The Sorrows of Young Werther’s Original

The sugar-free caramel coffee-flavored hard candy, not the suicidal 18th-century victim of unrequited love

Clem Samson
· 4 min read
Photo by Operamania licensed creative commons from

Dear Wilhelm,

I am a sugar-free coffee flavored hard candy named Werther, or more formally, Werther’s Original.

It has come to my intention that I am the namesake of another famous Werther, of the great Goethe’s epistolary novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther.

I am writing you this letter that will be part of an epistolary novel of my own. Epistolary literature is a story told through correspondence, so this is the opening of the book, really, not just my first letter to you.

I am enclosing a picture of myself, as it is now modern times and we can do that sort of thing in epistolary novels. Actually, since it is 2019, this is more likely to be email, isn’t it? Anyhow, this is me. This is a jpg. If you can’t see it, I can send it in png format.

Photo by the author, annotated by the narrator.

Now Wilhelm, you might think it is a coincidence that Goethe’s narrator, Werther, also sent letters to a man named Wilhelm. In fact, this is not a coincidence. The only reason I am writing you is that you are the first Wilhelm in Manheim, Germany I could find an email for, using the Find Anyone’s Identity service that came up on Google. I kind of wanted to be true to Goethe’s original (see what I did there, Werther’s Original, Goethe’s Original…)

His original, by the way, was about a guy named Werther who fell in love with Charlotte but Charlotte was engaged to Albert and so Werther killed himself with Albert’s pistols which he tricked Charlotte into giving him because he was supposedly going on a “great adventure.”

That’s the story.

It was a real smash, and it created something called the Werther Effect, where young men of the Romantic period would dress up in Werther style clothes and commit suicide with the same type of pistols, and often a copy of the book would be found near their bodies.

I am very worried, Wilhelm, that there might be a “Werther’s Original Effect” after my own epistolary novel is published. That would be dreadful.

By coincidence, I am in love with a lady named Charlotte, the actress Charlotte Rampling. She’s amazing, don’t you agree? Unfortunately, she doesn’t even know I exist. I’m not even sure she likes my variety of hard candy, toffee or coffee flavored nibs. I think she might like Lifesavers. That’s why I’m going to off myself.

But after I write about it in this epistolary novel, and it becomes a hit, I worry that other young romantic fools might gorge themselves on Werther’s Originals and kill themselves in homage to this great work.

You see, I am a sugar-free Werther’s Original. And I am made with a volatile sugar substitute instead of sugar. If you eat a lot of me, the flatulence is quite terrible. It could lead to terrible tragedies if gotten hold of by passionate, heedless youth.

How can we prevent this from happening, Wilhelm? Please write me back with your ideas.


Werther (The Original Hard Candy)

Dear Werther,

Please stop writing to me. I am a human being. Why on earth would I want to correspond with a piece of candy? Much less a sugar-free one? I am totally against all these sugar substitutes. Please, just stop.



Dear Wilhelm,

Thank you so much for your response! I think your idea is a terrific one. You are right — you should be the first suicide — of course! Why didn’t I think of that? That is why I have ordered you ten bags of sugar-free Werther’s Original Sugar-Free Caramel Coffee Candies. They will be delivered by Amazon tomorrow. If you eat all ten of them, very rapidly, then drink a gallon of Coke, I think your insides will explode.

You are very brave for agreeing to this.

Good-bye Wilhelm. You have been a great friend. And remember, you are going on a “great adventure”!



P.S. I sneaked into Charlotte’s handbag. I think she might eat me at the ball tonight. Yes!

P.S.S. I almost forgot, make sure you leave a copy of this epistolary masterpiece near the fart-death scene, so people will know. OK. Ciao.


Medium humor. Large laughs.

Thanks to Alex Baia

Clem Samson

Written by

Essayist, humorist, satirist, funny-ist, poetist, fictionalist, fabulist, quizzist, journalist. Creative Writing Prof at Harvard College, Duluth, Minnesota.



Medium humor. Large laughs.

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