Recognize any of these?
Espeez Gold Mine.
Pixy Stix and Chicken Bones.
Sweet Tarts and Pep Chews.
Recognize any of these?
Were these the visions of sugar plums that danced in your childhood head?
If so, you probably have mercury amalgam fillings dancing in your adult head today.
Candy – the gold of childhood! But not candy that adults would eat. No, far from it.
Penny candy. Basically corn syrup, food grade gypsum and food colouring … lots and lots of food colouring. This type of candy is sharply distinguished from the candies adults favoured. No pristine, little scotch mints, no dour ivory and tan humbugs, no fine Belgian dark chocolate for our childhood selves. No enrobed almonds, nor peanut brittle, either. We favoured novelty! Candy with curbside appeal. Candy with an added attraction. Candy with a backstory. Garish wrappers, crazy names, gimcrack presentation – that’s what caught our eye. Remember Thrills gum? Did you know that Thrills were a Canadian creation? Those ten purple chiclets in a yellow and purple box were an acquired taste. I bet you’re remembering the taste right now. It tasted just like soap, didn’t it? Not only was this not accidental, but pick up a package of Thrills gum today and you’ll see that it boasts, “It still tastes like soap!’ It’s inexplicable, really.
“It still tastes like soap!”
How about popping candy? What makes popping candy pop are bubbles of carbon dioxide that are released when saliva melts the sugar enclosing those bubbles. I bought some Pop Rocks a while back to reacquaint myself and, I have to say, I really enjoyed them! They really do fizz and pop exactly as advertised. Think of it as dinner and a show! What kid wouldn’t love that?!
Yes, clove Lifesavers couldn’t hold a candle to the delights of the penny candy bins. If you wished to part our childhood selves from our weekly allowance, best bring on the creative. Truffles were mere trifles to us.
Truffles were mere trifles to us.
Penny candy was conceived and manufactured to appeal to a child’s sense of wonder. It was candy with the allure of fine gems and with the novelty of Fabergé eggs; candy with something extra. We coveted it for reasons that had nothing to do with flavour or texture. Gold Mine Nugget Bubble Gum came in a wee cotton sack with a yellow drawstring. The little pieces of gum were shaped and coloured to look like nuggets and they tasted like styrofoam pellets. I’d wager that real gold might have actually tasted better. But what did it matter? The sack alone was treat enough. Remember Ring Pops, those multi-faceted sugar knuckle dusters? Ruby, sapphire or amethyst – they all tasted the same, but still, you’d deliberate over your colourful selection as if choosing a cocktail ring. And what about candy necklaces? The starchy pastel beads of sugar strung on a length of elastic never went out of style on the playground. But I never understood those enormous jawbreaker candies. Too big for your mouth, they rivaled golf balls in size and probably in the flavour department, too. The boys loved ‘em. They were status symbols; to see them was to want them.
The boys loved ’em!
No matter your choice, all penny candy tasted equally terrible but, again, what did that matter? They were calorie-ridden enchantments and they catered to our childish sense of adventure.
Penny candy was also a good way to introduce math concepts. The expenditure of your few nickels and dimes had to be well thought out. If you got a box of Hot Tamales, a Cherry Blossom and some gummy worms from the bins, you might end up with some coins left over.
What to do?
It might be months before you were back in Candy Land.
The solution was the cheapest thing on offer and came in a boring wax paper sleeve: Hot Fire Pix. Don’t recognize the name? They were toothpicks, cinnamon toothpicks. They weren’t hot and they only faintly, and briefly, tasted of cinnamon. In fact, they tasted like sawdust … but at least they didn’t boast about it.
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And about that draw; winners are generated by a computer-driven, randomized draw. The contest closes on Thursday, September 30th at 11:59pm PT. Tickets are good for one year.
This week’s question for readers:
WHAT SATISFIED YOUR CHILDHOOD SWEET TOOTH?
Responses to last week’s question:
DO YOU WANT TO LIVE TO 100 AND BEYOND?
I choose not to ponder this question for myself—there are too many unforeseeables that could change my answer. But I’m certainly rooting for my bright 97 year-old, former eighth grade school teacher to make it. Every year he phones me (as well as my husband) to wish us happy birthday on the appropriate days. He probably does the same with others he taught many years ago in Penticton High School. As we wade into our dangerous eighth decade there’s something very reassuring about having your grade eight school teacher phone you to wish you a Happy Birthday. Everyone needs a buffer between themselves and the great “hereafter”—an elder to validate your history, to remember the house you lived in (in this case across the lane from his and his wife’s), to remember your parents, and even your dog. I’ll never feel old as long as I have Mr. Crittenden in my life and the ability to reminisce.June Macdonald
I work for a plumbing company. Back in 2017, our company was working at a seniors hospital in Abbotsford B.C.. One day, myself and two workmates met a fellow who was residing there. He was 106 years old and had to use his fingers to pull up his eyelids. He said to us, ” whatever you do in your life, don’t get as old as me.” He was an interesting fellow, one of the more active people there.Matthew Jordan
Yes, I’d like to live to 100 or more, but I sure as heck don’t want to merely exist to that age. If I stop living a life that gives me pleasure and stimulation, then I would hope to make an exit via MAID.Lorna Blake
This past spring many graduates of our high school Class ’60 started a chat group on Facebook. Everyone bragged that, after 60 years, they were still strong and groovy just like back then. They all said they will live long. When I told them I intend to live to at least 104, it intrigued them. Oh, me too, each one replied. Now they all sign off their message with a code: C’60 104. When one celebrated his 78th birthday last week, I said, “You have only 26 years to go.” Realizing life is short, I continued, “Live your life to the fullest, bud. Carpe diem.”John Marasigan
I live by the credo that it is better to plan on living to be a 100 and dying tomorrow, than planning on dying tomorrow and living to be a 100.Mel Fast
My husband kept a running countdown on an app on his phone until he retired in June 2017. After that, he started keeping a countdown until his 100th birthday in February 2058. I hope he makes it! I’ll be 98!Chris Walton