Childhood

10 Flashbacks to Childhood Candy in the 70s

1. Lik-A-Stix

This treasure came in the form of three connected paper pouches, filled with what was essentially colored and flavored sugar, and then this long, flat “stick” that looked like somebody had stepped on a piece of chalk. You took the stick, tore the opening strip off the pouches, and you shoved said stick into a selected powdery goodness until it was nicely coated. Then you went after that stick with your mouth like you were trying out for the sequel of “Debbie Does Dallas”.

This was great fun until the powder levels got too low in the pouches, and then your stick would present you with increasingly-disappointing levels of pure energy. Which meant, of course, that you would then have to up-end the pouches into your desperate mouth, because we were not about to waste any of that mess. Trouble is, being children, we were relatively uncoordinated and the powder would get everywhere, all over our faces, making us look like clowns on crack.

2. Now and Laters

These were like little squares of especially- resilient taffy that came individually-wrapped in a little row of packaging which advertised that the contents contained candy jewels that would last forever. This was a fascinating concept to the childhood mind. Something sweet that you could eat for the rest of your life? I must immediately snatch up one of these packages and pester Mommy about it until she gives in or takes another Valium and doesn’t care what I throw into the shopping cart.

And, somewhat true to the promised duration of the sugary pleasure, it did indeed take some time to get these things down, unless you happened to have jaws of steel or simply didn’t bother to chew things before swallowing. You would chomp for a bit, suck for a bit while your aching baby teeth rested, and then chomp some more. Sometimes you would eventually succeed with consumption; other times you would get bored and just chunk the gooey wad under the couch.

3. Wax Lips

These little items were exactly that, hunks of “edible” wax manipulated to look like human lips. Well, lips that had taken a dip in the collagen pool a time or two. We would shove these things in our mouths and then run around pretending to be somebody else, like movie stars or cheerleaders. Trouble is, you couldn’t really talk when you had the wax in your mouth. Or breathe, actually. So the entertainment factor was somewhat limited after about three minutes of near asphyxiation.

Yes, you could theoretically eat them, but no one really enjoyed this angle very much, as the flavor was comparable to chewing on an unscented candle, and just as pointless. More castoffs for the candy graveyard under the couch.

4. Pop Rocks

Despite the enticing rumors, Mikey the Cereal Boy did not perish whilst consuming this treat, although it was great fun to contemplate candy that could kill. And while the candy, once placed in the mouth, did not quite reach the supposed explosive results that were hinted at in advertising, there was definitely some type of minimally-lethal radioactivity taking place. The sparkly bits of Kryptonite would create a mildly-startling semblance of crackling and movement, thusly keeping children occupied for a good five minutes so Mommy and Daddy could work on repairing their broken marriage.

Unless you were one of those little urchins who suddenly discovered that you did not care, at all, for the sensation of something unholy squirming about on your tongue. Who knows how often the insides of a wood-paneled station wagon were rudely coated with Pop Rocks residue when an unpleased child could not get the window rolled down fast enough.

5. Gold Nugget Bubble Gum

After forking over your coinage, you were presented with a little white fabric pouch, with its very own drawstring, containing bits of coated chewing gum that had been processed by some machine to make said nuggets look like something somebody found in one of those gold rushes back in the day. This was a win-win situation, as not only did you get something you could chew annoyingly for an extended amount of time (something children cherish), but you also had a clever tiny satchel wherein you could later stash small objects of great value to your young mind.

Downside? There was something wrong with the flavor of that gum. And some of the “nuggets” were tiny little bits of relative nothing, so you often had to use up half the bag to get a decent chew. And since now everybody had a treasure bag for holding miniscule cherished keepsakes, bags that looked exactly the same, mistakes would often be made about which bag belonged to whom, thusly resulting in intense, heated sibling altercations that would last for years to come.

6. Laffy Taffy

Yet another entry in the “how many ways can we make a buck with essentially the same candy” line of product promotion. I was personally disappointed at this particular effort. Yes, it was candy, so of course I would eat it, because God wanted me to do so. But still, the advertising for this product, in the form of jovial cartoon fruits, gave the impression that I would laugh hysterically with each bite. This did not happen. Instead, I just chewed. A lot. (Side note: Despite the allure, do not accessorize your sister’s hair with a gooey wad of sun-melted Laffy Taffy. Nobody wins in this situation, especially you and your plans to leave your bedroom in the foreseeable future.)

