It was about a year or two ago while walking through a local drugstore when something caught my eye.
There was a display for two brands of chewing gum I hadn't seen in years: Teaberry and Beemans.
The last time I even heard the name was while watching THE RIGHT STUFF; Chuck Yeager “borrows” a stick of Beemans off one of the ground crew members right before he goes up in his jet.
“Got a stick of Beemans? I'll pay you back later....”
But I hadn't actually seen a package of it in years and shrugged it off as some novelty promotional advertising stunt on the part of Clarks, probably an attempt to get people to buy something anything if it jogged some nostalgic twinge of memory. Then later on I began noticing more candies from my childhood gracing the shelves of local businesses.
Cherry mash. Mike and Ike. Hot Tamales. Milk Duds. Laffy Taffy. Ju Jubes. Big Hunk. Charleston Chew. Cow Tales. Dots. Abba Zabas. Stuff I hadn't seen since the last time I visited the snack bar at the local drive-in theater that closed nearly twenty years ago was suddenly popping up on the shelves of local retailers. First it was the gift shop at the front of Cracker Barrel; but they specialize in nostalgia so I didn't think much about it. Then I started seeing candy from YesterYear on the shelves at World Market, which caters to a slightly more sophisticated clientele. That's when it really started getting my attention. World Market not only had candies I hadn't seen in decades but like Cracker Barrel a selection of soft drinks like Nehi and Frosty root beer I thought had gone out of business years ago.
Now since I am an adult that pays my own dentist bills, I don't ordinarily eat a lot of candy and when I do, I look for words like “sugar-free” on the label. Oh occasionally I would grab a Peanut Butter Twix or Snickers off the “impulse shelf” by the register at the grocery store, but , most of the time I paid little attention to the inventory on the candy aisle I spent so much time perusing as a child. For years I walked past the candy aisles of my local convenience store without stopping but when I first started seeing these ancient candies again I shrugged it off as my mere inattention to what they were stocking the candy aisle with. Maybe they were there all along for all I knew. If they got my attention at all it only sparked amazement that they had survived in a competitive consumer market after all these years.
Mrs Mom's daughter in BC saw a package of Razzles somewhere and put in a request; she wanted me to send her some Razzles. No Problem I told her; I'll pick some up. So once again I started looking around and found out not everyone carries Razzles. I hit every convenience store and drug store in my neighborhood to no avail.
Then I remembered a candy store I had seen while walking through the local “tourist trap” area of town, the Candy Barrel in the Fort Worth Stockyards district. I made the trip over there and spent a long time looking for a free place to park and went into the Candy Barrel, which lived up to its name.
Dozens of varieties of candies were on display around the store stocked in old wooden barrels. But there were no Razzles to be seen anywhere.
I finally found her some Razzles at a hole-in-the-wall kiosk at a local shopping mall (“Take A Break”) that anywhere outside of a mall would have been called a convenience store. They had rolling papers, cigarettes and cigarette lighters, but amongst the junk food and candy shelves I found honest-to-goodness packages of Razzles and bought several packages for her. Success!
I have rekindled my love of sweets in recent years however; Mrs. Mom introduced me to a line of candy bars sold in Canada I have gotten quite fond of like Aeros which come in a variety of styles: Milk chocolate, peppermint, white chocolate etc and Coffee Crisps both of which I filled my backpack with on the way home from my last trip to Canada (the Customs guy at the airport laughed out loud when he asked if I was bringing anything back and showed him my Coffee Crisp stash) and then recently a business opened up locally that may just prove to be the undoing of my healthy eating habits: Cookies and Cream.
Cookies and Cream is an old fashioned candy store with multiple aisles of glass jars filled with every kind of candy imaginable and also has an ice cream bar that features several flavors of Blue Bell ice cream and a separate counter just for their extensive line of gourmet popcorn. Just imagine popcorn flavored like pizza, macaroni and cheese, dill pickles, cheddar and bacon and my current favorite: Loaded Potato. I could just OD on the goodness contained within their walls; they even have sugar-free candies; I sense a new regular shopping destination after I take Mrs. Mom here for the first time.
Well Halloween is fast approaching and here I am without a single piece of candy to hand out. Just as I always seem to wind up doing my Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve with all the other people who put it off until the last possible minute, I'll probably be out looking for the cheapest candy bars I can find (“What's so FUN about half-size candy bars?”) but I have one rule of thumb I religiously stick with; I always buy candy bars I like just in case no trick or treaters knock on my door. I hate getting stuck with a bunch of unused candy but I'll be darned if I'm getting stuck with something I don't like. And consequently it's about the only time I ever eat Snickers or Reeses peanut butter cups anymore.
Mom's Last Word
I freely admit my role in turning him back on to sugar. When we're apart he always sends me reminders of Texas in care packages. Rotel, my favorite white chicken chili mix, he even paid $30 once to send a $2 package of corn flour when I couldn't find any in the small town I was in up North. It's only fair I return the favor.
Just yesterday I found Grilled Cheese flavored potato chips and Halloween editions of his favorite Canadian candy. As much as he protests he doesn't eat a lot of sugar, I'm pretty sure he's going to be diving into the box I send, leaving nothing but the wrappers by nightfall.