While waiting in line at a mailbox store, I noticed they had a whole supply of candy you don't see every day. The first thing that caught my eye was Freshen Up gum — the kind that explodes in your mouth as though that was something you'd actually want to have happen.
We couldn't get enough of Freshen Up during the heady days of my 6th-grade spelling bee in 1976. It still stands as a primary example of the novelty of a product being more interesting than the product itself. Kind of like Dread Zeppelin or team-building exercises.
I'm sorry to tell you I recently bought a pack of Freshen Up gum and took it to work where we all chewed it with nostalgia, then got sad together when it lost its flavor after 17 seconds. It made me think of Bazooka gum, which lost its flavor right after you were done chawing its dusty hardness into something palatable and reading the incredibly not-funny comic that came inside.
All of this chawing and reflecting made me think of other candy from my youth. I was given a generous allowance of 25 cents a week, which I would immediately take to the corner drugstore, where I would pore over the candy selection as though I were buying a condo.
A candy bar was 25 cents, my entire take-home income, or I could also get several pieces of small candy for a few cents apiece. Each purchase meant a lot, and the joy or disappointment lasted me the whole walk home. I recall the pure pleasure of trying a Marathon bar for the first time, as well as an almost soul-crushing disenchantment with banana-flavored Now-n-Laters.
So here, in no particular order, is the candy from my youth that I sincerely miss.
Choco'Lite: This was a candy bar from Nestle that came about in the early '70s. Am I the only one who not only remembers it, but craves it often? It was kind of whipped inside, so it was crunchy and light, hence the name. Choco'Lite had a yellow-and-brown wrapper, because hello '70s: The whole world was yellow and brown then.
Laffy Taffy Rope Candy: I didn't really like this stuff, which came in strong flavors, such as grape or resentment. The reason I ate it, mostly, was because my mother hated the smell of it so much, and whenever I brought it home I was sent outside to chew my rope on our stoop. I always felt like such a rebel when I ate Laffy Taffy. I was the James Dean of candy consumption.
Nik-L-Nips: There was nothing better than biting off the teensy wax bottle top and sucking out the liquid inside. Then, as further reward, you could chew the bottle! Wax and chemicals, man. What's better than that?
Fun Dip: To this day, I'm annoyed that they gave you two of those vanilla sticks when there were THREE packets of delicious powder. This makes no sense. I'd like to write a terse letter to whoever decided to cheap out on the kids of America in this manner.
I also really miss those Carnation Breakfast Bars that had a weird smooth consistency and were supposed to replace a glass of milk, so full of the nutrients were they. Allegedly.
I think the snacks of our generation were influenced by the astronauts, where they took real stuff and squished it all together in a convenient, floating-in-my-tin-can package. We're probably lucky we didn't end up eating every meal in pill form. Or Space Food Stick form.
See, now I'm craving Space Food Sticks. Oh, powdered childhood, how I miss you.