It's been more than two weeks since Halloween, and I still have a huge bowl of candy left. That's after eating my weight in candy over the past three months.

I started investing in Halloween candy somewhere around August, worried the stores might sell out. Candy hoarders are rampant during this season, and I wanted to make sure I'd have enough for the handful of kids who ring our doorbell on that bewitching night.

While I admit I ate enough candy before Halloween to feed Fresno for a year, I strictly limited myself to the "fun-sized" bites and only ate as many as I could hold in two hands and only once an hour. To make up for the added calories, I skipped breakfast, lunch and dinner and substituted Snickers, Mars, and Musketeers instead. By Oct. 1, I'd replenished the candy bowl enough times to own stock in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.

Since Halloween, I've tried to get off the stuff, but I keep remembering signs reminding me that "Life is short -- eat dessert first" and "You deserve a treat today."

Unlike cigarettes, there are no warning labels on the candy bars themselves, no surgeon general stats, no skull-and-crossbones poison symbols. The government, who seems to be so concerned with our health, might as well write "Eat me!" in giant letters all over my stash. Worst of all, the wrappers aren't even child-proofed. Anyone with an opposable thumb can rip open a Butterfinger in less than three seconds, even my 2-year-old granddaughter, and she can't even tie her shoes yet.

I tried the usual tricks, buying only treats I don't like -- like those hard, sour candies that pucker your mouth and break your teeth. But I became so desperate for a sugar rush that I started downing Skittles and Pop Rocks as if they were vitamins.

I tried hiding the candy from myself, but that didn't work, since I knew where the bodies were buried. Next I gave myself a quota--only one 64-ounce bag per day -- but I blew through that by noon. I tried using the candy as a reward system for my good behavior -- a mini-Musketeers or a pack of M&Ms every time I did something worthwhile, like turn off a light to save the planet or recycle an empty candy wrapper instead of hiding it under the mattress so my family wouldn't know how bad my problem had become.

Finally I gave up the kid candy and returned to the good stuff -- anything chocolate covered--preferably with added caramel, nougat, marshmallow, nuts and crunchy stuff. I even filled my purse with emergency candy in case I was trapped in line at the post office for any length of time. But it was when I found myself washing down a Heath Bar with a Baby Ruth that I realized this needed to stop.

I searched for some CA -- Candy Anonymous -- groups, but none existed. Weren't there other candy-holics like me who wanted to discuss the calorie content of a single Malt Ball or the fact that my bras don't fit any more because of my addiction?

This is my last hope. If anyone out there wants to form a CA group, I'll meet you at Sees. Bring your own glass of milk.

Reach Penny Warner at www. pennywarner.com.

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