“C” is for Candy by Valerie J. Patterson

When I was a kid there was a store a couple blocks from my home.  Kesslings Drug store.  It was a grand old store.  Hardwood floors worn and darkened with age.  A magazine rack tucked away at the back of the store.  An old fashioned soda fountain and counter with the little silver stools that spun around and around.  And a penny candy counter with the little brown paper bags to put your purchases in.

Recently, I was reminded of this little haven from my childhood when a friend and I were discussing tastes and flavors from the past.  I mentioned Tangy Taffy.  This was a foot-long bar of pulled taffy that came in a wide variety of mouth-watering flavors like Cherry, Grape, Watermelon, Strawberry, etc.  My favorite was the strawberry.  The point about Tangy Taffy was that it was deceptively sweet before it got eye-wateringly tart.  I loved this stuff.

Another favorite of mine as a kid was the edible lipstick.  Now this was an awesome invention in confection.  It came wrapped in gold foil, with about half an inch exposed, and resembled a tube of lipstick.  If you licked the top and spread it across your lips, it actually left behind a streak of what I would call hooker-red sugary color.  If it actually dried on your lips, they became rather stiff.  This stuff tasted wonderful—unlike the real thing, which rather tastes like one would imagine an old tire would taste like were one to actually lick an old tire.

One of my husband’s favorites as a kid were the boxes of candy cigarettes.  These were long sticks of bubble gum wrapped in a piece of paper that resembled a real cigarette.  If you blew into the cigarette a puff of ‘smoke’ would actually filter out.  Isn’t it amazing that they sold these things and no one actually banned them out of fear little kids would become addicted to smoking?  Neither my husband nor myself are smokers and yet, this was a rather novel piece of candy.

And let’s not forget the wax mustaches and lips that tasted great for about ten minutes at which time the wax became unbearable to chew any longer.  And speaking of wax, what about those little soda bottles filled with sugar water in a variety of colors?

Or the candy coins wrapped in gold foil?  Or those long sheets covered in candy dots—pure sugar!  Oh and another favorite—Black Jacks!  The black, white, and pink striped pieces of taffy that had a very hard to describe but rather delightful taste of anise and spearmint rolled into one.  Razzles—the candy that magically changed into gum!  Giant Swedish Fish!

All of these things could be bought with a penny.  I’d take a quarter with me and come home with a sack of delights I would munch on then hide in my sock drawer hoping my sisters wouldn’t sniff them out, and rob me blind.

Kesslings is still there.   You can still buy a brown paper sack of penny candy, but it’ll cost you a lot more these days.  The cherry cokes are just as delicious, and still made the old fashioned way.  Sadly, the candy lipsticks are now crunchy sticks of tart candy that don’t leave behind any color.  They don’t make Tangy Taffy any longer, which really is very sad.  My husband recently bought me a package of Razzles and they were almost as good as I remembered.

My oldest sister still lives in my hometown.  When her son was little, I took him to Kesslings.  As my feet walked across the hardwood floors, I was transported into a simpler, more magical time—my childhood.  Never lose the flavors of your past.  They make you who you are, what you remember, and what emotions you feel.  Be open to new flavors, new memories, and new nuances of yourself.  There’s no better way to go through life than by tasting it.


19 responses to ““C” is for Candy by Valerie J. Patterson

  1. I remember almost ALL of those candies. And Pixie Stix. Remember them? They’re still around, I think. We had a local “Dime Store” that had a counter like that, as well and buckets of little toys you could buy for, guess what, a dime. 🙂 Ahh, this is a fun walk down memory lane. Thanks, Valerie.

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Ah, Pixie Sticks … I still buy them upon rare occasion. Pure sugar, but so sweet and sour at the same time, I can’t resist ’em! Thanks for mentioning them! Thank you for reading, Laurie! 😛

  2. I grew up with one of those stores. Pixie Stix and the fake cigerettes were my favorite. LOL What memories you brought back to me.

