When my children were young, my family used to enjoy traveling to a small nut and candy shop that we stumbled across one Saturday and kept coming back to as a reward for good grades and other achievements. The shop was a bit out of the way for us, but we’d make a day of it, stopping by one of our favorite restaurants and enjoying the chance to hang out together.
The store had a bit of everything: fine chocolates, nuts of all kinds, dried fruits, sweets and candies, and various bulk foods. I especially loved the store, because it reminded me of the candy of my youth. The store had lolly pops, gumballs, gummy bears, Atomic Fireballs, taffy, orange slices, gummy strawberries and blueberries and name brand candies like Tootsie Pops, Laffy Taffy chews, Pop Rocks, Ring Pops, Razzles, and Goldberg Dark Chocolate Mini Peanut Chews.
Soothing a sweet tooth
The choices seemed endless. We’d pick up a small shopping basket and we’d put in one or two items and then a few more and a few more. Before you knew it, you could easily be carting around a mountain of candy. We’d usually take everything back out and start again, being more judicious in our second attempt of what went into the basket. I have a sweet tooth and the temperament of a big kid, but I’m still a dad, I’m not that crazy to forget about the power of sugar. I was well aware of what too much glucose, fructose, or any of the various derivatives of sugar would do to my kids. Not to mention me.
Despite all the choices the store stocked, I was inevitably drawn to something tamer: pink Necco Canada wintergreen mints and butterscotch hard candies. If you’ve ever seen both, you’re probably shaking your head. My kids certainly used to poke fun of me. They were flabbergasted I had all the choices in the world and, to their way of thinking, I wasted my opportunity. I went left when they thought that I should have gone right. In short, they thought I was out of my mind.
While both lack the mind-blowing sugar that a piece of chocolate might have, I was drawn to the mints and hard candy for other reasons. Most important, they reminded me of family.
I never got the chance to know my grandmothers on either my father’s or mother’s side of the family all that well. I have a few memories, but what I do I remember is crystal clear. I remember the candy they kept in little porcelain dishes on their coffee table or elsewhere in their house whenever we visited.
My dad’s mom kept the pink wintergreen candies. They weren’t as sweet as a Hershey’s chocolate bar, but I loved to grab a few and listen to my dad and my grandmother talk.
Likewise, my mom’s mom, a little old Amish grandmother, kept the golden-yellow butterscotch candies hidden in her kitchen. You had to know where to look for them. She joked with me one time that she hid them to keep my grandfather from snacking on them all day. She told me that I could have just one, but then she was sure to pass me two or three to put in my pocket.
Like a kid in a candy store
I haven’t made a trip to our favorite candy shop in a long time and I can’t see going anytime soon. I’m working to lose a few pounds. A visit to a candy shop right now is the last place I want to visit.
As I get older though, I think of the candies frequently when I walk down the candy aisle of my local grocery store. I used to race passed the aisle as quickly as I could, but I’ve been taking my time lately. The mints and butterscotch candies remind me of family members lost and present and to enjoy my time with them while it lasts.
So, what’s one little piece of candy? One little piece couldn’t hurt, right?