This story starts as many do: I was thinking about food. It was a Friday afternoon, work was slow, and I was thinking about what I could sneak into our weekly office order from Fresh Direct. It’s a grocery delivery service that we get sometimes. Because an employee’s happiness is in direct correlation with their proximity to food. Ask Google.
But this is also New York City which means there’s a lot of health consciousness to navigate. We usually get arugula and raw almonds, you know? But one week my coworker and I managed to slip in a box of gushers. And guess what got devoured the fastest!
Spoiler alert: it wasn’t the arugula.
But anyways, I had just managed to convince the office we needed a bag of popcorn. And having the salty craving satisfied, my mind went–as it often does–to sweets. And somehow, someway, I suddenly thought of chocolate covered Cinnamon Bears. It’s a BYU staple which takes the commonplace Cinnamon Bear and dips it in chocolate. But I was wrong about one thing: it’s not commonplace.
Cinnamon Bears are something my family grew up on. My mom loves them. I don’t really get it–they’re too sticky–but it’s not like I’ll say no to a sugary substance. So I eat them and mildly enjoy them. I figured they were somewhere between Dots and Good ‘n Plenty’s on the candy totem poll: everyone knows about them, but not everyone likes them.
I was perusing the Fresh Direct offerings and I casually announced “It’s too bad they don’t have Cinnamon Bears.” It was like a told them I was growing a third eye. They turned on me, voices snide, eyes glowing with ridicule. “What’s a cinnamon bear?” they said stupidly, as if I was the ignorant one. Au contraire!
Flustered and bewildered, I explained the concept. It’s a cinnamon flavored gummi bear! It’s like Red Hots but in bear form! It’s not hard to understand! They refused to believe me. My coworker googled “cinnamon bears” and a literal bear popped up (it’s very cute) (but it didn’t help my cause). So I took it upon myself to find Cinnamon Bears. Turns out, you can only order them online. Turns out, that’s what I did.
They arrived in their shiny packaging just this week. I ripped them open so the spicy sweet smell could waft through the entire office drawing people closer. “Ready to have your lives changed?” I whispered. One by one, I went to my coworkers. “Have you ever heard of Cinnamon Bears?” One by one, they disappointed me. It didn’t matter where they were from. California, Oregon, Wisconsin, Texas, New York–none of them had ever heard of these spicy hot vehicles of Red Dye #41. But I did my civic duty and introduced them to them. And with that first taste, they were were gone. The one who scoffed loudest was the one who scarfed the most. And thus I laugh.
So there. Cinnamon Bears are real and I’ve introduced them to a new audience. Talk about a #MissionaryMoment. Because little did I know that those plump, sugary, androgynous blobs were merely a regional candy. I tried researching the history of this violent-colored cavity causer, quickly giving up when I realized there wasn’t a Wikipedia page devoted to the subject.
But I did find out ~something~ interesting, all in the name of educational pursuit. So, you’re welcome:
When Sweet’s launched these bears in the 1960s, they were originally called “Smokey Bears.” They were so popular, rations to customers had to go into effect, limiting each customer to only 3 cases a quarter.
What a cute story! Popular demand! Do you see! But lest you think my history lesson is lacking in factual support, I would like to present my case for why I’ve decided these are a Utah special: 1) only Mormons seem to know about them; 2) Sweets™, the country’s “BEST” Cinnamon Bear maker, is based in SLC; and 3) it fit the narrative I wanted, okay? Come at me, bro.
But whatever the case, they’re still a mystery to most the world. And I still helped in the journey to wokefulness. And, you know, the candy is still only so-so. But at least more people know it now.