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Missie. So glad I could conjure sweet memories for you. 😛

  3. Me too, I remember those candies. Great visual post of yesterdays. It’s times like this that I’m so glad I love to read (and write). A book written in this era makes it all come alive again.

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Thanks, Lavada! I love reading about quaint little stores like this, too. My Grandma (my Dad’s mom) owned a grocery store and she had a candy case much like this one, too. I loved going to work with her when I was little and pretending to work at the candy counter! 😛 I’m fairly certain I ate more than I sold! 😛

  4. Gosh, the things we used to eat as kids. Don’t know about Taffy – is is some sort of toffee? But we used to have sweet cigarettes and sweet tobacco – strings of coconut dusted with cocoa powder, and jamboree bags full of all sorts, sherbert fountains and 1p chews, frozen Jubblies and so many now, I’m feeling sick at the thought. Love memories, though, thanks for bringing them back. 😉

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Hi Kit! Taffy is a sugar confection that resembles bubble gum–best I can describe it–but does actually dissolve and break down once chewed whereas bubble gum retains its consistency. Taffy is literally pulled over and over until it reaches a certain stage and then it is cut up and packaged. I have attempted to make taffy before with a wee bit of success. Very hard on the hands. Oh, and thanks for the reminder of candy chewing tobacco. Here in the States it was shredded bubble gum. Thank you so much for reading and sharing your sweet favorites with me! 😛

  5. Great trip down memory lane. There is actually a store in Virginia City, NV that sells a lot of that ‘old’ candy to this day. The only problem is, whenever we get to V.C. I go in there and can’t decide what to buy so I juGreat trip down memory lane. There is actually a store in Virginia City, NV that sells a lot of that ‘old’ candy to this day. The only problem is, whenever we get to V.C. I go in there and can’t decide what to buy so I just walk out with nothing. st walk out with nothing.

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Oh Linda! I completely understand about not knowing what to buy. My husband usually coaxes me into a little bit of several things, which works out well. Let us know what you buy next time! We’ll be reading with watering mouths! Thank you for coming by and commenting! 😛

  6. Don’t know why my comment doubled over itself…?!?

  7. Wonderful, Valerie, what memories it brought back! Rootbeer barrels were one of my favourites; also Bonamo’s Turkish Taffy, which could be put in the freezer for a while and then smacked smartly on the counter to give you dozens of little pieces that were easy to eat–much easier than trying to gnaw off a chunk. –Karen

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      My husband really likes rootbeer barrels, too. I don’t think I’ve ever had Turkish taffy. However, when I make homemade hardtack I sometimes pour it out into a pan (instead of candy molds), let it chill, and then drop it on the counter so it splinters into edible-sized pieces. It’s it’s still warm enough to be pliable, I twist it into shapes, dust lightly with confectioner’s sugar, and serve. Yum! 😛 Thanks for stopping in and reading and commenting, Karen!

  8. I have fond memories of flying saucers – rounds of sherbet covered with rice paper – and yes, those sweet cigarettes. Remember feeling very grown up in the cinema making those little cloud puffs into the air as I watched the Saturday morning picture show 🙂 Fun post, Valerie!

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Tricia, I got such a chuckle reading your post above about sitting in the theater! I can easily remember wanting to look so grown up. Thank you for reading and commenting. 😛

  9. great memories evoked here. My grandmother lived across the street from a store and they had the long wooden counter with glass case with all the goodies in there. Ten cents made for a full bag of the good stuff.

    Would love to have tried the candy lipstick. Sounds fun!

    • Valerie J. Patterson

      Know what you get for ten cents now?

      I don’t know, either! 😛

      Jillian, I think you’d have been as enamored with the candy lipstick as I was. Thanks for reading and commenting! So glad the post recalled sweet memories for you, too. 😛

  10. Tangy Taffy is now packaged as the large bars of Laffy Taffy. It still has that wonderful tart taste.

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