.