Saturday, February 23, 2013

Five Memorable... Candies

Ahh, one of my favorite subjects! I used to have an awful sweet tooth. It has faded over the years, I believe mostly from not feeding the beast, but parts of my brain still light up when I just think about all those sweets that I have been fond of over the years. If I were talking about favorites, I'd start with Big Hunk, PayDay, Almond Joy, Snickers... but I'm not. I'm talking about memorable. So let's start!

Old Fashioned Taffy Slabs

They cost about five cents each and were quite large, but very flat, about like a sheet of cheap posterboard. they were sandwiched in a sheet of waxed paper and looked sort of like Neapolitan ice cream with their three colors. Though they weren't in my short list of favorites, I liked them pretty well. 

Our options for candy-buying were limited at our house, out in the country pretty far from a store. But during the summer, when we spent days at Grandma and Grandpa's house, we were in a better position. Our regular store for candy-buying was directly across the road in this country neighborhood. But a short-lived new neighborhood market sprang up towards the end of the dead-end road. If there had been sidewalks with blocks, I guess it would have been about a block and a half down. It wasn't better than our usual store, but it was different. And that made it worthy of checking out. So sometimes we strolled down there to get our candy. 

One summer day, I bought a slab of taffy. (slab makes it sound so, massive. I should call it a "leaf of taffy.") I paid my nickel and waited until I was almost at my grandma's to open it. When lo and behold, I saw that I had inadvertently picked up two. One was stuck to the other. 

Oh the dilemma! My well-developed little conscience, that little angel all in white with a sparkly halo, said, "You must turn around and take it back." My little id, that little critter with horns said, "You didn't mean to take two. He should have noticed it and peeled them apart."

"No, it's the right thing to do, and you always do the right thing."

"That's ridiculous. It's only five cents. Keep it."

"I can't believe you'd keep it and eat it!"

"Just eat it up so you can quit feeling so disturbed!"

So of course, I ate it. Right after the other one. But it's funny; two in a row didn't taste nearly as good as just one at a time. And worst of all, I hurt my bruised tooth on it.

(Sidebar: I bruised my tooth when my cousin Randy and I were running through the sheets hanging on Grandma's clothesline. Whee! I'm running right into this solid thing and it gives way before me! Until Randy's head met my front tooth in the middle of the sheet. It turned gray, hurt, and after a long while, whitened up again.)

I suffered with my sore tooth for probably a day and a half. And wouldn't you know it, that annoying little angel was right there, harping at me, "I told you so!" So that's how I took it and crossed my heart that I would be honest next time. 

Candy Treasure Chest

I don't know if they were actually Neccos, I don't think so, but they were similar in color, shape, size and texture. They came in a box about the size of a small box of band-aids that was decorated like a pirate's treasure chest. Along the same lines as Cracker Jack, a small prize was nestled inside along with the candy wafers. It was usually a plastic thingy, like a little golden figure or clear doo dad. The wafers were ok, and the prizes were nothing special, but the marketing was good. Getting A PRIZE inside EACH BOX was worth the nickel.

This was in the days long before any kind of factory sealed product. Anyone and their auntie could open anything up in a sly way and do whatever they wanted with the contents. But that sort of thing didn't usually happen back then. So, fully trusting, as only 6 or 7 year olds can do, I bought a Treasure Chest out of the bin, started on the way back to Grandma's, opening it to eat on the way. 

What the...? It was only half full. Cheated! I turned around and walked back in the store to get the situation remedied. I walked up to the counter.

"I opened up my box, and it was half empty."

And here is where I learned one of the Ways of the World.

"How do I know you didn't eat them when you walked out?"

I had no answer for that. He spoke truth. How did he know that? I had just assumed that people didn't do that sort of thing, and that people would believe you when you told them the truth. So, disappointed and a little confused, I just turned around and walked out, pondering what had just happened. 

I guess the lingering lesson on this epiphany that I carried into adulthood is this"

CYA! Because they might not believe you.


I'll bet that if I asked you about nostalgic or favorite products, you could name the first time you tried it. That's the way it was with Chick-O-Stick. The little store that was directly across the road from Grandma's had a charming little candy area at the front. It probably wasn't charming then, but we would look at it nowadays and coo over the worn wooden bins that held the Pixy Stix (2 for a penny) and bags of Gold Nugget gum, the hardwood floor, the wire racks of little toys and comic books. 

I was always looking for the Next Good Thing. I joke now that my favorite flavor is "sampler." Yeah, I like that one, but what new one have you got? One day, with a nickel burning a hole in my pocket (that I probably bummed off my grandfather), I saw a brand-new candy lined up in a basket next to the counter. It looked like nothing I'd had before. Even the coconut dusting the orangey surface did not dissuade me. It looked INTERESTING, and it was! Roasted peanut butter threads in crunchy buttery sticks. And if you ate it slow by just sucking and gnawing at the top edge, leaving the bottom in the cellophane, it lasted a long time. Chick-O-Stick became my new favorite candy. And it is also wrapped up in the good feeling tones of Andy Goats Market, the candy mecca for the kiddos in the neighborhood.

Now if you knew where my Grandparents lived, you would say, "What the heck was a little market that seemed to have mostly candy in it doing out there? And staying in business?" It was one of those little farmworker neighborhoods along a highway a few miles from town, surrounded by orange trees and irrigation canals. I never gave it a thought, until one day recently I was talking about it to my mom.

"Andy Goats Market? Well, the other half of the store was a bar!"

Now that she said it, I could vaguely remember a curtained off section behind the counter...


Toblerone is simple. The first time someone gave me a bite was my new boyfriend. Now my husband. So it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy when I have one. And even though both of us prefer dark chocolate, I like the milk chocolate ones because that was the one he gave me.


I didn't really even like mint that much. Occasionally I'd get the cinnamon ones, and sometimes someone would pass you a fruity one, but liking them was not the point. The mint ones were the ones for the job. Peppermint specifically. You might be a spearmint person, but if so, you were sort of rare. I was fond of wintergreen, and that is almost mint, but it had a passing acquaintance with the scent used for toilet bowl cleaner, so I wasn't sure that would work. 

And you see, it had to work. We were all counting on it, because of the awful truth. The awful truth was this. We all had bad breath. Every last stinking one of us. I'm still not sure why the little kids didn't, and the adults had a different kind of bad breath. And besides, they already had their sweethearts, whereas we, the teenagers were still looking. And the only thing that could approach bad breath in its terrible magnitude of horrors was sweat stains under the armpits. 

As we entered the church for Sunday evening services, we girls checked our purses for the essential contents: lip balm/gloss, Certs, hand mirror, bobby pins, tissues, a few dollars for Shirley Temples after the service. The front 3 pews at the left were where you could find us teenagers (plus or minus a couple years). When we judged that we had about 5 minutes left, we would surreptitiously pop a Certs. This was no time to be selfish. You had pity on your pewmate, because you never knew when you would be stranded without a Certs yourself. 

Afterwards, mingling with the boys and the other girls, we could be confident that we had sweet breath, sweet minty breath, not befouled with whatever random odors our mouths, we were sure, were constantly producing. 

Ah. It's a pity that teenagers have to be so self-conscious and unsure of how they appear. Did we think that our breath was bad because of savvy marketing? Probably. But the end of it is that it now irritates me that I felt that way. And I wouldn't buy Certs if they gave me a free coupon for some.


  1. Wow! I feel so privileged to have introduced you to Toblerone. I might also suspect that you are now free to be against Certs since you got your own person.


  2. Great post! I'll have to keep an eye out for anyone offering a Toblerone lol