Humor

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 and flattened it. 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.

 

Previously published. Minimal revisions 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…

 

44 replies »

  1. Thanks for the memory lane stroll. I’d forgotten about those Lix Stix (and their companion, Pixie Stix) and a couple of others on your list. I had a soft spot for ice cream (still do) and that was my go-to. And I liked Rockets, as well. Discs of chemically treated, sweet-sour neon sugar, guaranteed to send any kid into orbit and their parents into despair. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I had never heard of Rockets. (Well, I suppose the fair thing to say is that I don’t “recall” Rockets. As with most people, there are quizzical gaps in my memory that widen with age.) After a quick Google search, I see that Rockets are called “Smarties” in the US, and those I DO remember. Isn’t it interesting that we often know the same things but don’t know that the we know the same things?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Neccos. Not the black ones though, yuck! (My ex almost killed Older Daughter with a Necco when she was like 2. She swallowed it. I was at work at the time🤦‍♀️)

    Zots!! Fizzy fun in your mouth!

    Those little wax “bottles” that had some kind of liquid surgery crack inside.

    Best place to get candy?? Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour

    A tasty treat I discovered watching Godzilla movies at the Rec Center one summer… grape Hubba Bubba with Red Hots inside.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Neccos were not a big thing in my childhood. I think they were around, but I don’t associate any memories with them. Zotz WERE fun and, interestingly enough, Partner just bought a big bag of them not too long ago. (I think I only managed to score one of them, so HE must have had a really good time.) The little wax bottles were around for a while, but then they disappeared. Since it was Oklahoma, I’m sure somebody pronounced them offensive to Jesus and they were ripped from the shelves.

      Now, this thing with grape Hubba Bubba and Red Hots. I’m scared and intrigued at the same time… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fun dip – that was my fave! Believe it or not, they still sell those candy cigarettes. My daughter gets them from our pool’s snack stand all the time. Most likely just to watch my shock and horror and she pulls a drag from a candy cigarette. They sell the whole box for a quarter, so, you know, sometimes she buys 4 boxes if she has a whole dollar. Oh, how she loves to push my buttons! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • You know, I thought I spied some candy cigarettes in the grocery store just last week, but I was too busy staying away from other people to conduct an investigation. We used to have a great time with them back in the day, especially when a tipsy older relative would snatch up one of packs only to be slowly disappointed… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • The candy-dot sensation didn’t hit Oklahoma until after I was in college (and I was much more concerned with pursuing alcohol), but my youngest sister was mad about them. I can recall images of her trotting around in her jelly shoes and attacking a swath of paper with her tongue… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Reeses, all and any size. End of story.
    In our neck of the woods we have the Whittakers K bar. This is a slab of neon hued toffee- available in six glorious flavours and colours- that requires the grip of a gorilla and the jaw of a Trex to free a jagged shard from the main slab. You can expect the loss of a filling at best, at worst the possibility of losing a molar or three. If you offer your younger sibling a bite, its bye bye to all Juniors remaining baby teeth. Mastication takes a jaw destroying ten minutes, swallowing the misshapen sugar laden wad leads to inevitable gagging. As you go blue and point to your throat most friends neighbours or siblings -anyone who has attempted to eat a K bar and survived- MUST consider this as an invitation to learn how to Heimlich.
    Unwrap with care.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m right there with you the Reese’s. We always have at least one form of such in the primary candy bowls at Bonnywood. I just checked, and the current stock includes Reese’s pieces (not my favorite, but certainly passable) and the mini-cups. Partner is found of freezing his cups (sorry for the possible imagery), which can be an interesting lark, but think it cuts down on the mixing of the flavors.

      Now, the Whittaker’s K Bar: I had to google them, but the packaging is certainly aggressively colorful. (Do they use the slabs to help planes find the runway, in a pinch?) It sounds like my dental work could not tolerate them, but I am nevertheless intrigued, a condition that often leads to me making very bad choices…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Stay intrigued, but don’t try. Once youth is in the rear vision mirror try a Kbar and its gummy grampa time. IWhen you googled ’em did you see the pic where they have three packs side by side, spelling out, at casual glance KKK? Unfortunate.

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  5. I remember most of these. I was way too poor to buy any of them but when I got older, I remember buying a Mallo Cup. I never liked Reeses Cups (and still don’t), but those Mallos, with their liquidy marshmallow centers were so much better than peanut butter. (I like peanut butter okay, but not if it tastes like peanuts.)
    I’m not a big candy eater anyway. I prefer doughnuts or cake.
    I remember “b b bats” and the wax lips and the little coke bottles filled with colored water. I also remember Mary Janes. I’m not talking about the shoes or a drug. (I think something is called a Mary Jane now…maybe pot or something.)
    If I had to buy candy now, it would most likely be licorice (which is very bad for you.) Sigh.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We didn’t have tons of money, either and, before my parents divorced, Dad usually wouldn’t even allow candy in the house, so candy was a true treat until I was about 8 or so. After the divorce? Well, apparently the older relatives thought candy would help us get over the trauma and it appeared much more often. I certainly took advantage of it. Me: “I’m feeling a little blue..” Granny: “Honey, here’s a quarter. Run down to the store on the corner and get you somethin” I ran like the wind…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Never has the phrase ‘divided by a common language’ seemed so appropriate! I only vaguely recognise one of those sweets (that’s what we call them) from your descriptions, so maybe we were spared by an EU trade barrier, but are about to be inflicted with these horrors as part of the price for a post-Brexit trade deal. Suddenly I’m grateful to be 66, so as not to have the few teeth I have left being attacked by that stuff 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Only one of them, vaguely? That seems terribly sad. Then again, I’m sure you had a wealth of sweets that I’ve never been privy to, so I suppose it balances out in some odd way.

      And really, now that I think about it, most of the “candy” in the 70s was so chemically altered that it probably has a shelf life of a century or so, and there are caches of them in dusty warehouses, somewhere. Want me to round some up and ship them over? Even if you don’t want to risk your teeth, you could make a buck or two selling them in the vintage section on eBay… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • We had plenty of horrors here too, probably just by different names. I suspect the dental services had shares/stocks in the sweet/candy companies.

        That’s a very kind offer but I’ll pass, if you don’t mind. There are companies here already selling that stuff through Amazon and I don’t think I’m equipped to take them on!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Did you know you could mix the powder in the Lik a Stix package (we called it Fun Dip) with water and then use the stick as a garnish? Pair that with a candy cigarette and you were an instant adult. There was a kid in our neighbourhood who ate a bunch of wax lips then threw them up. It was fascinating and horrifying all at the same time as we watched from the picnic table bar, drinking our cocktails and smoking our candy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Trust, there was plenty of chocolate. I was just trying to concentrate on the more absurd things I shoved in my mouth with startling frequency. Mom is/was a tremendous chocolate fiend, and I was constantly raiding her stash of Hershey’s kisses and then denying it, despite all those little strips of white paper all over my bedroom…

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  8. Chuckles? That one I don’t remember, though we had something similar called Chicklets.
    One of my favorites was candy necklaces. And while I can understand if you never had them, you would have looked smashing in one. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I couldn’t swing wearing the candy necklaces, but I did get away with the candy bracelets. You couldn’t wear either one of them for very long in Oklahoma, though, in the summer, as sweat does not mix well with sugar… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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