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The Man Who Made Maple Sugar Candy

Each December Red Peters changed maple syrup into stars
to give as Christmas treats to all the children on his street,
he toiled over big boiling pots, smoking cigars,
listening to the radio talk about conspiracies,
and sales of gift wrapped headache remedies at the chain drug store.
Over the years he developed a reputation
as a neighborhood Santa, a pot-bellied, white-haired reincarnation,
who loved children. A local TV station
got a tip about the maple sugar man and went to video his fable.
After a summary of murders and police chases the newscasters were able to report that Red’s maple sugar candy was the best they’d ever tasted,
then break to a commercial for nuclear waste.
Next day dozens of children and parents come by Red’s demanding candy.
Hundreds of letters pour in telling Red he is a hero,
while he drinks a six-pack of beer housewives call for his recipe, a publisher asks him to write a cookbook, offering a large advance, and a chance to meet Oprah Winfrey.
Red says the simple secret is the syrup he uses. Somehow his source for syrup is revealed and Farmer Neal is overrun by buyers desperate for holiday cheer.
Red’s story is repeated by stations nationwide,
his porch suddenly a stage for vagabond reporters
spraying mousse, patting makeup, stuffing stars of sugar candy,
sugar coating words of praise and upbeat holiday spirit into thirty second spots.
Candy, small children, real-life St. Nick,
a past no one remembers, with goo poured on thick,
“And gosh, got to tell Ken and Barbie, our news anchors,
this is the best maple sugar that I’ve ever tasted!”
“Please bring us back a piece!” Everybody wanted a piece of Red Peters.
The Maple Sugar Manufacturers offers Red a million to be their Sugar Daddy. A candy company wants Red’s picture on the wrapper of “Maplesweets,” artificially colored and flavored to look just like the real treat.
The President wants to meet, Spielberg options movie rights,
Red is mobbed at the grocery by teachers seeking inspiration for students
and little old ladies hoping Red will come for sweet tea. Reporters want his trash, foundations want fundraisers, children want more maple sugar.
Then the health department cites Red for making candy without a license. 20/20’s follow-up interviews a psychologist who questions Red’s licentious interest in children, and an anonymous source reports that Red patted her behind when she was nine, a repressed episode recently revealed during therapy.
An untraceable treatise about “The Maple Sugar Pervert” appears in cyberspace followed by mysterious men who ask Red if he has any sweet pictures to sell.
A group of immigrant Russians claim Red was a Communist. Red says he threatened to nuke that family after they started to tear down his wall.
Christmas is approaching and no candy is left to give children gifts,
maple sugar’s popularity has caused the price of syrup to skyrocket.
To heck with it, says Red, this year I’ll make salt water taffy,
it’s sticky and makes kids laugh.
The next day the headlines read:
Inside Source Says Taffy Is This Year’s Most Fashionable Christmas Treat!
After getting his paper off the street Red retreats to his kitchen to find
a reporter from the Star stealing pieces of taffy from a jar.

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