----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: The Sweet Taste of Childhood (Or, Whither the Candies of Yesteryear?)

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Sweet Taste of Childhood (Or, Whither the Candies of Yesteryear?)

In the halcyon days of my youth, one of life’s greatest pleasures involved riding my bike to the store for a treat. I lived next door to my best friend and whenever we were bored, we’d hop on our bikes and pedal to “The Square,” a shopping center that contained an independent drugstore (Bill’s Drugs) with a most alluring candy aisle.

Our pockets would jingle with dimes as we made our selections. The brightly-colored packages gleamed under the fluorescent lights and each sweet treat looked so enticing that it was hard to choose. Would it be Fun Dip? Lik-m-Stix? Tart n Tiny? Nerds? Runts? Rubble Rubble? Big League Chew? Sugar Babies? Jolly Ranchers? Pop Rocks? Blow Pops? Sweetarts? Pixy Stix?
Lisa liked Tiny Tarts, Jolly Ranchers and Sweetarts, but I was a big fan of Runts and Fun Dip. I also liked the blueberry-flavored Bubblicious. I think they still have it, but now it makes no pretensions to having blueberry flavor. It’s simply called Blue Wave.

As we got older and traded in our bikes with banana seats for 10-speeds, our tastes evolved somewhat. I got heavy into chocolate, like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Junior Mints and Skor bars. But I have fond memories of many of the sugary sweets of my youth. Sadly, some of them are long gone, as is Bill’s Drugs (it’s now a Longs). What ever happened to those bits of gum that came in a tiny cardboard container and tasted like “Pink Lemonade”? You would open up the little spout and pour them directly into your mouth. And what about Tart n Tiny? They always reminded me of little pieces of pastel-colored chalk, but they tasted good (well, at least at the time). What ever happened to the giant Sweetarts that came three to a package? You would get yellow (lemon), green (lime) and pink (some sort of tangy berry). I would always save my lemon one for last. I still see Fun Dip once in awhile, but the dip flavors have changed. Now they change color in your mouth or something. But at least the dipping stix (pure sugar!) seem to be the same.

Even my beloved Runts have become harder and harder to find. Once in a while, I’d see the Chewy Runts on the shelf, but they were nothing like the good old Runts in the yellow and orange box. I started to get worried that maybe original Runts had been discontinued. They were awfully hard on the teeth, and I envisioned some lawsuit over a cracked tooth or a broken filling that forced Willie Wonka to abandon the original formula and stick with chewy. But a few days ago, I realized that the original Runts were still in existence. I found a big box of them at Target and I bought it. Much has remained the same. The bananas and strawberries are still my favorites and I still avoid the orange ones. But there are no-so-subtle changes, too. What are these new flavors, watermelon and blueberry? I want none of that! And were the Runts always so cloyingly sweet? I didn’t remember the harsh, faintly chemical aftertaste as a child, either. Still, it was reassuring to know that a tiny piece of my childhood is still out there, available for 99 cents, and just the thing to conjure up memories of long summer days where a ride to the store for a treat meant that all was right with the world.


  • At 8:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I continue to believe that you are a gifted writer and this is the stuff of a weekly column in your local newspaper at the very least. Why not pitch them with this material. The halcyon days of Bill's Drugs would certainly resonate with the home folks. Try it with the local daily and
    with your weekly paper. LOL.

  • At 2:31 PM, Blogger Bruingirl said…

    I LOVED Lemonheads and Now & Laters. They still have lemonheads, but I have yet to see a now & later. I really liked the green apple flavor. I remember the ice cream truck driving through our neighborhood and for one dollar, you could buy all sorts of goodies that caused cavities!! :)


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