7. Candy Cigarettes

This one is kind of a shock, reflecting back. But these things were all the rage in the decade of plaid polyester. Hey kids, guess what? You can have your very own pack of cigarettes, just like Mom and Dad! Okay, yes, you can’t actually light these little tubes of compressed sugar, but we took the time to add a little bit of pink coloring to one end so you can pretend that they are burning. Now run out and buy a pack so you can psychologically train for a future addiction!

8. Chuckles

 

These were basically square gum drops, although they did have a more robust sugar coating and a somewhat stronger flavor. And they were certainly colorful. But again, I was disappointed at the advertising promise of instant jocularity, this time in the form of a manic clown who would later have a career resurgence when Stephen King wrote that creepy “It” book. Sadly, I did not laugh whilst consuming, I only gained weight that forced Mom to shop in the “husky” section of Wal-Mart.

9. Bazooka Gum

These little squares of long-term chewiness were accompanied by your very own tiny comic strip, a little thing you could fold out and peruse as the sugar hit your bloodstream and eventually convinced you to act inappropriately and get yelled at by adult people. Most of the jokes in the strips were amazingly lame, but as a budding scholar, I appreciated any gift of literature I might receive. But what the hell was up with that weird chalky coating on those little squares of gum? Something wasn’t right there.

10. Blow-Pops

This was a mind-blowing creation at the time. Listen up, you screaming and hyperventilating little urchins, we have a double candy for you. We start off with a lovely flavored sucker. Yes, it’s a little big for some of your mouths, and it has that odd, protruding band around the equator that feels a little strange on your tongue and can catch on your teeth. But that’s because we’ve hidden an extra special prize inside. Sugar-drenched, chemically-altered bubble gum!

So get to suckin’, tiny tater tots. And eventually you will reach the treasure within. Sure, we should have realized that some of you wouldn’t be able to wait, and you would start chewing on the sucker before the proper time, making it feel like you’re trying to ingest broken glass in a tar ball. But hey, bad things can happen when you’re unsupervised because your parents are stoned and watching “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” in the other room. The room with the swag lamps, the shag carpet and a TV that only has three channels. And a crushed-velvet couch with an amazing amount of discarded candy globs underneath it, a dusty Island of Misfit Sugar Toys.

Cheers.

 

Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” on 03/02/12 and “Bonnywood Manor” on 07/18/14. Minimal revisions were made for this post. Story behind the photo: This is the backside of one of my Bonnywood Manor business cards, a stolen but fitting quote that I thought appropriate when discussing the allure of evil candy. (Yes, Bonnywood Manor is a registered company in the state of Texas, shocking as it may seem.) But all that aside, now is the time for you, dear reader, to step forward and comment below about your own favorite childhood candy. I know you all have stories. Unleash your sugary secrets…

 

47 replies »

  1. Oh deprived British childhood! We did have Sweet Cigarettes (the word Candy did not exist in Britain) and we had Sherbet dib-dabs (lollipops you dipped in legalized cocaine) and sherbet fountains whereby you sucked the powder through a licorice straw which eventually got clogged and clumpy. I imagine this was what sparked the bright idea of rolling bank notes to snort cocaine. In fact I am convinced that the confectionary industry spawned the children who grew up to rule the drugs industry and find it quite gratifyingly ironic that legalizing marijuana has beget all sorts of special candy stores popping up like magic mushrooms across the liberal states 😂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Wait, I need to know more about this licorice straw thing. I have an extreme fetish when it comes to licorice, and I am more than willing to try any new flavor that trips down the pike. (Completely true: As we speak, there is a packet of key lime pie licorice in the ginormous candy bowl which dominates the kitchen table. It’s quite scrumptious.) As a youngster, we used to take those long, hollow tubes of cherry licorice, bite off both ends, and then use our improvisation to slurp up a Coke (the beverage, not the “Scarface” accessory).

