There’s nothing “sweeter” than memories of our favorite childhood candies. When I was a kid in need of a “sweet fix,” there was Pop’s, a small neighborhood grocery with a large assortment of sugary treats.
Pop, who had no other name, as far as I knew, was a grumpy, old German fellow with an ample mustache and shirt sleeves held in place with elastic bands. He and his family lived above the store, so the hours were flexible.
I remember Pop’s creaky screen door with the tightly set spring. If you didn’t jump inside quick enough, the screen door would slap you across the backside and plumb across the doorway.
Where to Land?
Once inside the store, I was like a fly in a candy shop. Everything was so sweet, it was hard to know where to land. In addition to a vast assortment of colorful, hard candy, there were Sugar Lips, Wax Bottles, Necco Wafers, Licorice Sticks, Gumballs, Jawbreakers, even Bubble Gum Cigarettes and Cigars.
A Penny’s Worth
With my few pennies firmly in hand, I would press one finger against the glass case and say slowly and repeatedly, “I want a penny’s worth of that one . . . and a penny’s worth of those . . . and a penny’s worth of . . . ” until I had spent an entire nickel on candy.
Pop would reach his huge, fleshy hand into the show case and grab some candy and drop it into a small sack. If you wanted a piece from a large slab of chocolate, he’d whack it with a small hammer and add a few of the broken chunks to the bag.
He didn’t use a scale. How he determined a “penny’s worth” was unclear, but it was enough for two or more kids to ruin their appetites for dinner.
When the small store got over-crowded or kids became too rowdy, he’d waggle his fingers toward us and bellow, “Shoo, shoo, you shoo now.” We thought that was incredibly funny and did our best to agitate him. Pop didn’t have to worry about our repeat business. He knew we were hooked.
During the COVID lockdown, it’s easy to comfort ourselves with sweet treats. If that continues, I fear I’ll emerge from my pandemic pod looking 5 years older and 10 pounds heavier. So I’ve clamped down on snacks. A handful of almonds are nearly as satisfying a a sweet snack. Or so I’m telling myself.