A few months ago one of my favourite clerks had attended an "adult" themed seminar along with 19 other people at one of the trendy local adult book stores. An armed gunman rushed in and robbed all 20 "students" of anything valuable they had at the beginning of the seminar Still visibly upset, I figured he needed to chat and as I listened he reached under the counter and added three more bags of candy to the counter.
As he continued to tell his story he kept munching on what I used to call penny candy. I began to remember how candy helped my sad childhood days and how my grandmother warned me that candy could spread polio. In those days everything created polio but candy was supposed to be the number one culprit. But now that you can no longer buy anything for a penny because Canada has begun phasing out the penny, out all we have left is memories.
My favourite penny candy was a pair of big red wax lips. Every summer day I would sit on the edge of the public pool kicking my legs in the water with the wax lips that were slowly melting in the hot sun.
If they were not available I would buy the little wax bottles and bite off the top and drink the liquid that was probably heavy on Red 40 food colouring. The bottles were made of edible wax but all everyone did was chew on them forever and then spit them out after the juice was consumed.
Our favourite hang out away from my grandmother’s eyes was Dion's lumber yard next door to my home. I would go to Mayheu’s corner store and with 10 pennies come out with a paper bag full of potato chips, marshmallow filled mini ice cream cones, wax lips, and Popeye candy cigarettes.
"Smoking" on our candy cigarettes, my friends and I would sit on the top of the piles of lumber and have earth shattering conversations about why I cut my bangs so short like Bette Davis. We soon skipped to speaking about the prospects of picking wild strawberries in the field and hoped the ill- tempered farmer was not going to come out and shoot at us with rock salt.
Candy today seems to have been taken over by power drinks and bars that have just as much sugar and caffeine in them as our penny candy did. A serving of Gatorade contains the same amount of sugar as twelve pieces of candy corn. No longer can a child go into a corner store and find the delights we had as kids. Today, besides the dollar store candy, the candy companies have designer lines to entice baby boomers into buying candy again- and not for a penny.
Jelly Belly’s founder David Price has teamed up with Leaf Brands to make the ultimate gold leaf coated “Beyond Jelly Beans.” Described as an exotic trip around the world and sold in crystal jars they can be yours for $500. Complex flavours such as Thai Lemongrass Curry or an Indian Mango are supposed to create an explosion of taste that hits all your senses. I think I would rather have a pair of wax lips without an edible ego.
After listening to the constant drone of the salesclerk still talking he held up his penny box of Junior Mints and asked,
And in a typical Seinfeld scenario I looked at him and said,
“Thank you, those can be quite refreshing!”
The penny has always been around and now that it's gone all those pennies you have been saving are only good for tossing in fountains to make wishes now.
Penny for your thoughts?
The Humm just published another of my stories in their newspaper and online page 7
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Cowansville High School book will be available in January