Wednesday, September 30, 2015

SWEET MEMORIES





While I was in the process of Googling vintage Halloween stuff (a pathetic example of how I waste my time) I happened to come across this ancient ad for Wowe-e. It immediately ignited a burst of childhood memories.

Candy and childhood are synonymous and the Wowe-e wax harmonica whistle was one of my all-time favorites. Actually, it wasn't candy at all. It was made of sweet wax that could be chewed like gum. Most kids, however, liked the whistle so much that they didn't want to ruin it by chewing the wax. The Wowe-e whistles were 5 cents - which was a little out of my price-range - but I did manage to buy a few during my recklessly indulgent wonder years.

The wax whistles were patented in the 1920's and made by Glenn Confections. The above ad is from 1948, which was before my time. I remember them from the 1960's.

The original Wowe-e whistles are no longer made, but I think reasonable facsimiles are available. When I was a kid, it wasn't Halloween without them. I still remember the distinct fluted sound of the whistle.

 These are the exact whistles that I remember
with the same Halloween labels

I was crazy about the wax novelties that always appeared at the beginning of the Halloween season. Big red wax lips, black mustaches, vampire teeth, and wax fingers. I seldom chewed the wax, but rather preferred to keep my treasures preserved in a small box in the refrigerator. Naturally, my father would inevitably throw them out. 



The height of my childhood candy career came between the ages of 8 and 11, when we lived in Pomona, California. There were two stores where we kids would always buy candy - Ted's Liquor Store and Roy's Liquor Store. Both were located on Fifth Street, the street on which I lived (Fifth Street has since been renamed Mission Boulevard).

Ted's was a small store. We went there very often solely because it was conveniently located on our way to school. Unfortunately, Ted was the meanest son-of-a-bitch in Pomona. An incredibly grouchy old man who hated children (it's bitterly ironic that I can fully relate to his feelings now).

He would grumble under his breath as we dug out our pennies to purchase candy. He also always checked our pockets and lunch boxes to make sure we weren't stealing.
When I was a child, I was so impeccably innocent and unbearably honest, that the thought of stealing never even entered my mind.



Roy's Liquor Store was twice as big as Ted's and much more child-friendly, but we only went there on weekends because it was much farther down the street. Roy's had an enormous selection of candy. And comic books.

Is it only the sweet nostalgia of my memory, or was the quality and taste of candy really better back then?

There were so many varieties of candy favorites that my faulty memory can't contain them all.





Bit-O-Honey and Good & Plenty, Sugar Daddies and Black Cows, thin Necco Wafers and jellied Chuckles. Turkish Taffy in chocolate, banana, and strawberry. Impossibly hard Jujubes. Root Beer Barrels. Hot Tamales. LifeSavers. Tootsie Rolls. Abba-Zaba. Pay Day and Clark Bars. Chunkies. Giant jawbreakers that had different layers of colors.






Black Jack chewing gum, Chiclets, Dubble Bubble and Bazooka Bubble Gum. Not to mention candy cigarettes and cinnamon-flavored toothpicks. And bubble gum cards.

I remember when a little Mexican girl in our class accidentally swallowed a cinnamon toothpick and had to be rushed to the hospital. Our teacher Mrs. Butler immediately gave us a harrowing lecture about the dangers of cinnamon toothpicks.

Returning to the wax theme, I used to like those little cartons of tiny wax bottles that contained colored sugar liquid. They are still being manufactured under various names and variations.

The present infuriating restrictiveness of political correctness has inspired the ban of the once-popular wax six-shooters. They were pistol-shaped and (like the little wax bottles) were filled with a sweet colored liquid that you could drink.




I also recall the now obsolete and politically incorrect Nigger Babies. The startling name inspired me to do some research, but information is vague and very conflicting. They are mentioned in a 1945 issue of Confectionery & Ice Cream World, vol. 33, page 34.

Many people remember this candy but even the description varies. The original candy was supposedly made of licorice, but later the little baby-shaped candies were made of a caramel chocolate. I distinctly remember the chocolate-type ones.

My guess is that different candy companies manufactured similar black "baby" candies under various names at  different times - including Chocolate Babies and Tar Babies.



In the innocent age of my childhood the name wasn't considered offensive and we kids never thought of it as being racist. I actually thought the little babies were cute. Things are entirely different in the present era of intense racial awareness and extreme hypersensitivity. At any rate, the candy was never particularly popular.

While I'm on a roll, who could forget Pez? Let's face it, Pez candy was absolute crap but those dispensers were immensely appealing. They are still being manufactured and the old ones are collectibles.




Childhood trends come and go, but the intrigue of candy will always remain....


.......until, of course, the Government-appointed deputies of the Candy Control Commission will raid our homes and ban sweets forever.....

Jon, your inexhaustible sarcasm never fails to amaze us. 





 My photo blog:
http://cabinetofcurioustreasures.blogspot.com 

25 comments:

  1. Great walk down memory lane! I remember candy cigarettes and liked them. Never had a Wowe-e until I was 4 or 5 and it scared me but, you're right, they're harder to come by now. My favorite treat was and still is chocolate chips sneaked out of the fridge. Delightful post!

