Childhood Candy

Nothing is sweeter than your favorite childhood candy. Mary Janes, candy cigarettes, Necco Wafers, Bottle Caps, Abba-Zabas, or those horrific wax bottles than I cannot fathom why anyone would enjoy. Candies from the past that aren’t really around anymore are a true treasure. So when you see them randomly somewhere, like in a tiny little gas station you just happened to pop by, of course you’re going to get excited, hold it incredulously in your hand, and then buy it. This can go one of two ways. You try it, and it’s everything your seven year old brain remembers it to be, and you’re filled with joy, or it’s terrible, and you wonder how you ever enjoyed it as a kid.

Today I found one of my favorite candies from childhood, Toxic Waste. This was a candy I only ever saw whenever we went on field trips to museums in elementary school. It was always in the gift shop, so I’d have to wait to the end of the trip to get it. But today I found it on a shelf in Claire’s. I walked past it and then did a double take, shocked to see the familiar plastic yellow barrel.

I totally flipped out, bought it, and immediately tried it, not listening to the voice in my head telling me it might not even taste good to me anymore. And guess what! It was great! Kind of painful, though, as most sour candies are, but it was exactly how I remembered it.

If you ever feel sad you can’t find your favorite candy, remember Amazon exists. What are some of your favorite candies? Do you despise sweets? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!

58 Comments on “Childhood Candy”

  1. Cost Plus World Market (or whatever they’re calling themselves these days, grump grump) usually has a whole section of vintage-type candies. I bought a rocky road bar there a while back because those were a high treat when I was a kid. Alas, my taste in chocolate is much better these days, and it really didn’t taste all that good.

  2. I loved those little wax things because they seemed so strange. I didn’t necessarily enjoy eating them, but I approached them in an experimental manner and try to figure out “why do these two things go together? Who first thought this was a good idea?” :) Also my big brother liked them, and when you are 4 years old you don’t need any more reason to be a fan of weird wax candy.
    So many things are not exactly how you remember them – I’m glad you had the chance to enjoy. Nothing makes for better stories, reflections on the past.

  3. Not the sort of thing I should bring to my workplace: I’m a biologist! The Lab Safety Inspectors might not be amused! If you’re on I95 in Connecticut, first you have my profound sympathy since I know exactly what that’s like. Anyhow, several rest areas on I95 in CT have a store called It’s Sugar Fix; they carry Toxic Waste Candy.

  4. Bit o’ Honey’s still around, and still good. Childhood favorites … loved SweeTarts and Hot Tamale (that cinnamon-flavored candy; doesn’t really taste like either tamales or cinnamon, but it’ll leave an impression). I miss Marathon Bars and their homoerotic commercials.

  5. Do Pixie Stix still exist? I loved the shit out of those. Who knows why … paper tubes of sour powder that would choke you if you didn’t have enough saliva in your mouth. Every Halloween my siblings would all give me theirs … I didn’t even have to trade, because if they didn’t give them to me they’d just throw them away, lol.

    High school favorite … Zero bars. You still see them around occasionally, and I grab one every time.

    When the one British grocery store closed down I thought I’d never get Jelly Babies again – then, like you, I remembered that Amazon exists now. Huzzah!

  6. There are a couple of online stores that still have those old candies, including one of my long-vanished faves, licorice records (a strip of flat black licorice coiled around a small jawbreaker). But I’m lucky — Good-n-Plentys are still around, and they still taste like they used to. Why yes, I do like licorice, why do you ask? :-)

  7. @ ladybrianna: Yes, there are still Pixy Stix. There’s a metaphysical store near us called Pixie’s Intent, and the owner keeps a large jar of them on the counter as freebies for customers.

  8. Nibs. Thick, sweet licorice. They don’t make them like they used to. Smaller, less in a pack.
    I also love Mars Bars, and they make them without ALMONDS anymore. That was the point! Sigh.

  9. It’s fascinating to me that in an increasingly global economy I, as an Aussie of 46 years old, don’t even recognise any of these brands. We did have candy cigarettes, for sure, but the stuff I remember from my youth was:
    – Sherbet, wrapped in paper, with a liquorice stick in it. I think it was just called “Sherbet”.
    – Lolly gobble bliss bombs (popcorn covered with caramel, I think).
    – Polly Waffles (marshmallow covered in chocolate).
    – Redskins (I’m not even sure how to describe these; sort of raspberry flavoured hard candy that softened as you chewed it. Not very PC packaging or branding, for sure).
    – Blackjacks (liquorice flavoured cubes, that frankly were pretty disgusting even at the time).

