Last week I was chatting with my sister-in-law about the merits of Bubble Yum, Hubba Bubba, and Bubblicious. We both agreed Bubble Yum was the best…which is important, no need for family conflict on crucial matters. My nephews politely listened, a bit confused as we gushed and critiqued the attributes of the gums of our generation. For me it was the ability to actually crunch on the sugar crystals, grinding them down until the wad was smooth enough to blow a bubble the size of my head. No matter what those rubber loving Hubba Bubba fans said… I did not believe the spider eggs rumor. My dad showed me the New York Times full page ad, we had a lesson in stopping a rumor dead in it’s tracks…about spending tens of thousands of dollars to save a million dollar company…about trying to take down a competitor with fake stories; all good lessons. Best of all, there was no need to give up… the best. gum. ever.
Yesterday I was listing to the “oldies station”. When I was little that meant Elvis, today it means REM and Elvis Costello. Sigh. There was a chat about missing candy from our youth and the REGGIE! (bar) came up. It’s funny, I aways thought it was a Reggie Bar…but in looking for images I see it was just the REGGIE! Carmel, peanuts, chocolate, all kinds of fabulous for a quarter, yes, a quarter.
The “rich kids” were able to go to Alene’s Craft and Candy Store every single day after school. Whether they had a dime or a dollar they were set for some sugar infused energy after a long day. On “mom is in a great mood at pick up days” we were able to get a treat too, and on perfect days we went to Alene’s instead of the gray, drab, traditionally stocked pharmacy next door. Alene’s had energy…shelves and shelves stacked with bright colored boxes, Hershey Smershy…these were cutting-edge sugar products, so many choices. What should I do with my quarter, 5-10 pieces of penny candy or go big with a candy bar. Marathon Bars, oh the lovely braided bit of caramel goodness with the super milky chocolate coating…that melted within 5 seconds of unwrapping the bar. Everyone knew that Marathons and Charleston Chews were better frozen, but who on earth had the will power to wait for the freeze. The freeze…then the crack, perfect bite size bits of heaven. It is a wonder I have teeth.
My mother was pretty cool about candy, considering my dad was a sugarholic I guess she had to be. The way to throw her over the edge was to bring home a Lik-m-aid or Pixy Sticks…pure sugar…no hiding the fact that we were pouring dyed sugar down our throats. Lik-m-aid was far superior to a Pixy Stick. No stripped paper dissolving in your mouth, no sugar clumping clogs to deal with. A bit of marketing genius…an interactive candy in a container that begged you to save some for later. Fun fact: one time at Fire Island I fell asleep with an open Lik-m-aid pack and woke up literally covered in ants. Life lessons.
There is absolutely no point to this Swoon, other than it made me happy to write it. Remembering the mom and pop stores in our little town. Reliving the stickiness and joy of leaving school on sunny days like today. Empathizing with my mom who would plead with us to “just get candy at the pharmacy”…it was so much faster, and she probably still had a million things to do. Childhood was pretty unstructured, candy was a treat, life was far from perfect, but it was pretty darn good.
Feel free to share your favorite childhood candy in the comments… I would love to have more blast from the past memories today.