Before we ever had to worry about calories and triglycerides and saturated fats, there was candy. Not a lot, mind you; none of us were rich enough to have all the candy we wanted. But, when we really needed it, there was candy. A nickle or dime of our lunch money was often allotted to candy, and when we could spare it, a grocery delivery from Robert Davis' store often included something sweet.
Here are some of my all time favorite candy memories:
The Wowee Whistle. These came out around Halloween each year. They were made of wax, similar to the wax candy lips that you can still get. You blew on the whistle until you got tired (a skilled musician could actually produce songs), then you chewed up the wax. The wax was infused with a flavor similar to Beeman's gum, and was quite tasty.
The Black Cow was a chocolatey, caramel sucker similar to a Sugar Daddy but vastly superior in flavor.
In a stroke of marketing genius probably covertly funded by America's tobacco industry, candy cigarettes were available in packages that looked just like Dad's smokes, and with names that were often similar. The candy cigarettes tasted pretty bad, but they looked oh-so real.
I could always count on my Aunt Addie to have a stick of Clove gum ready at church when the sermon started getting a little too long. I was never a fan of Black Jack, but the flavor of Beemans is delightful, and Clove is probably the most unique flavor you'll ever taste in gum. These gums are still available at Cracker Barrel. I was never much of a gum chewer; I always felt that gum required too much of a commitment. After all, with candy, you chew it up, enjoy it, and then move on. With gum, you chew it up, enjoy it, but it just keeps hanging around.
As it turns out, my research reveals that astronauts probably never actually ate these, contrary to the advertising. Space Food Sticks were a chewy concoction similar to a Tootsie Roll, but much softer. They came in flavors like chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter, vanilla, and others. They were somewhat pricey, so we didn't get to have Space Food Sticks very often.
The Butter Nut bar consisted of caramel and peanuts surrounded by milk chocolate. It was not necessarily my all-time favorite candy bar, but it was a good go-to candy bar when you wanted something different.
Winner Suckers. No, this picture is not an actual Winner Sucker. Evidently, no photographic evidence of this great candy exists today. But, it did look kind of like this, with its cluster of grapes on one side (it also came in a cherry flavor, although I never bought that version). The other side of the sucker was flat, and if it had a little piece of tape stuck on it that said "Winner", you got a free sucker. Not a bad investment for five cents.
Hot Toothpicks. These cinnamon flavored toothpicks were popular because you got your money's worth for a nickel; enough hot toothpicks to last way past the time you finally got tired of them.
Wacky Packages were wildly popular among the younger set back in the 1960's. I include them here because you did actually get one stick of bubble gum with the package. I usually gave the gum away (I've mentioned my commitment issues) and laughed hysterically over the cards, which featured popular products of the day with their well-known advertising slogans slightly altered to produce hilarious results. There are several websites devoted to the vintage Wacky Packages of the 1960's and 1970's.
My candy bar. The Mars Bar. I ordered one at Burden's Candy Store each day during most of my school career. Back then, you ordered what you wanted, there was no self-service. You told the person working at the candy counter what you wanted, they retrieved it for you, and you paid them for it. For some reason, I always told the clerk that I wanted "a Mars Bar with almonds," evidently under the erroneous impression that there was a Mars Bar without almonds. The Mars Bar is no more; it has been replaced by the Snickers with Almonds. There is, of course, a Snickers without almonds, so be careful what you order. (Update: In the time since this blog entry was originally written, the Mars Bar has been reintroduced!)
Mallo Cups and Smoothies were made by the same company, Boyer's. I never cared for Mallo Cups; a chocolate and coconut shell with marshmallow cream in the middle. But Smoothies, that's different. A butterscotch and peanut shell, with peanut butter in the middle...delicious! Plus, there was a little card in each package that had an image of a coin. You saved the cards, which had coins ranging from five cents up to fifty cents. My sister Janet loved Smoothies, and she decided that she was going to collect enough coins (500 points worth) to send off for the prize, which incredibly was a box of Smoothies! She saved every card, as we all did, and after a while, she had enough points. She mailed her collection of paper coins to the company, and we could hardly wait until the box of Smoothies came in the mail. After what seemed like an eternity, a package from Boyer's arrived. With trembling hands, Janet carefully unwrapped the package. Sure enough, it was a box of...no, it can't be...Mallo Cups!