    And we had weird ice creams too:
    – Buffalo Bill (a vaguely sheriff head shaped ice cream with a bubble gum ball for a nose).
    – Guess What? (a gimmick of ice creams that were coloured “wrong”; blueberry was chocolate, chocolate was vanilla, and so on).

    Some of these doubtless are still available; Sherbets are the only ones I miss.

  10. Nibs. Thick, sweet licorice. They don’t make them like they used to. Now Twizzler took them over, yuck.
    I also love Mars Bars, and they make them without ALMONDS anymore. That was the point, ALMONDS, dammit!

  11. I love violet pastilles. My father used to buy me these: ,which I think you had to be in the big city to buy then, and I adored the interesting taste and the sophistication (small me thought) of them. I still love them, and love violet-flavored desserts/candies/liqueurs, which aren’t popular here.

    Note that European violets are different from American violets, which are tasteless and scentless.

  12. SweeTarts and smarties. My area has a chain candy store that specializes in vintage candies and WILLIE WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY on endless loop.

  13. There was a candy that was only at Walgreens when I was a kid called Crave. It came in plastic test tubes and used xtreme kool letterz on the packaging with goofy flavor names like “Shock the Monkey”. It was basically pixy sticks with the sourness turned up to max and it also painted your mouth.

  14. Necco wafers are bleh, but Sky Bars are good. I went to college down the street from the Necco factory and tantalizing chocolate smells would waft by as one passed it!

  15. Some cousins and I were talking a while back about Grandma’s house and that you could always count on her having candy dishes (my Mom had one of them and there’s some talk about who gets it) around with candied orange slices, circus peanuts and, my favorite, neapolitan coconut candies.

  16. Oh, and for the Christmas holidays, ribbon candy. But only for Christmas.

  17. I miss Seven Up candy bars, but Pearson’s has no plans to ever bring them back. They had 7 different fillings in one candy bar, cherry, coconut, caramel, fudge, jelly, maple, and brazil nut. Apparently they switched it to mint, nougat, butterscotch, fudge, coconut, buttercream and caramel before their demise. I don’t think I ever had a Sky Bar, but I’m sure it is/was a pale comparison.

  18. If you want old candies, do check out the Vermont Country Store. Sometimes they actually commission replicas of much-missed candies.

  19. Favorite candy from when I was a kid? The official candy bar of Altoona, Pa. – the Mallow Cup. I’m pushing 60 and I still like them.

  20. At the beach (on the St. Lawrence Seaway) the candy … shack? … sold a candy bar called “Milkshake”. It cost a nickel, was as big as a house, and tasted incredibly rich and creamy. I don’t think I’ve seen it since. Now that I think about it, it is possible it was Canadian. That was…almost fifty years ago? Even if the candy bar hasn’t changed, I have. These days I strongly prefer very dark chocolate.

  21. I worked at a music store (instruments, not records) in high school which had a candy machine in it. On my breaks I would get a coke from the drugstore across the street and a handful of Hot Tamales from the machine in the store. Those were good times. My favorite treat to sneak into the movie theater is still Good-N-Plenty. Nobody else in my family like black licorice, so I don’t have to share, either. I also still love hard root beer candies.

  22. K-Bars, which you’ve probably never heard off unless you were in NZ.Hard toffee slabs in bright colours and fruit flavours, wrapped in wax paper. If they warmed up enough they were chewy, but sometime they’d just snap. It was always a contest to figure out if they would break first or your teeth would. I’ve just found out they’ve recently been made into chocolate bar flavours, which is just wrong.

    Or Musk sticks / floral tablets. Pink, sweet sticks or hard tablets with a floral, musky scent and taste. Once reviewed by a sweet expert as tasting like your Grandma’s handbag smells, as if that was a bad thing.

  23. I lost my sweet tooth shortly after puberty hit and though I’m sure I liked sweets as a kid I can’t remember any specific ones. My parents never had them at home and in the mid to late Sixties there weren’t that many places you could buy sweets where I lived (in Holland.) (Plus, whatever money I managed to save was spent on comics.)

  24. @jerrycritter Definitely remember Lik-m-Aid. The white stick was the best part – except when it got so rough that it made your tongue bleed.

