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Sunday, February 04, 2007Candy
My mother was reduced to a five year old today when she spotted a box of Good and Plenty candy on my father’s night table. She was frozen in her tracks and immediately transported back to the 60’s and kindergarten, “Oh man GOOD and PLENTY! Honey where did you find these?!!” she took a couple of the pink and white candies and then launched into the good and plenty jingle... a jingle that’s been around since the dinosaurs walked the earth….”
“Once upon a time there was an engineer
Choo Choo Charlie was his name, we hear.
He had an engine and he sure had fun
He used Good & Plenty candy to make his train run.
Charlie says, "Love my Good & Plenty!"
Charlie says, "Really rings my bell!"
Charlie says, "Love my Good & Plenty!"
Don't know any other candy that I love so well!”
I was amazed that this woman remembered all the words to the jingle mind you this lady has been known to mess up on her own children’s name… when we correct her she responds with “ ayyyy please you know your freaking name”. The shared childhood memory of that licorice candy made her and my dad reminisce on some of their favorite candies as children. I sat back and listened in on their conversation and watched them be taken back to a simpler time in their lives….
Candy Necklaces :
Mom: Oh man remember how nasty they’d get on a hot summer day?! I remember I’d put on a necklace and a bracelet on before heading into central park to go bike riding with my mom everyday. By the time we’d get over to the west side the my neck and wrist were looking like a surrealist painting! Your neck would be all all sticky from the necklace and dirty thank you very much.
Dad: Yeah but you’d still suck on the thing and your friends would take bites out of it! Man thinking about it now . Those things were kind of disgusting!
Mom: It’s a miracle we made it out of childhood alive man.
PEZ candy and dispensers…
Dad: I loved those! I had all different kinds, superheroes and what not.
Mom: For some odd reason my dad would always get me the Popeye or Olive Oil one. I didn’t like the candies too much I just liked the way they shot out of the dispenser.
Dad: I loved the candies! I used to run down to wool worth’s everyday and by the refills for my dispensers. Remember when Mia was little she hated them? She used to bite into grind them with her teeth and spit them out.
Mia: I hated them so did Caity, we loved the dispensers though! Remember I had the Muppets, Caity had a Pebbles one and Stevie had the ninja turtles.
Dad: Oh yeah who can forget those? They were a candy and a gum! They were banned in my school because the altar boys got in the habit of sticking the gum under the altar at church.
Mom: Hun weren’t you an altar boy?
Dad: Yup for like 8 years.
Mom: Now honestly hun who stuck the gum under the altar at church?
Mom: I thought so. You’re too cute.
Dad: what about you?
Mom: My clearest memory of razzles would have to be me and my cousins 15 deep back in Park Slope sitting all over the stoop of my grandmother’s brownstone sharing packets of razzles with each other.
Dad: What about the pilones (lollipops) with the jonjoli (sesame) seeds in them?
Mom: Ayyyyy and the dulce de coco, dulce de leche bars.
Dad: ah si and the black coconut and guava paste thingies. Oh and those sesame seed bars!
Mom: I can’t front I didn’t like the guava and pineapple paste bars but I loved everything else. I remember the white kids in the hood would stare at me and my cousins as if we were eating moose balls every time we came out of pompo’s with a bag of Latino candy.
Dad: I forgot you grew up in a white neighborhood. Poor kid you had to suffer for a limbe eh?
Mom: Na man my grandmother,and the house keeper used to keep us in limbe for days when the summer months came.
Dad: Nena what’s a Pompo’s?
Mom: Pompo’s was the only grocery store in Park Slope that carried Spanish specialty items at the time.
They spoke of Swedish fishes, wax lips, gum cigars, candy cigarettes, mary janes, little wax bottles filled with colorful liquids, gold foil wrapped chocolate coins, chunky’s, chocolate ice cubes, licorice strings that were several feet long, candy lipsticks, Choward’s violet gum and candies which were originally meant for smokers but kids loved them too. They let out a very unique sweet smell that was recognized by everyone even if they didn’t see the packaging.
Talking about the candy from back in the day triggered memories of their childhood during the Vietnam area. My mom recalled when she moved back to the upper west side and her reaction to seeing so many African-Americans and being shocked the first time she saw a group of bare footed hippies chilling in Central Park. My father recalled the Vietnam vets that returned back to the projects from the war hooked on heroin or so traumatized by what they had seen out there they were barely able to function. They spoke of how they saw everything around them involving the Latino community changing. How the generation of Latino and Black college kids were changing things in New York in their community and how they were mesmerized by it all.
As my dad poured a few Good and Plenty’s into my moms hand she confided to him that she didn’t know why seeing the familiar pink and black box of Good and Plenty had made her so happy because she didn’t even like the candy when she was a kid. He told her had the same reaction when he saw the familiar box despite the fact that as kid he wasn’t too fond of them either. I don’t think it was so much the familiar box of candy that had made them so happy it was the accompanying wave of nostalgia that it made them feel.
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