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    1. Many thanks, Geo. This was better than visiting the Broad Museum, wasn't it? (a *smile* is inserted here).
      I always savor walks down memory lane. And I love to snack on chocolate chips from the refrigerator (unfortunately I haven't had any lately).

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    2. I suggest we leave the Broad Museum to Harry and concentrate on chocolate chips in the fridge. But remember, you have to sneak them --use a flashlight. I do!

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  2. never liked the wax crap, necco wafers, pez, or jujubes. now turkish taffy! and good & plenty! and sugar daddies (the candy kind, not the human kind)! some of my faves.

    and my maternal grandmother ALWAYS kept boxes of chiclets in the dining room breakfront.

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    1. Personally, I'll take any kind of sugar daddy I can get (*smile*).

      What is it with grandmothers and Chiclets?? My grandmother always had Chiclets in her purse.

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    2. grandmother carried canada mints in her purse, both pink and white!

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    3. That's better than Chiclets.

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  3. There were two small wooden-floored general stores down the street from my grandmother's house, and both of them had a huge array of penny candies behind their glass counters. The store owners were very patient with us kids, too, and never rushed us when we made our oh-so-important decisions as to which candies he should place into our mini brown paper bags. I remember the licorice babies. They were really good. Soft and chewy, with a little bit of sugar on the outside.

    As for the comic books, one of those stores sold new ones for a nickel, and used ones, two for a nickel. Needless to say, I had a LOT of comics. The some store that sold the comics also sold the best marshmallow doughnuts I've ever eaten.

    Good memories. Thanks for the reminders.

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    1. Susan, I appreciate all the comments you left on my recent posts. For some strange reason, they are always delayed by Comment Moderator until I read & published them (this only happens with a few of my readers). You were fortunate to be able to buy used comic books as a kid. I always had to pay full price - usually 10 cents.

      I've never heard of marshmallow doughnuts - they sound yummy!

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    2. Since I only post once a week now, I tend to binge read and comment on your posts on Fridays, rather than when you publish them.

      Marshmallow doughnuts are filled, like cream and jelly. Most I've eaten have a fake taste to the filling, but the ones from that store were made with real ooey gooey marshmallow... and lots of it.

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  4. A fantastic post Jon! Ah candy, something I never eat now but was my main food source when I was a kid. Candy, candy, candy. Most of the pictures you posted brought back warm, familiar memories. And 1948 WAS NOT before MY time. Ah yes, being born in 1941. I too couldn't afford much but back then candy literally cost pennies. When I got a paper route (I really should write a blog about this subject because this is turning out to be a long comment) I spent almost most of the money I earned on candy and comic books and if I had any left over (I rarely made more than $5.00 a week), I spent on processing a black and white roll of 8 negatives. Some of the candy you left out were the candy cigarettes (definitely not politically correct now), Zero bars (my favorite) and Chunky bars (second favorite). And oh, there was Good and Plenty (which I ate at the movies) and Goobers peanuts. I better stop now because I could go on and on. A great post Jon!

    Ron

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    1. It's surprising how many good memories candy evokes. You'll definitely have to write a post about it.
      I did mention candy cigarettes (somewhere along with the gum). I also remember toy cigarettes that had fake powder smoke in them and orange aluminum tips. Weird but true!

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    2. when ya go to the movies, it's raisinettes for me! the theater can keep their shitty popcorn!

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    4. I have 6 Zero bars
      I recently ordered from
      oldtimecandy.com
      along with a box of Skybars
      for my Mom
      and 6 Curly Wurly bars
      for my John
      they are like Marathon bars
      which are discontinued

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    5. I forgot all about Marathon bars. I love Skybars! I read that they've been around since 1938.

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  5. I will never stray from candy corn. Pure delight to eat.

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    1. I was never a huge fan of candy corn - - and yet they are irresistible to eat. They seem to be addictive.

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    2. candy corn + salted peanuts = Payday

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  6. I'd totally forgotten those wax whistles! Unfortunately, they never lasted long before I'd begin gnawing. My fav was the giant ruby lips; and yes, those miniature wax bottles ... all short-lived. Candy was never a big attraction growing up, but your mention of the Bit-o-Honey bar makes me smile.

    Oh(!), and I'd still cross the street for an original pack of Bazooka. :)

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    1. For some odd reason, I was always fascinated with the wax stuff. Whatever happened to Bit-O-Honey? I never see it anymore.

      Bazooka bubbles were definitely the best.

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  7. Lots of memories in this nice post Jon. Did you have a box of comic books under your bed and trade other kids one for one?

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    1. Heck, I was too greedy to part with my comics.

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  8. Edible wax? That;s something that never crossed the pond to Europe, I am having a hard time even imagining it. But I do remember PEZ candies. They had them in Germany where I spent quite a bit of my childhood and we used to collect the holders. Pity I didn't keep any. I liked the yellow ones best. I don't know if they REALLY tasted very different from the others!

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    1. Chewable wax. I never particularly liked PEZ but I did like the dispensers, and I still have a few of them somewhere.
      I think PEZ offers a lot more flavors than they did when I was a child.

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