What Ever Happened To…Penny Candy?

Why is it that as we grow older, the more we wax nostalgic for our childhoods? Could it be because the older we get, the more we appreciate the innocence of our youth? Maybe it’s because we become more aware of our own mortality.

I don’t know why for sure, but when I reminisce about my childhood, certain things creep into my memory. And they always make me feel comforted and yet sad. I’m comforted in the thought that it brings me back to a simpler time, yet sad because the feelings these memories represent. I know that I’ll never get to experience these times again.

And one of those memories is that of the neighborhood five and dime, Ben Franklin.

This looks much like my childhood Ben Franklin, though it's probably been turned into a parking garage.
This looks much like my childhood Ben Franklin, though it’s probably been turned into a parking garage.

As a small child in the late 60’s and early 70’s, I used to walk the few blocks from my house, my small hand clutching as many pennies as it could hold, to the Ben Franklin. There, I would push the glass door with all the strength my small frame could muster. Once I made my way inside, I would move as quickly as my little legs would take me to that magical aisle. That one aisle that made my eyes open wide and filled my heart with joy.

Yes, the penny candy aisle.

Ahhh buckets and buckets of candy!!!!
Ahhh buckets and buckets of candy!!!!

With only my small fistful of pennies, I could pick out a bucket of candy. All kinds of candy.

There were containers of Tootsie Rolls, Bazooka Bubble Gum, Sixlets.

Still the best tasting bubble gum out there...
Still the best tasting bubble gum out there…

There were Dum Dum’s, Swedish Fish, Candy Necklaces.

I always wound up with a mixture of food coloring, sugar and spit on my neck...kinda gross, eh?
I always wound up with a mixture of food coloring, sugar and spit on my neck…kinda gross, eh?

Red Licorice Whips, Wax Lips, Kits Taffy.

Nik L Nips, Candy Cigarettes, Pixie Stix.

BBBats Taffy, Candy Dots, Satellite Wafers

You can still find many of these in small Old Fashioned Candy Stores. Cracker Barrel even has some. But it will never be the same.

For one, nothing will ever be sold for a penny again. Now it’s more like 3 for $1.00.

Nor will our children be allowed to walk the few blocks from home to the local Five and Dime. Our neighborhoods are no longer safe, and the Walton’s have decimated small businesses everywhere. Instead of walking to the park, playing ball or cops and robbers, children will be on their IPhones and Xboxes. Instead of heading down the block, they get their parents to take them to Walmart or order from Amazon.

We need to go back to this.
We need to go back to this.

I’m lucky. I grew up with penny candy. And all the memories associated with it.

And whenever I start feeling things around me are moving too fast, I lay down on the couch and close my eyes. There I methodically pick candy dots off their paper backing, and pop them in my mouth. And I go back to a simpler time. When penny candy ruled, and Facebook didn’t exist.     k