I’m far too old to go trick-or-treating anymore (according to everyone but me), but the trade off is that, as an adult who earns a paycheck, I can go to the store and buy as much Halloween candy as I want, whenever I want. And no one can tell me I’m too old to do that. So there.
The thing I miss most about the prospect of free candy was the random hodgepodge assortment that would be unveiled at the end of the night. Sifting through the sweets and chocolates, the hard candies and wrapped mysteries, the cheap stuff and the primo stuff. That is an element I long for. But as I said before, I’m adult now and I can do whatever I want (wahoo!), so I’ve decided to compile a list of treats I haven’t had in decades. This is what grown up Doc would want in his candy bucket.
Wax lips are a timeless and classic Halloween treat. They’re like those chewy peanut butter bites that come wrapped in orange and black wax paper. It’s not Halloween without them. Sure, bite-sized Mr. Goodbar and Dark Chocolate Hershey’s are great. But is it really Halloween if you don’t gnaw on some wax lips at some point? I think not.
I used the Spiderman candy sticks as a visual reference, but I do believe they came in other designs as well. They kind of looked like the stem of a Blow Pop after you’d eaten the candy part. Long, white, thin. And chalky. Their flavor was unique and hard to pinpoint. Not fruity or minty. Almost floral. Very subtle. As kid, I’d pretend I was eating bones. Totally sane thing to do.
I’m not even sure they make these things anymore. I think I’ve had a fascination with tier-colored sweets my whole life: Bomb Pops, candy corn, Jell-O 1*2*3. It’s just visually appealing to me, the blending of the colors. Add to that a nice, glossy sheen and boy howdy! That is one delicious lookin’ treat! I always found the wax plug at the bottom pretty interesting, too. Definitely added to its old time flair.
When deciding whether or not a candy is cool, one of the criteria I go by is, “can you pretend you’re a rabid dog while eating it?” When it comes to Zotz, the answer is “Yes!”, as screamed by Dee Wallace as she sits trapped in her Ford Pinto while Cujo stalks around outside. Who’d have thought something as simple as encapsulating sodium bicarbonate powder in a hard candy shell would produce such a wonderfully fun candy? It’s like eating candy-coated Alka-Seltzer, which I admit doesn’t sound appealing. But it works! Zotz, I salute you.
More chalky candy goodness! I don’t think either of these exist anymore. Their consistency lay somewhere between a runt and a Flintstones Chewable Vitamin. But how cool are those containers?! Eating bones out of a coffin and trash out of a trashcan. I miss weirdo candy. I have vivid memories of using the empty trashcan as a receptacle for liquids after I’d finished the candy. Like Kool-Aid and soda. I was a weird kid.
The wax lips, the candy sticks, the Alka-Seltzer candy and now these unfavored treats. My selections make me seem like a 70-year-old man. So be it! I remember getting these and those rainbow-colored candy dots on a strip of paper all the time as kid. Two of the most boring candies, but I couldn’t help myself. Anyway, Nik-L-Nips were basically just melted popsicle concentrate inside a little wax bottle. In order to sup the liquid, you had to bite off the top portion of the bottle. I guess I just really liked eating “interactive” candy.
Gatorade flavored gum! That is to say, lemon-lime flavored Gatorade flavored gum. A great concept in theory. Perhaps, as a naive kid, I thought it would be as enjoyable as that Dr. Pepper gum with the juicy center. Alas, it was an entirely different experience. I only had this once or twice as a lad, but I remember the flavor being so tart that I’d feel those sharp pangs behind my jaw that only the sourest candies could conjure up, and I’d have to immediately swallow the gum to avoid any further torment. I couldn’t imagine anyone — athletes or otherwise — chewing this gum leisurely. That being said, I wouldn’t mind trying it just one more time.
While we’re on the topic of gum, there are a ton of great gums from the late-80s and early-90s that I miss! I still remember the first time I had a Tongue Splasher: I was in 3rd grade and our teacher handed them out. I was immediately enamored: gum that came in a mini paint can (again, great packaging! Modern candy — you need to up your packaging game) that would completely stain your entire mouth and teeth a whole rainbow of colors. What’s not to love? And continuing with the mouth-staining tradition, Bucket ‘O’ Blood gum! The iconic pirate imagery and the thrill of pretending you had a bloody mouth, I miss it. Then there’s Slimer Bubblegum. There were a few “tubed” gums, but none as memorable (or as vibrantly colored) as Slimer gum. The only problem with these tubed gums was their consistency: you were basically eating a grainy, greasy gum paste, and you had to chew ferociously just to help it solidify a bit so that it would resemble the usual rubbery gum-like texture we’re all used to. And last but certainly not least: the Bubble Jug. Another great little package filled with pink pebbles and a curious pink powder. I’m not sure if you were meant to think you were eating beach sand (though not explicitly stated, the artwork does invoke beach imagery), but I can’t think of any other reasons this powder was included with the gum bits. It played no role in the gum’s final consistency. It just seemed to ‘be there’. But boy was it great!
Lastly, a tequila worm lollipop. I’ll be honest: I’ve never had a tequila worm lollipop. Definitely never had one as a kid, and still haven’t tried one as an adult. And in a weird way, I feel like I’m missing out on something. I’ve also never drank tequila with a worm in it, and this too makes me feel like I’m missing out. Quick anecdote: this may seem insane to people in 2015, but in the ’80s and early ’90s, you could take your kid into a bar with you. I have a lot of great memories from those times I was lugged to a bar. Free cherry cokes, free arcade games, and that lingering smell of stale smoke and dirty bar rags. That was livin’, I tell you. One of the memories I have from these times was spotting the bottles of tequila with worms in them. This absolutely fascinated me: adults drank liquid with bugs in them! This is what you had to look forward to as an adult. It seemed so strange and cool. I also remember my dad having a tequila worm lollipop in his dresser drawer, which also fascinated me an equal amount. So the final candy I want in my bucket is one I’ve never had, but would love to try: a tequila worm lollipop.
All this talkin’ about candy is makin’ me hungry for some treats! What about you, dear reader? What’s in your bucket?