I am too old to like candy as a reward or a treat, but occasionally I still eat a piece. In the old General Stores, (almost extinct now) there were large barrels of different types of individually wrapped pieces of candy. I am too young to remember General Stores, but when I was very young the equivalent to a General Store was Woolworths. There were not specific items on specified aisles. All the goods in the store were piled haphazardly around. My mother would take us downtown to Woolworths to go through their bolts of cloth to find material for her next sewing project. The toys in the store were wonders that could not be found at Sears or JC Penny’s and the only thing missing was the barrel full of candy.
When I became a teenager, most of the Woolworths had retired and were no longer open for business. I started to worry about things. “Did my blue jeans have the right name sewn on the pocket like everyone else?” and “Was I seen in the Mall at the stores my schoolmates liked?” I started to conform my idea of shopping to the ideas of my peers so that I could have the correct status in a difficult world of children trying to find where we fit in. However, I never quite forgot that my ideas needed to remain my own.
There was a smoke shop downtown throughout my teenage years that sold tobacco, cigarettes, and pedaled a huge candy counter for the children (although there was no Woolworths). My younger brother and I saved our paper route money and walked downtown to pick out candies that you could not find anywhere in the grocery stores. Names like Zotz, Sugar Daddies, Nerds and jawbreakers and pop rocks were only available at the smoke shop. Underage children were allowed in the store, but only for purchases of candy. We were good children and we did not hang out to try for young adults that would “help” us to other items in the smoke shop that we could not buy yet.
I remember that I grew up in a world different from our world today. When I want a piece of candy, I wonder where all of the choices that I had as a child have gone. I never want a whole bag of Tootsie Rolls or butterscotches. We do not sell candy by the piece anymore. Perhaps this is the lesson I was learning as a teenager: we choose our favorites, but we commit to more than just one choice for one short mouthful of sugar. Maybe one day we will not be so afraid of the individually wrapped pieces and we will return to more choices. For now, I only eat candy when I have a special occasion to buy more than I need. Children like candy. I have grown up and candy is optional, but I will not give up on my favorites when my sweet tooth calls.