      As for the MaryJane candy stores, I haven’t yet visited one here in the states, but I have perused a few in Amsterdam. (Research purposes, of course.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • My love for licorice is deep and true. The fountains have the look of a firework …. I think you can still get them. I can also see that you need to try Pontefract Cakes which are the daddy of all licorice lovelies in my view. I even used them to quit smoking many years ago. It did mean that my yellowing teeth were replaced with black ones but it felt like a small price to pay 😉

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  2. I sure remember candy ciggies—horrifying that they were ever produced—and Bazooka gum. But I never ate much candy as a kid because I was allergic to corn syrup. As a consequence, I learned to read labels at a young age. I seem to have outgrown that allergy, but I still avoid corn syrup and that weird stuff called high-fructose corn syrup.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Oh, looks like every country has its own set of dubious junk that we can fondly think back about, forgetting that we either hated those, or they gave us diarrea for a long time.
    We had a small “tuck shop” at primary school, where we got candy twigs, on which I blame my dentist’s international vacations.
    Candy cigarettes, we had those too. Disgusting item. Tasted like powdered chalk mixed with sugar.
    We had “bubble gum”, which was a baby pink blob of thing you chewed and chewed and blew large bubbles and freaked out the adults around us.
    Add to this a whole bunch of traditional Indian sweetmeats – kamarkat was a rock solid item that broke many a tooth, but fondly sought after (not by me). And so on…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, “dubious junk” speaks a universal language. It’s everywhere, tempting and taunting us with its worthless allure. Still, despite realizing this, I’m still a naughty little boy when it comes to the candy. Just since I’ve started responding to the comments on this single post, I’ve already had a key lime pie licorice stick (blame LeggyPeggy, she reminded me of them with her comment) and three Coconut Almond Hershey’s Kisses. SOMEBODY in this house needs to quit buying candy… 😉

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  4. The bazooka gum reached the Philippine soil when i was growing up ..so yes twas so cool reading those lame jokes in a piece of paper while chewing the gum..which makes me wonder whatever happens to them now? They seemed to have lost in oblivion..

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  5. Didn’t often get lollies, but this is what springs to mind from way back all those years ago:
    Cobbers – little 1.5cm squares of hard caramel covered in chocolate – think they were about 1c each back then – now (if they even still make them) they are probably a dollar each!’
    Musk Sticks – long pink ridged sticks of “who knows what” – loved them then, still do.

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  6. The only one I can connect to is the the pop thingy. I remember there were only found in exclusive shops selling imported goodies. Going by the name Magic Pop, they were definitely something I craved – if not for the sheer amazement and ‘magic’ of it, at least to show off to all my friends and relatives, a majority of whom were (and still remain) unaware of its existence. To this day, I try to hunt them down, but they continue to pledge allegiance to select shops and thwart my efforts of capture 😐😶
    And cigarette candy?? Really??? 😱

    Liked by 2 people

    • I must confess to the same dual yearning for certain candies in my urchin days, in that not only did I enjoy shoving novelty items in my mouth, I also wanted to impress my friends and neighbors with my acquisition of things trendy and hip, at least among the urchin set. They mostly didn’t care, and then we would all get over it and run play some stupid childhood game down near the neighborhood creek… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • I do recall the candy dots, but only because my youngest sister came along 13 years after the birth of moi. I remember her lusting for the colorful dot strips, whilst I was already out of the house and lusting for alcohol… 😉

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  7. Pixy Stix, maybe a 60’s leftover but man…Like sucking on a Fizzy without the foam. Along that candy cig line and also available at the TG&Y Candy Counter, where we all hung out to spend our nickels and dimes and dream large about Clark Turney’s hot big sister, was something called Big League Chew. Shredded bubble gum in a pouch. The dregs are probably still there, buried in the dirt of a OKC hundred Little League baseball diamonds. And Brown Cow. The All Day Sucker. Guaranteed to painlessly pull loose teeth, as well as crowns, dental implants, fillings, enanmel and stuck food. In fact I think it was like using a detailer’s clay bar on your teeth. My mother had been a dental assistant. I had to purchase and binge on the half mile ride home or suffer the consequences of baking soda and salt toothpaste applied with a wire brush.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I LOVED Brown Cow suckers, as well as Sugar Daddies. And yes I lost fillings and teeth over those suckers…We had Big League ‘chew” here too, which my brothers thought was so cool to stuff a wad of in their cheek, and ‘spit’ like real baseball players did…I thought it tasted like shredded newsprint personally..

