#21: Sweets For The Sweet

26 Pickup—The Half Ton

#21 Sweets for the Sweet

Why did you choose Mallo Cups as Virgil’s calling card?

-Scott McCreery

Hi Scott,

You know I love snooping around in the candy section of the Cracker Barrel restaurants whenever I’m there in that it’s a road trip down memory lane. I’m a sucker for old-fashioned candies and they usually come through. I had a friend who was crazy about Moon Pies and hadn’t had one in years, so after finding them there I sent him a box and I still pick up a Mallo Cup or two every time I’m in the place. I still remember collecting those Mallo Cup Play Money cards from Altoona, Pennsylvania when I was a kid and I guess it made an impression on me—maybe I thought I’d get rich.

​I had to laugh when I saw that Lee Child’s TV Reachercharacter needed a signature candy bar that would be both relatable and authentic and tagged the Clark Bar from Boyer, the same folks that make Mallo Cups… I had to wonder, are they aware that I’ve been using their product for fifteen years? It kind of reminded me of when Pappy Van Winkles suddenly showed up on Justified… Oh well, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

​When I came up with the character of Virgil White Buffalo in the fourth Longmire book, Another Man’s Moccasins, I figured he needed a calling card. It would’ve been simple enough to make it a feather or something from the natural world, but there were problems with that in that you could never be sure if Walt was getting a message or that a stone had been kicked or a feather had just fallen off a bird—it had to be something more definitive. 

​Anyway, whenever I’m coming up with the details of a character, the first thing I take into consideration is their age. Age can be indicative of a lot of details, such as appearance, tastes, and a myriad of other things. First off, it had to be something a man of Virgil’s age would have known, something that would have a part of the wrapper or something that would age appropriately and something not too plentiful or it could simply be mistaken for trash. I see Mallo Cups occasionally, but not so often that they would go unnoticed like say a Snickers Bar wrapper or a Coke bottle.

​It’s gotten to the point that I use the Play Money cards as bookmarks or stuck in the sun visors of all my vehicles. It’s funny because I’m not much of a sweets person, either with candy bars or deserts but that doesn’t mean Virgil isn’t. 

​My seven-year-old granddaughter, Lola, saw one on the center console of my car and asked if she could have it and I told her sure. I watched as she carefully unwrapped it and studied the card as she gnawed on the chocolate-covered marshmallow cup. “What’s this worth?”

​“What does it say?”

​“Twenty-five cents.”

​“Well then, it’s worth twenty-five cents.”

​She studied it some more, still unsure. “Where do I go to get my twenty-five cents?”

​I nodded, sage-like. “That, Kiddo, is a question for the ages…”

See you on the trail,



4 thoughts on “#21: Sweets For The Sweet

  1. I had never heard of that candy and honestly would not have eaten it because of the marshmallow, but having said that, I thought your reply, and reasoning to this link with the fbi is very significant. And what do you know I actually saw that candy while standing in line at a pharmacy store. I was SO tempted to buy one but I did not. That was a good question and a really comforting answer.;)


  2. On my next road trip, Cracker Barrel is a goal – and hopefully my first Mallo Cup will show itself. Your rationale for choosing them made perfect sense to me – not trash, just quirky enough and old fashioned enough. Plus the money to keep! Wonder how long they last – in a saddle bag or a winter coat pocket?


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