    I liked wax bottles a lot. Suck all the nectar out of them and then chew on the wax until your jaw hurt. Good times.

    I miss Marathon Bars, although it seems there’s an English version called Curly Wurly. I would get some but I’d be afraid they wouldn’t taste the same.

    I find it incredible that they marketed candy cigarettes back in the day. They tasted like chalk but we ate them regardless.

    Just thinking about circus peanuts and those sugared orange slices makes my teeth hurt. My dad loved those things.

    Space Food Sticks aren’t a candy, per se, but I loved those things. Anyone remember those?

  25. At the grocery store, there used to be a huge display of Brach’s candies in bins; you could mix and match the flavors and they were fairly inexpensive ($1.99 per pound at that time). Various nougats and cremes covered in cheap chocolate, and something my mom liked called ambrosia, which was white nougat with bits of jelly and almonds, like broken glass Jello. I don’t know when they phased that out.

    In a somewhat further neighborhood was a German deli. Aside from various sandwich meats, sausages and imported food, they also carried a stock of European candies. There was some type of fruit flavored taffy they carried in thin strips, also a very good chocolate in foil wrapped bites called Ice Cube. Dad always requested a type of salty licorice called Salmiak Pastillen, and I grew up with it, rather than licorice whips.

  26. Gummi Bears, Life Savers, Payday and Snickers. Malted milk balls as well.

  27. Clark bars. Very hard to find these days, but similar to Butterfingers or Fifth Avenues (also a hard find) but generally more chewy, less crunchy, and not as stale–unless there’s dust on the wrapper. Then, as with all chocolate bars, do the smart thing and pass on that stale package of disappointment.

  28. The biggest hero in my childhood neighborhood was the kid who figured out that you could make a puff of “smoke” come out of a candy cigarette by carefully blowing between the paper wrapper and the candy. There was some powdered sugar or something in there, apparently to keep the paper from sticking to the candy, and you could only get one puff, but we all thought it was cool. Why, yes, most of us did go on to smoke tobacco cigarettes, how ever did you guess?

  29. I’m a little old to have tried those toxic barrels, and certainly never tried one of the sweets in it when my nephews were young, honest ;)

    A few years back I discovered an online store that sold some of my favourites from days of yore, when I’d go down to the corner shop and get a quarter of a pound of whatever, or get a ten penny mix. The result was a small accident involving my credit card and ending up with enough sugar to keep a class for 5 years olds hyper for a year:)
    They even had the proper cola bottles that were so sharp they make your face go funny.

    The one sweet I did try that didn’t hold up to my memories were the wham bars, they seemed to lack the extremely tart “bits” I remember from my youth (or at least have far fewer of them).

    “– Sherbet, wrapped in paper, with a liquorice stick in it. I think it was just called “Sherbet””
    In the UK they were called Sherbert Fountains, whilst we also had a version with the Sherbert in a paper package with a small fruit lolly, which were Dib Dab’s, or a version with two flavours of Sherbert and a solid Sherbert/sugar stick which were called double dips (all three were/are made by Barretts and still available).
    My favourite though was lemon sherbert usually sold by the quarter pound, which would stain your fingers and mouth, and was very tart and likely to leave you with ulcers if you ate too much.

    Is anyone else suddenly getting the urge to place an order for some incredibly unhealthy quantities of nostalgia?

  30. Haha, my 8 year old JUST had me buy him those wax bottles. He says he likes them. I don’t get it either! My favorite candy as I child that you can no longer get are Marathon bars. Do you remember those? They were a “braided” chocolate covered caramel candy bar. Amazon tells me there is something similar called a Curly Wurly. Might have to give that a try! The other discontinued favorite is one I actually started liking as an adult called Hot Dots. They are the Dots gumdrop candy but they are a strong cinnamon flavor. They stopped making them and nothing quite compares as far as I’ve found so far.

  31. My grandmother had a little neighborhood store with a penny candy counter, so I had access to the lot when we visited (except my mother would limit the amount I could take) so, yeah, candy cigs, lik-m-aid, root beer barrels, licorice whips, jaw breakers, bubblegum (and I’m about to turn 70 and I still have teeth!). My fave, though, were chocolate covered cherries, which were only available at Christmas, also the rum balls that my Great-aunt Josie made, which I guess are technically cookies.

