Gimme Some Sugar: Candy from Our Childhood

Whenever I smell a cold rectangular pizza or tater tots defrosting in an oven, I’m immediately thrown back to third grade. In those days, Kindles and iPhones were not necessary to keep kids entertained; a mere bubble gum cigarette or Abba-Zaba was all we ever needed. As an eight-year-old, I got more excited about those treats than I ever could have about some new app.
Bubble Gum Cigarettes
Jawbreakers
Dip N’ Lik
Abba-Zaba
Big League Chew
Whatchamacallit
Candy Buttons
Ring Pops
Pixy Stix
Bubble Tape
Lemonheads
Pez
Nerds
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Bubble Gum Cigarettes

I remember hiding under the bridge, blowing on these babies, and feeling very “Greased Lightning” at the tender age of ten—so wrong, yet so right.

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Jawbreakers

I once had a jawbreaker the size of my fist. I used to wrap it in a lunch baggie and put it on my bedside table every night. I’d wake up the next morning and keep sucking. Gross.

Dip N’ Lik

Now called Fun Dip and once called Lik-m-Aid, this colored sugar–filled pouch was one of the most popular kids’ treats—but in the good old days we used our fingers, not the enclosed candy stick, to get our licks.

Abba-Zaba

Thurgood Jenkins, Dave Chappelle’s character in Half Baked, made sales of Abba-Zaba skyrocket with these six little words: “Abba-Zaba, you my only friend,” as he bit into his lonely candy bar.

Big League Chew

According to Wrigley.com, “While sitting in a bullpen one night, pitcher Rob Nelson and former N.Y. Yankee all-star Jim Bouton came up with the idea for something different and fun to chew—shredded bubble gum in a pouch.” The rest is history.

Whatchamacallit

“Chewity, chocolatey, crunchity flavor. Whatchamacallit ahh … ahh …” Am I the only one who still manages to get this jingle stuck in her head fifteen years later?

Candy Buttons

These sugary dots were perfect for a game of Doctor. We used to use toilet paper to wrap up wounds and stuff patients’ faces with these “pills.”

Ring Pops

True, the first few licks of a ring pop do leave you feeling like royalty with a big gem on your finger. But after lick ten, your hands up covered in sugary drool and you feel a bit more like a bum.

Pixy Stix

Originally a drink mix made in the 1930s, Pixy Stix are a powdered candy packaged to resemble drinking straws. The sugar inside can be enjoyed straight from the package while being poured into the lucky recipient’s mouth. (And parents wondered why their children were so hyper?)

Bubble Tape

Why buy gum in a pack when you can have it in a six-foot-long strand? I distinctly recall having competitions to see who could fit the longest strand into her mouth at one time. I generally lost.

Lemonheads

Sisters to Appleheads, Orangeheads, Grapeheads, and Cherryheads, Lemonheads are deliciously sour, then sweet. They claim to be fat free and made with real lemon juice. It’s good to know at least some children were eating healthy back in the 1980s.

Pez

I never understood the fascination with Pez—they taste like medicine. Sure, the containers are pretty kick-butt, but that’s where it all ends, as far as I’m concerned. By the way, the Museum of Pez Memorabilia is two miles from my house in Burlingame, California. Jealous?

Nerds

Nerds are small, irregularly shaped sweets that come in a variety of flavors and are usually sold in a box containing two separate compartments for two different varieties, each with a separate opening. Nerds—not just for nerds.

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