While standing in line at the grocery store the other day, a little boy was having a tough day. Tears flowed down his cheeks like Justin Timberlake's hit song affirmed, "Cry Me a River."
The boy's mother, while frantically trying to empty her shopping cart, sighed; her embarrassing expression clearly indicated she was having a difficult time of it, too.
The elderly clerk, obviously a good grandma, reached under counter and pulled out a sucker. Sudden joy swept over the boy's face as the faucet quit leaking and smiles appeared on the faces of the other people in line. If my arms hadn't have been full, I would have applauded.
As I stood there, my mind drifted to my childhood and the little store near my school's playground. At recess, kids would line up at the doorway counting the pennies in their hands and wondering what candy they could buy.
Candy must have been invented as a cure-all. Whether it's the chocolate or the sensation of sugar, a piece or two or three always satisfied the taste buds.
We all had our favorites. Some were crunchy while others were chewy. Some were gummy while others were gooey. Many were sweet and a few were tart. It didn't matter.
As a kid growing up in the 1960s, the candy bars of choice were covered in chocolate. Add caramel, coconut, mint, marshmallow, peanuts, raisins and peanut butter and you'd get any combination of a Clark Bar, Heath Bar, Mounds, Almond Joy, Milky Way, a Chunky, Mallow Cups, a Bun Bar, Milk Duds, Junior Mints, Tootsie Rolls, Raisinets or Goobers. Put a stick in chocolate and you'd have Slo Pokes or Black Cows. I suppose as long as chocolate was part of the ingredients, you couldn't go wrong.
The granddaddy of all chocolate candies was the Goo Goo Cluster. I read some where it was one of the original candy bars. Those babies's were made of milk chocolate, peanuts, caramel and marshmallow. Wow! Imagine combining almost everything into one?
Take the chocolate out of the mix and you'd have a Pay Day or Zagnut.
Then there were the boxed candies. These pieces usually were made with licorice. Topping the list were Good and Plenty, and Snaps.
Others claimed to be fruit flavored (I guess for the '60s health-conscious) and included Jujyfruits, its cousin, Jujubes and Chuckles.
Next to chocolate, sugar products made the sweet list. And if Sugar was in its name, it took the guess work out of decision making. There was Sugar Babies and Sugar Daddies. But right up there was SweeTarts, cotton candy and taffy.
Every kid loved to chew gum and blow bubbles. Not all teachers were fond of it, evident by the punishment of placing a piece on the tip of the nose if you were caught smacking in class. Not cool.
Wrigley's had the market on gum, with spearmint, peppermint and juicy fruit flavors. However, it was a polite chewing gum. They should have had a disclaimer on the package that read not suitable for bubble blowing.
Rain-Blo gum balls made super bubbles while with Chiclets, you'd have to chew five or six pieces, and sometimes the whole box, just to have a chance at blowing bubbles. By the time you got the wand primed, you'd have to spit it out because your jaw ached.
Oh, we learned at an early age to never ask a grown up for a stick of gum. More often than not, you'd wind up with those weird tasting flavors found in Beemans, Clove and Black Jack.
And, were breath mints candy?
Life Savers tasted like candy but worked like breath fresheners. The nickel-roll sized candy, uh, mints came in Butter Rum, WintOGreen, PepOmint, SpearOmint and Five Flavors (an assortment of flavors).
But then there was Sen Sen, the original breath freshener that was black with a bitter flavor. Years later, I bet a smoker that Nicorettte gum couldn't taste any worse than Sen-Sen. I was right. On the other hand, Violet Mints weren't bad, though, it took a while to get used to sucking on flowers.
Other gimmicky candies weren't so complicated. None of the aforementioned compared to these candies because instead of chocolate or licorice, these candies were made of wax and syrup.
Come on. Tell me you didn't wear wax lips or a wax mustache, and then chewed them up like gum? Tell me you didn't like to drink wax bottles with the syrupy fruit flavors, and then bite the heads off the bottles?
Remember Pixy Sticks, candy necklaces, circus peanuts, candy cigarettes and candy buttons? Pure sugar, my friend. How about those cartoon character Pez dispensers? A plastic toy devise that filled with candy like one would load a stapler. All attention-grabbers that worked.
You had to laugh, just like the clerk, who tugged on my sleeve as she tried to get my attention. "Sir," she chuckled? "Sir, do you want me to ring up your order?"
"Sure thing," I said, shaking my head and reaching for a Snickers Bar. "Just add this last item."
I saw her crack a smile as she rang up the candy bar. She knew, that I knew, exactly how that little boy felt after he got the sucker. Content.