  32. We used to love real malted milk balls – made with a good quality chocolate. Whoppers came in a cardboard carton that opened and poured like a half gallon of milk – back then they tasted great, the current maker of the brand uses poor quality “chocolate” like coating and they’re not worth the calories. Once in a while as a child we’d get Malteasers, imported from the UK and very tasty. I think there was a third brand, but I can’t remember it anymore!

  33. I used to love those red licorice pipes. I’m not sure why, something about the texture made them tastier than normal licorice. I did hunt down a box of them once at a novelty candy store online several years ago and they were as tasty as I remember, but I can only buy them in bulk, so I probably won’t be doing that again. It’s not surprising you can’t easily buy them anymore given that we don’t really want to be encouraging children towards smoking.

    My other favorite that no longer exists at all (I checked) is the Mr. Melon/Melonheads candies. They still make other flavors, but for some reason the watermelon ones were discontinued. I used to buy little boxes of them at the convenience store next to my bus stop in junior high.

  34. Loved Space Food Sticks (and Tang, what the astronauts drank!). My childhood favorites were wax lips and fingernails, and even the licorice mustaches. My son’s formative candy years were spent in London, so I buy him the British version of Smarties and Cadbury Flake whenever I can. Madame Hardy, the local chocolate shop in Richmond (near London) had rose and violet cremes, covered in dark chocolate – an acquired taste, but wonderful after you get over the unusual nature of the fillings.

  35. Someone mentioned pop rocks…if you’re interested in the nostalgia and feeling like fireworks, there are now “Fireworks Oreos” with pop rocks in the cream filling.

    We had a corner candy store that made the best cinnamon candy and fudge in the world (as far as I knew at the time). In terms of commercially available types, I’d agree with the lik-m-aid, pop rocks, cinnamon imperials, root beer barrels, and now & later taffy.

  36. lydydrew , The Milkshake bar was the first thing I thought of. I did a little research. It was produced by the Hollywood Candy Company, who also made Pay Day and Zero. They ended up being owned by Hershey, but Milkshake was discontinued. It was like a Milky Way, but with malt powder.
    David Wilson, Cheese Waffle cracker sandwiches are still available from Amazon. A company called Wise makes them and you have to order a box of at least six. They still taste about the same.
    There’s a chain of candy stores called Rocket Fizz that carry a lot of old candy and sodas, as well as a lot of international brands. It’s the only place I know to get Butter Rum Life Savers. They keep them by the cash register because they go so fast.

  37. Marathon bars! It warms my heart to know I’m not the only person who misses them. It had the ideal ratio of chocolate to caramel, and it took a long time to eat–the perfect candy bar for a child.

    @Susan, if you like malted milk balls, check your local natural food grocery to see if they have any in their bulk bins. My local independent co-op sells a really wonderful malted milk ball in their bulk snack section.

  38. @Nancy Regarding Marathon bars, did you bite into it and eat portions of both chocolate and caramel together? Or were you like me – warming the chocolate so it would melt away and then eating the caramel by itself?

  39. I sent my undergraduate years at MIT downwind from the Necco factory. Every day the air smelled like a different wafer.

  40. SailorBoy Lemfizz. Small (like maybe 32mm square by 4mm thick ) slabs of … something sherbetty compressed to neutron star density and acidified to rust remover levels of insanity. The lemon flavoured ones were *so* acid I used to make my tongue bleed and I still have the scars on said tongue 50 years later. Wucking funderful.
    Oh, and real chocolate of course. The Americans in the audience won’t have ever had that…

  41. Marathon bars!!! They were a simple braid of chocolate coated caramel and I LOVED THEM!!! They are no longer available in the US, but they make an identical twin in the UK called a “Curly Wurly” and I’ve gladly paid shipping to enjoy it again!!

  42. Bonomo Turkish Taffy–put it in the freezer, then take it out, smash on the kitchen countertop, and enjoy. Also, Atomic Fireballs–we used to see how long you could keep one in your mouth before the cinnamon burn got too strong. Sky Bars–four different flavors in one candy-bar.

  43. Unpopular but hopefully welcome opinion: Circus Peanuts taste like the good parts of my childhood. I don’t think I’ve had them since I turned into a (discreet) carb-counter a few years back, but I remember liking them when I did, and thinking they’re what every other marshmallow wants to be when it grows up. (Well, except for the literal mallows of the actual marshes.)

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