      Liked by 2 people

    • Oh please! I got stranded (abandoned) in a trailer east of Arkadelphia in early February 1977 and lived on Snickers, baloney, stale bread, a couple of Swanson frozen dinners, a grocery bag of mediocre home grown and “That Girl” and “May Tyler Moore” re-runs for the longest week of my life! Following my conversion to Feminism, to this day if I eat a Snickers I am overcome with a brief Ladies First rapture…

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  8. ALL of those on your list struck some sort of chord (we share decades in common in our chronology). In Utah there were also root beer barrels (little root beer flavored barrel shaped hard candy), Alexander the Grape (little grape flavored sugar bombs), Bottle Caps (which were supposed to taste like soda – cola, lemon lime, root beer and orange (I think)..but which really tasted odd and were strange in texture too, Gobstoppers which always went stale because it was too boring to eat a bunch of jawbreakers…the 70s were the oral fixation years (hence the candy ciggies I suppose), we had Bubble Yum or Bubblicious bubble gum – mostly in watermelon or fruit punch flavors (which made them stand out from the usual bubble gummy flavor of Bazooka ((interesting factoid: You could take those paper comic strips in the Bazooka gum packs, wet them down and give yourself strange little temporary tattoos…)), Grape, Cherry or Lemonheads, Zotz (Pop Rocks’ milder cousin…bigger than Pop Rocks, but with less zing in the filling stuff inside the candy; and those humongous ropes of bubble gum (Bub’s Daddy) in cherry, sour apple and grape…. whooo.

    I lost fillings to Now and Laters…my teeth were in sad shape as a child (foster parents don’t expend wads of cash on foster children’s dental care or they didn’t in the 60s anyway), and my teeth weren’t great to start with. I entered junior high with more fillings than any other kid for miles around (I bet). And I loved sticky hard to chew goodies like Now & Later, Laffy Taffy, and the like…. not a winning combination.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I can honestly say that I remember every one of the treats you mention, so we clearly and instinctively reached for the same goodies, proving once again that we share the same spirituality. (Wait, that sounded kind of odd and pompous. Oh, screw it, I’m too tired to go back and edit) Anyway, I had a few teeth issues as well, although nothing overwhelming, unless you count braces, the medieval kind of that day wherein you had enough metal in your mouth to tune in Tokyo Rose. Speaking of braces, there are certain foods I couldn’t eat during that ordeal that I still cannot eat today, most likely a psychological issue. I cannot eat corn on the cob, period, even though I love detached corn with butter and salt. (Or loose corn that has been roasted and then doctored with honey and salt. Try it if you haven’t, it’s deelish.)

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  9. Okay, the tattoo factoid that had slipped my mind nets you some kind of award. Remember silly putty? You could mash it on the comics and lift up and you had the comics on silly putty. We thought that was stupid cool until we found out it turned silly putty a nasty color and what? The comics were backwards! Good call on the water tats…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman! Never ever missed it! One of my favorite treats was the Chunky chocolate squares, any time my mom stopped at a Circle K or 7-11. I wonder if they still make those… 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG! How could I have forgotten about the Chunky chocolate squares? With the raisins? OMG, Part Deux! I loved those. But I didn’t get them very often, because they were more pricey (at least in Broken Arrow). In a shocking example of child abuse, Mom would sometimes get a Chunky for herself and then toss me a less-satisfying Hershey Bar or an occasional Payday. I mean I also loved the lesser options, but dang, Momma, do you really have to eat yours in front of me? 😉

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    • Perhaps some day I will share the sordid tale of the Saturday night wherein we were all bored and I tried to shove an entire set of wax lips BEHIND my own lips, just to see what I looked like in the mirror. Naturally, things went awry, I had a medical-attention moment, and none of my siblings cared. Perhaps this was yet another foundation block in my eventual blogging? Hmm…

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  11. How do you people remember all this stuff?!! I think I killed all those brain cells starting somewhere around the last year of high school.

    … but if we’re talking about Smarties, that’s a different story. Mmmmmm. Smartieeeeees!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Trust, I wholeheartedly embraced the brain-cell killing around that time as well, nearly making a career out of it. End result? I can remember exactly what I was doing on the afternoon of July 13th, 1976, but I couldn’t tell you anything I did yesterday without sitting down and piecing together clues on a notepad. I guess I just killed different cell groupings than you did.

      Love me some Smarties. What are your thoughts on Spree?

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  12. That Gold Nugget Gum was a complete rip-off. My parents bought some for us, once, and I was SO disappointed that you had to chew the whole bag to make it worthwhile. I complained loudly and bitterly to my parents who must have regretted surprising us with what they thought was clever packaging.

    I laughed at “the candy graveyard under the couch”. That is too perfect!! In fact, if I look under my couch right now, I might find such a graveyard…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Untold millions of children never learned to properly trust society after the disappointment of Gold Nugget Gum…

      There’s a graveyard under our couch as well, but it mostly consists of 127 battered cat toys and a yo-yo… 😉

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