Browsing for Candy

Vintage candy boxes and wrappers

A nickel was a fortune in 1967. You could choose from dozens of confections that virtually assured that you would also have mercury-laden fillings in your teeth by the time you were a teenager.

Oh well. We may have ugly gray dental work, but we also have priceless memories.

Let’s browse through Moonwink Grocery’s candy shelf and see what we can find.

The gum was always near the top. In fact, it still is, in the convenience stores we have today. Hmm. Well, I see Beemans (famous for having pepsin, I guess it helped you digest your food), Black Jack (in case you wanted your gum to taste like licorice), Clove (I always loved that stuff), Fruit Stripe (we loved striped stuff. Remember Stripe toothpaste?), Teaberry (kind of clovish tasting, as I recall), Cinnamint, Chiclets (both standard size, and those irresistible tiny ones), and finally Trident, for those who weren’t keen to the idea of getting cavities.

Nobody I hung out with chewed Trident. It was a dime instead of a nickel, and those who preferred the expensive stuff were not to be trusted.

Also located at the top was the roll candy. These included Certs (forget it, they cost a dime. I guess that Retsyn they put in them must have been expensive) and Life Savers. There were others, too, but I’m having a hard time remembering them.

Moving down, we see the sucker section. Beside the familiar Sugar Daddies, Black Cows, and Slo-Pokes, we have BB Bats (they were only two cents!), Tootsie Pops (also two cent bargains), big grape suckers (they were mega-cool. About every fifth one would have “winner!” printed on it in edible ink. That meant you got another one free!), and for the REALLY budget-conscious, Dum-Dums. They were only a penny.

Dum Dums boxes from the 50’s

I loved how Dum-Dums would have offers on the wrappers. You could get stuff like pencil cases, baseball caps, and the like by sending in a wrapper and a buck or two to: DUM-DUM BASEBALL CAP, followed by an address. We always got a kick out of the idea of sending mail to such an addressee.

Ah, the candy bars. Clark bars (a Butterfinger clone), Bit-O-Honeys (those were disgusting to me), Zero bars, Milk Shake bars, Zagnuts, Oh Henry! bars, Butternuts, and my favorite: a bar covered with salted peanuts (no chocolate) called Payday. Obviously, I’m missing many other brands found today, but I’m trying to focus on the lost/obscure stuff (with the exception of my still popular Payday, of course).

Next to the candy bars was the taffy/big sticks of gum section. Laffy Taffy, Abba Zabbas, pink cigars made of gum, Bub’s Daddy, and the no-nonsensically named It’s Great could be found here.

While they weren’t around in the mid 60’s, two other gums from your past deserve mention.One was Love-Its, which came in a little cloth flower-power bag. The other was a cherry gum which came in the form of a rope about 18″ long. Help, anyone, with the name?

Now, the smaller candies that came in paper sacks or cardboard boxes. Sweet-Tarts, Razzles, Bottle Caps (though they might have come along later), Good-N-Plenty (hawked on TV by a little engineer named Charlie), Milk Duds, Junior Mints (Cosmo Kramer pointed out that EVERYBODY loves them), Chuckles (sugar coated jelly. Mmmm), Jujie Fruits (as much fun to pry off your teeth as to eat), Now and Later, candy cigarettes, Charms, Mike & Ike, Red Hots, and Wacky Wafers.

Pixie Stix

Flavored sugar was a hit with the kids, of course. Pixie Stix (you would bit the end off and pour the delicious tooth-eating-substance into your mouth) and Lik-M-Aid (the sugar came in a bag and was meant to be eaten with an included dipping stick that you would moisten with your saliva. However, the preferred method was to simply pour it in your palm and lick it off. That’s why so many of us ran around with red palms) were side by side on the shelf.

Then there were the wax items. Nik-L-Nips deserve mention. They were little “pop bottles” which contained a syrupy sweet drink. After knocking back your nip, it was time to chew the bottle.

Now the collector cards. Besides the familiar baseball and football cards, there were Wacky Packages, some sort of cards that depicted bizarre cartoon monsters, Mars Attacks! cards (yes, they inspired the movie), and Civil War cards. Additionally, limited runs of cards would be produced for movies and TV series like Hogan’s Heroes, Get Smart!, James Bond, etc.

We now come to candy preferred by grownups. That’s how I remember it, because my mom loved them, but I didn’t generally buy them. The Seven-Up bar (man, I think they were fifteen cents! That was a fortune), Cherry Mashes (great, but they cost a dime), and Peanut Patties (peanuts coated in a sugary solution and dyed dark red. Weird, when you think about it) could be found there.

Down at the bottom shelf were the penny items. Super Bubble, Bazooka, Dubble Bubble, Kits (four little wrapped candies to a package for a penny!), those skinny little Tootsie Rolls, Safe-T-Pops (no stick, they had a thick looped string for a handle), jawbreakers, Jolly Ranchers, and Hot Dog gum (shaped like a frankfurter!) were available for those willing to stoop down to reach them.

As you can see, the bewildering display of tempting treats required much time to assimilate. You might take fifteen minutes to figure out what you could buy with that nickel.

We don’t have that problem any more. It doesn’t take long to figure out that a nickel won’t buy anything.

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