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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Nine of the best candies of all time

Now that Halloween's over, it's time to empty out your goodie bag!Everyone’s got the candy of their generation, their neighborhood, and their tastes. What sugary delights sent young minds to greats heights when you were a kid? Well, let’s share. Here are some highlights from fourth grade:

Sizzles and pops

9. Lotsa Fizz. Also known by its more convenient nickname ‘Fizz’, these candies masqueraded as a regular ol’ hard candy, the kind you might find in a doctor’s office or a crystal dish in your grandma’s front foyer. Other than the snake-like packaging, linking individually-wrapped pieces together, there appeared to be nothing special about them. However, once you crunched into them, they released a tingly, carbonated bubble-liquid that sizzled and frothed on the tongue. A real advancement in the candy surprise effect. Good for a year or so

8. Massive, fist-sized Jawbreakers aka Dinosour Eggs. The big question here was who could fit these in all the way? Occasionally, a local big mouth would manage to squeeze it up in there, and then proceed to nearly suffocate while trying to simultaneously breathe and speed-suck the jawbreaker down to a smaller size with drool flying everywhere. It wasn’t pretty. You were actually watching them OD right in front of you. Of course, others would simply leave the giant jawbreaker on their night table and have a few licks before bedtime, spending a year or so patiently turning the smooth sphere it into a faded, rubbed-out rainbow of dried spit and sugar. Whatever you think about these things, they definitely came out on top of the Total Candy Minutes Per Dollar ranking.

7. Pez. Was it just me, or did Pez have a kind of weird taste? Don’t get me wrong — the dispenser alone was enough for some great memories, despite some questionable versions over the years.

Sour balls

6. Tear Jerkers aka Sour Balls. At the time, Tear Jerkers were a futuristic advancement in Artificial Souring Technology. They caused a massive sugar high epidemic at my grade school, with kids running over to the variety store at lunch to grab a new bag, daring each other to eat two or three at a time. The gum that remained after the sour powder was gone was always a wet, syrupy disappointment, and usually ended up in the trash to make more room in your mouth. But that sour powder packed a punch and it often left the insides of your cheeks all inflammed and torn up for the rest of the week. And of course, there was always the big question: who has the guts to eat the leftover patch of sour powder in the corner of the bag?

Don't break the stick!

5. Fun Dip aka Lik-M-Aid. Fun Dip was an entirely new way to eat your candy: Lick an edible candy stick and then use your own spit as glue to collect all the sugar-powder below. Well, it was a great long-lasting treat, as long as your stick didn’t come broken when you bought it. If that happened, you had to dive in with your wet finger instead. But you had to be careful, because it was that mark of the stained, purple finger that gave away why you weren’t hungry at dinner time. A lot of people would finish off by eating the actual stick itself for good measure which is sort of like eating your fork after finishing your pie.

4. Hot and Cold Nerds. Nerds was always a decent backup selection — it filled up the candy bag but was rarely the first pick. Sure, that little box of tiny, hard, asteroid-shaped candy offered two flavors in one box, but there was nothing too special about picking up Watermelon and Grape or Strawberry and Lemon. That is, until Nerds came out with the temperature-themed Hot and Cold Nerds box in the late 80s. Sure, maybe it was just bright, red cinnamon and bright, blue wintergreen, but it sure was fun alternatingly burning and freezing sensations in your mouth. Of course, there were always two kinds of Nerds kids — the slow, tantric, shake-it-in-your-hands-and-savor-it kids, and the minute men who instead preferred the all-in-one-go, head-tilt, box-shake manouver.

3. Bizarre Forms of Gum. Remember the glory days where gum came in so many different forms? There was baseball card gum, shattering and cutting the inside of your mouth like glass when you bit into it. There was Big League Chew, the shredded chewing tobacco gum. And of course there were Bubble Jugs, Bubble Tape, and even Bubble Gum Squeeze Tubes, which you pushed into your mouth like toothpaste, though with the exact opposite effect.

2. Pixy Stix. I always admired the straight-shooting style of Pixy Stix. Unlike the other candies, they didn’t dress up and pretend to be anything besides sugar. They were the real deal, straight up, just sugar in a straw. You want something gummy, sticky, sour, or chewy? Try the other guys. Now, if you want plain sugar, you’ve come to the right place. Available in regular size and occasionaly a Super Jumbo Straw version. Just be careful you don’t get dry-throat and gag on it when your brother pours a strawful down your throat.

Good luck kicking the habit

1. Popeye Cigarettes. These ones were the real deal, before they took off the red tip at the end and rebranded them as ‘Popeye’s Candy Sticks.’ Yes, after a dark, moody stint with the patch, Popeye managed to finally kick the habit. But good thing, or he probably wouldn’t be with us today.

Yes, finding and chowing down on some of the candies you grew up with is like sucking on sugary memories. Because how did it feel walking out of your local corner store with a wide smile pasted across your face, an empty wallet, and an armful full of candy?

I think we all know the answer to that.


Gateway drug to shotgunning a beer