We were sitting on a beach in a small town in Mexico, my good friend Crank Boy and I, enjoying the tail end of a very nice acid trip. The moonlight glistened across the surface of the ocean, and we could hear the distant revelry outside a bar down the beach where the world’s worst cover band was known to play. I was silent, letting the incoming waves lull me; Crank Boy, meanwhile, waxed philosophical, as was his wont.
“I wonder how the term ‘candyflip’ got started,” said Crank Boy. “It’s one of those names like Grape Nuts, where the name has no particular relationship to the thing being described. I mean, whatever you might think about acid or Ecstasy, if you’re thinking of either one as candy, you are setting yourself up for a world of hurt. And clearly, no one on any combination of strong psychedelics should be engaged in any kind of gymnastic activity – that’s just dangerous.”
I nodded imperceptibly.
“So is the term ‘candyflip’ intended to be a kind of ironic warning? I don’t think so. Because both candy and flipping are often perceived as enjoyable, I think the term is somehow meant to denote that this combination of two disparate elements is perhaps even more enjoyable than either of the elements might be on its own. But that’s just dissonant to me. You wanna know why?”
I nodded again, this time slightly more perceptibly.
“Well, it seems clear by consensus that the ‘flip’ in a ‘candyflip’ represents the Ecstasy. This is obvious by how the term becomes ‘hippieflip’ when mushrooms are substituted for acid, and ‘honeyflip’ when it’s 2C-B in the driver’s seat. It’s just counterintuitive; if you’re going to try to imagine which drug in our scene is eaten with the same greedy capriciousness as a child eats candy, clearly Ecstasy would be a more appropriate choice. But no, someone drew a clear analogy between candy and acid when they invented this term, and that’s disturbing to me.”
I didn’t nod at this point. He went on anyway.
“That really brings into stark relief another important question. Why did they start calling LSD ‘acid’ in the first place, and why would anyone willingly put into their body something that carried the moniker of a highly corrosive and dangerous class of substances? Who would think that was a good idea? If I said to you, ‘Hey, I’ve got some drain cleaner I’d like you to ingest’ – and this is just hypothetical, mind you, I don’t actually have any drain cleaner on me – wouldn’t that raise some alarms with you?”
I did nod this time. I’m not sure why; I wasn’t actually listening.
“Ah, but you see, that’s actually appropriate. The meek or unprepared would hear the name ‘acid’ and recoil, but the adventurous would unpack the nature of the warning encoded in the name. They’d hear ‘acid’ and realize that just as a true physical acid might dissolve physical matter, so too might this ‘acid’ dissolve psychological matter – personality, habit, consciousness itself. ‘Acid’ communicates the power of this drug as a tool; it’s as descriptive as ‘saw’ or ‘drill’ or ‘hammer’.”
I nodded, but I think I was actually just nodding off at this point.
“Which makes the term ‘candyflip’ so disturbing, because here you have a case of the meme pool opting to analogize this psychological corrosive with some kind of sugary treat. What advantages are there to doing this? Did the underground network of acid chemists really feel that it was time to soften the image of acid to help introduce it to a whole new generation? Did a secret cadre of unscrupulous dealers realize they had a good upsell opportunity if they could convince their addicted E-monkeys that a strip of acid with every purchase would make a good happy meal? Is the scene so inherently cynical and downright vindictive that it sought to disguise the lurking dangers hidden within the LSD experience by modeling it as some kind of circus ride for freaks? What were they thinking when they came up with the name ‘candyflip’, Scotto, what could they possibly have been thinking?”
“Maybe,” I said slowly, “they were just high when they came up with it.”
Crank Boy paused.
“Hmm, yeah,” he said finally. “That makes sense.”
“Let’s go back to the bungalow and do a pile of Vicodin,” I suggested.
“Ah, the highly vaunted candyflop,” he replied. “I could live with that.”