Pinch of Salt Graphic (English)

I've admitted before that I have a bit of an obsessive character.

Some might even call it an addictive character. That whole addict thing has a bit of a negative connotation, but I've become pretty well known for calling it as I see it (maybe even obsessively so), so addictive it is.

Still, I've managed to overcome a few bad habits. I don't drink, I don't smoke and I curse very rarely. You don't want to hear about my love life, and I still argue that being a workaholic is a good thing. ( I do mean argue, too. It appears others around me disagree, particularly my wife.)

There still are stumbling blocks for me. It's particularly bad when I say I'm going to give something up out loud before I give it up.

That's why I approach New Year's resolutions with trepidation. I've mumbled about Lent more than a few times, but that giving something up for 40 days thing only to go back to whatever it was is a bit of a downer for me.

And Lent coincides with one of the more insidious addictions I face.

You see, the month (or two) before Easter is the only time of year that stores carry black jelly beans.

You heard that right. Black. Jelly. Beans.

I don't recall when I first discovered black jelly beans. I'm sure it was in my youth. It may be that I found a few stuck in the bottom of my Easter basket.

All I am sure of is that the obsession doesn't go away. If anything, it gets stronger with age.

It is a pain in the tuchus to go through bags of mixed jelly beans in the hope of discovering one or two of the black beauties. So I push my addiction aside for most of the year.

Then March rolls around.

I can't really explain what I find so compelling about black jelly beans. I've always enjoyed black licorice, and there's a bit of that taste in the bean. Then again, there's really no comparison.

Maybe the manufacturers add a touch of anise to the recipe. There are claims that the anise seed has multiple health benefits — a great justification for a positive addiction.

Anise also is used in some liqueurs for flavor — particularly in liqueurs with a strong alcohol content to mask the taste. A justification to give up the addiction.

Did you know that anise traces back to ancient Greece? Mythology says that it has the power of long or everlasting life. A black jelly bean a day might keep the doctor away.

Alright, maybe there's no anise in black jelly beans. It's nice to think about, though.

As I said, the bags of black jelly beans disappear from store shelves a day or two after Easter, and don't reappear again until the following March. Judging by the first couple of bags I found this year, some stores and/or manufacturers just stash the unpurchased bags in the back to bring them out again 11 months later in a sort of fruitcake mentality. I'm here to testify that black jelly beans can and do get stale.

Last night, wife Maria did something she almost never does. She fed one of my addictions. This is the woman who hates my workaholic tendencies, you know.

But there on top of my laundry, what did my wondering eyes see? A big bag of black jelly beans — and the expiration date is three years away!

Thank you dear. I can give them up next year.

Happy jelly beans.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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