Blast from the Past

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Most of our Christmas presents to each other involved getting a catalog and circling things in it. Takes the surprise out of it but it makes it easier on us since we are both a bit hard to buy for. But my wife did manage to sneak one over on me. There is a place that will assemble various assortments of candy – including the ability to pick from a specific decade.

She picked the 60s which is when I was born but my prime trick or treating and candy buying was in the early 70s. Still there were only a few things I didn’t remember. Funny how a particular item can take you back to a place in time. Of course, I look at some of those things and wonder why in the heck we were eating them in the first place.

Here are a few of the magical treats contained within the box.

The candy necklace. For some reason, this pops a memory of playing little league baseball. There was a little concession stand at the park and, one year, if the team won, we got treated to something. Why we would pick the candy necklace is beyond me but you always ended up wearing it but sticking part of it in your mouth to bite off the individual pieces. Nothing more than hard pressed sugar with a little flavoring but the way you ate it was cool.

The candy buttons! Hard colored sugar stuck to a piece of paper that you peeled off and ate. Sometimes the sugar crumbled. Sometimes it was like biting down on a little rock. Why were they popular? The other problem was you really couldn’t save them. I mean you could try but folding up a piece of paper with candy stuck to and putting it in your pocket really didn’t work. So once you started, you were committed to finishing the entire sheet of paper.

Colored sugar water in little wax bottles. I hope the liquid is shelf stable – maybe the wax preserves it. You have to bite the top off and then drain the liquid and then you are left with this useless wax shell. I guess the logic was you could chew the wax like it was gum. Except it wasn’t gum. I’m pretty sure we ate a top or two every now and then just because it seemed like you should. I mean why else would they give it to you. Otherwise, you could just toss the wax bottle somewhere. I suppose they would eventually break down. Maybe in the future, someone will find a layer of wax in a dig and wonder where it came from. The only attraction was that they were portable but give me Kool Aid any day.

Razzles were just a little off. Yes, it theoretically turned into a gum after you ate the candy shell but it wasn’t high quality gum. It turned into something hard after a few chews so you’d end up spitting it out. Not to mention that you would end up eating a lot of gum since it didn’t quite break away easily from the candy coating. The risk went up if you emptied the whole package into your mouth. But that was the only way to get a decent size piece of gum so you lived with swallowing a bit of gum that would supposedly sit in your stomach for years.

Ah, the Atomic FireBall an early way to prove how tough you were. It was a jaw breaker so you couldn’t bite it into pieces. You had to put the whole thing in your mouth and deal with the hot cinnamon rush. If it got to be too much, you could chicken out and take it out of your mouth for a bit at the cost of ending up with sticky fingers from the partially eaten candy. But if you could tough it out, the hot cinnamon only lasted for a few layers. Then, you just had a hard sugar ball with a hint of cinnamon. Still couldn’t bite into it until you got to the very end when you were a little tired of having it in your mouth.

Now I’m realizing we ate a lot of sugar as kids. And lots of artificial colors and flavors.

Jelly candy that wasn’t a jelly bean. Really, jelly beans were the only good jelly candy. You’d get these for Halloween sometimes. At least the outside was rolled in sugar so you had that going for you. Rationing Halloween candy was an art. You had to sort through it to see how much of each piece and divide them into the stuff you really loved, the stuff you could tolerate and the stuff you didn’t want to touch. I would normally focus on the mediocre stuff first – like these Chuckles – to save the good stuff for last.

Dots were false advertising. Look how the box claims they are gumdrops. I know gumdrops. I’ve eaten gumdrops. Dots, you are not gumdrops. Gumdrops were soft jelly candy but they were smaller than chuckles so you had about an equal ratio of sugar coating to gummy center. These things were hard. I mean you could smack them with a hammer and they’d remain unharmed and in the same shape. Biting one was a sure way to fuse your teeth together. You could keep one in your mouth for an hour and they’d still stick to your teeth, so you’d have to be picking pieces off your teeth after finishing them. No, they were typically tossed the first night on Halloween cause nobody was going to eat them. And it was always such a disappointment to come to a house and see they were giving out these horrid little yellow boxes. Towards the end, we may have just started tossing them into the street – why carry around something you have no plans of ever eating.

Along with the Dots, there was another loser – Good and Plenty. Licorice is the ultimate love it or hate it candy. We all hated it. It was like getting the black jelly beans in your Easter Basket. Yuck. So those two will eventually end up in the trash. Didn’t eat them as a kid and I’m not starting now. But I’m willing to try everything else. I’m sure that most of it will no longer be much of a treat but it did take me back.

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