Sam called recently. He had news about Nora. She’d eaten her first Junior Mint.

Sam is our middle son and Nora our 15-month-old granddaughter.

“I think she liked it,” Sam said.

You think she liked it? How could she not like it? Junior Mint love flows from one generation to the next like snowmelt down the Kern.

Some day Nora and her grandfather will talk about Junior Mints. Junior Mints and thick sliced bacon, ice cold champagne and chunky peanut butter. But should I not be there, please give her this letter:

Dear Nora,

You may not remember me but I will always remember the day your father walked out of the delivery room dressed in a white gown and said he had a daughter and we, a granddaughter. That was hard to beat.

The nap you took the other day with your head on my chest before the Raiders game was pretty big too. There is nothing more peaceful. Time stopped for an hour and there was no better place to be.

However, you really made my day when your dad told me you had had your first Junior Mint.

I have some advice for you in regards to Junior Mints. Don’t listen to the people who say they’re just a smaller version of a York Peppermint Patty.

They aren’t, even if they are, a Junior Mint is refreshing and a masterpiece of confectionary finesse. Mr. Peppermint Patty is a bully, a chocolate bull in a candy shop. Too much peppermint and dark chocolate for the narrow confines of one’s taste buds.

Movies and Junior Mints go together like butter and popcorn. I would expect that your grandmother has taken you to the movies by now so please forgive her for buying the small box.

There is nothing wrong with the small box, nothing wrong if it’s Halloween and you want to give a tiny treat to small children awash with candy in their orange plastic pumpkins.

There is nothing wrong with a small box of Junior Mints if you have laid down a base of apple pie with fresh whipped cream prior to the Junior Mints, but a small box shared between two people for a movie that could go 105 minutes is not enough.

Know this. Your grandfather would have bought the big box. The 12-ounce, wide-mouth box of Junior Mints. The one with both latitude and longitude.

One of these days, you may find yourself accepting an invitation to see a movie. A first date. Pay attention to his candy choices. If he chooses anything in the sweet-and-sour line rather than the peppermint and dark chocolate genre, I would suggest making your first date your last date. Being friends with him in school is fine as long as you don’t swap desserts from your lunchbox.

I suggest you have a stash of Junior Mints at home. Don’t be afraid to keep a box in the freezer because frozen Junior Mints are delicious. However, I suggest hiding them under the bag of sweet, organic corn.

When you are old enough to watch "Seinfeld," sit down with your Uncle Thomas and watch the episode where Kramer and Seinfeld are viewing a friend’s operation from the surgical gallery. Kramer is eating Junior Mints and accidentally flips a Junior Mint into the patient.

The patient recovers nicely as if “he’d had help from above,” the doctor said.

Kramer sums it up: “Who can refuse a Junior Mint? It’s chocolate. It’s peppermint. It’s delicious. It’s very refreshing.”

I remember when you ate your first one. That was a happy day for both of us.

Love, Papa.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at or (661) 395-7279.