The Truth About Lemon Drops

There’s a recipe I tore out of a magazine over a year ago and haven’t made yet. It’s for a lemon ice box pie that looks divine. The picture just screams summer, and every time I run across it in my recipes I think, I really want to make this pie!

It includes three of my favorite things on the planet: shortbread cookies, a certain type of greek yogurt that’s more fattening than ice cream, and lemon drops (candy in pies is kind of a midwest thing, much like tiny marshmallows in sweet potatoes).

I finally decided to make the pie. My first trip out for ingredients, I had a hard time finding the shortbread cookies. I had to search the whole cookie aisle like three times and by the time I found them, a bunch of other cookies had climbed into my basket as decoy cookies. They said it was so I didn’t eat the ones intended for the recipe. I’m not one to argue with a cookie.

In the aftermath of the cookie aisle fiasco, I forgot the yogurt. I also forgot the lemon drops. That night, I cracked open the shortbread.

The next day I went back to the store. By this time, I’d eaten half the shortbread, but figured there was still enough to make the recipe. I grabbed the yogurt, then was confronted with a horror in the candy aisle:


In fact, there was a total absence of any old-lady candy. No peppermints. No Brach’s sour balls. No Red Hots.

The next day I went to a different store for lemon drops (and shortbread, because we were out. Also decoy cookies). There were butterscotch balls and those gross neapolitan coconut squares, but no lemon drops. I replenished the cookies.

Next day, next store: There were root beer barrels, cinnamon balls, and those little bright blue mint balls, but no lemon drops. I bought a pint of Häagen-Dazs so I wouldn’t eat the yogurt.

Finally, as a last resort before mail-order, I made my way to the drug store in town with the largest candy section, and there they were: lemon drops. Finally. Thank god this place carries shortbread too.

I have always believed lemon drops to be the most innocent of all candy. I remember being able to choose them as my treat when we went to the movies when I was a little kid. They were great because they were sour enough that you didn’t need a lot. Your parents could shut you up for fifteen minutes with two of them.

The truth is that lemon drops have proven to be sort of a reverse gateway drug purely by their elusiveness. Tallying up all the extra shortbread, decoy cookies and ice cream I’ve had while searching for them, each serving of this pie is equal to approximately a month’s worth of calories. The pie that I still haven’t made. I can’t believe lemon drops turned on me. Did you ever have a candy turn on you? It feels like when my best friend in elementary school pretended to be mad at me. Not cool, lemon drops. Not cool.

At this point, maybe I should just dip a shortbread cookie in the yogurt, top it with a lemon drop, and call it good.