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Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

Herb Benham

I grabbed a rectangular box of Junior Mints for a recent trip south. Previously opened, the box was bent at the top to sequester and preserve the dark chocolate candy with the white creamy mint center. I checked to see the number of Junior Mints remaining because the 100-mile drive called for volume.

I wasn't concerned about freshness. Junior Mints are the Honey Nut Cheerios of the candy world. You can leave a box of Honey Nuts open for weeks at a time, grab a handful and still count on teeth magic.

With heat and age, Junior Mints become smashed, squishy and more delicious. A Junior Mint under assault improves because the inner mint leaks and informs the outer chocolate shell in a crushed-mixed- up-Junior-Mint way.

When all else fails, throw them in the freezer and look forward to another 20 years.

Immortality aside, a long rectangular box with Junior Mints lining the bottom third can present a logistical challenge.

Once the Junior Mints have melted and coagulated into a molten mass of Junior Mint Heaven consumers either must tear off the cardboard upper in order to herd members of the Junior Mint tribe or leave the box intact and use the index and middle fingers in concert as a Junior Mint retrieval device, similar to what is used on the moon to gather moon rocks.

Shaking the mints may not be possible because the mints might stick to the sides and bottoms of the box.

I opted to use my index and middle finger together in the same way the Transformer uses its claws to throw boulders over its shoulders.

That worked until the fill became so low I was unable to reach the remaining mints without jamming my hand in the entrance, which could have jeopardized the integrity of the box should I have continued.

After eating several and offering some to my traveling companions, who accepted them more eagerly than I expected or wanted given their appearance, I tore the top of the box which made it easier to pry the last few Junior Mints from the bottom.

Junior Mints eaten, I tried to get the sticky remnants off my fingers. Should you not do this, watch the expression on the next person with whom you shake hands when they try to disengage.

Short of having one of those moist warm napkins airline attendants distribute on flights, squirting water from a water bottle is your first line of defense. Should you not have water because you laid down a corn nuts base prior to the Junior Mints, plunge your fingers in your mouth and work the offending area with your tongue like an anteater might a bee hive. This may not be appetizing for traveling companions, so discretion is advised.

I chose No. 2, but there was a pesky spot between my index and middle fingers that resisted saliva turbo-charged by Junior Mints.

I licked the skin and when that didn't work, I double licked it. Still sticky, I jammed Kleenex in-between the fingers. Nothing. If anything, it had gotten stickier.

It was like shaving the side of your neck and being able to locate the bristle visible with the mirror but not findable with the razor.

Should I be found lifeless in an alley, identifying features could include barnacles on the side of my head and a sticky Junior Mint mass between my index and middle fingers.

Finally, I gave up. If it didn't go away, perhaps with time, like a good Junior Mint, it might improve.