Okay so Thursday’s thread got me to thinking about Golden Flake Cheesepuffs…my all-time favorite junk food…from childhood to now.
Cheesepuffs (not curls…puffs) are the greatest food invented by man. They are delicious…not nutritious…and, most importantly…they are the only food that improves in quality and taste the cheaper they are. It’s true. Go purchase an expensive bag of cheesepuffs…then go buy a bag of Golden Flake Cheesepuffs. Nothing beats the finger-coating goodness of a cheap cheesepuff…nothing.
So imgaine how tickled orange I was to find out that my favorite junk food comes from the same place as my favorite soul singer…Birmingham, AL. Nice.
I don’t know how things are for kids today (pretty lame, I’m sure)…but growing up in the 70s and 80s was a blast as far as treats.
Even a trip to Sonic was more fun…as your beverage was adorned with a “cup clinger” (pictured above)…a little plastic animal (monkey, donkey, giraffe, elephant, mouse, camel, bull…mermaid?) that would hang off the side of your cup. Geesh, I miss those days. I think that’s the problem with society today…there are so many missed opportunities for joy by hanging a plastic bull from your fountain drink cup.When I was in the fourth grade, every day after school at Jeff Davis Elementary in Biloxi, I would walk to my dad’s motorcycle shop, Mid-City Cycle, and hang out until Mom got off work and took me to the house.
Dad would always give me some money to go to the Little General (which was kind of a 7-Eleven but the signage featured this dwarf character doing a jig and dressed as Napoleon). The store was behind my dad’s shop, so I’d walk over and buy a beef jerky and a Dr. Pepper. Then I’d sit around listening to Rod Stewart‘s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” on the radio and either “practice” my typing on the old clunker of a typewriter in the office or sit on a tall stool covered with a shop rag next to Dad’s mechanic’s bench and visit with him while he worked on some massive bike.
When I was done with the treat, I’d keep busy cleaning the display cases, sweeping the showroom floor, or putting together parts boxes for the stock area of the repair shop…thinking I was really helping my dad. To this day…I can’t eat jerky and drink D.P. without being transported back to 1979…spending that time with my dad…who was then and is now the coolest dad to ever walk the planet. It’s one of the best memories I have from being a kid.
But as nostalgic as I get from jerky and D.P….there’s nothing like the candy from when you were a kid. (You know what’s funny? I don’t remember ever choosing chocolate candies as a kid. I would always go for the sweet…lightly tart treats. Honestly, do kids buy chocolate now? I think chocolate is pretty much the candy for adults.)
Anyway, I can think of about six treats that always were my top picks at the Little General. Since the store was within walking distance of our house, my brother, Beau, and I would often fill our pockets with whatever change we could find and head to the L.G.
I loved Pixy Stix…the death powder candy that no one dare eat while inhaling. The best was getting those ginormous stix. When you’re in fourth grade…a giant Pixy Stix is practically as tall as you are…so…SCORE!
As everyone knows…when eating Pop Rocks…you mustn’t…under any circumstance…drink a Coke…because…IT WILL KILL YOU LIKE IT KILLED MIKEY!
Astro Pops aren’t as lethal…but caution was to be used at all times when eating these sticky sweets. Taking even the tiniest bite into the sap-like lollipop could literally pull your teeth out of your gums, so you had to actually suck or lick this thing until it was gone…which took forever. I think I bought a total of three Astro Pops in my lifetime…and the collective time it took me to eat them equaled nearly five months. Plus…I was always leery of that crazy wax base at the bottom of the Astro Pop and could never master removing the NASA-engineered cellophane wrapped around the treat.
If I was in the mood to eat a sweet treat that would scrape my tongue raw…I usually opted for the ever popular Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip, which featured three pouches of flavored powder in which to dip the enclosed candy stick. This was always a popular choice at the movies…as it lasted a long time and struck a delicate balance with your soft drink of choice.
Now, I was never a huge fan of gum…but when I did decide to do some chewing…I would opt for the Tiny Size packet of Chiclets. They always seemed like such a great idea in the beginning…tossing back a few tiny Chiclets throughout the day…savoring the entire pack over time…and periodically checking your inventory by looking through the little window on the front of the bag. But more often than not…20 minutes later…I had dumped the entire pack in my mouth…chewed the pieces until their taste and crunchy coatings were gone…and spit the messy wad into the trash.
My other gum of choice was Fruit Stripe Gum (street name: Zebra Gum). Featuring Yipes the Zebra on the label…this gum was notorious for its unusually delicious yet suspiciously short-lived flavor. I think my average chew time was about 5 minutes before the flavor stripes faded and I had to shove another piece in my mouth. You rarely shared this gum with your friends…as it took chewing the whole pack…adding stick upon stick to the growing blob in your mouth…to equal the chew time of a normal stick of gum.
But of all my favorite candies from childhood…there is one that I’ll hunt for and buy today…even over chocolate: Ferrara Pan Jaw Busters! Nothing has or will ever come close to matching the awesomeness of these little candies. A box (which still costs less than a dollar) can last a couple of days…or a couple of hours…depending on your tenacity. The candy is sweet but not overly so. Plus, when you get finished with the treats…the box can be used as a sort of a “duck call” whistle.
Viva le Jaw Busters!