While recently wallowing in nostalgic thoughts about Cracker Jack I began Googling other types of candy of which I had fond memories as a kid.
That was a bad idea because I found exactly what I was looking for and am in line to gain several pounds when my box-o-heaven arrives this week.
This itch has needed a scratch since my friend Jim Steinmyer took me to Galco’s in Los Angeles a few months ago. The place looks like it was an old supermarket at one time, but now it houses aisle upon aisle of soft drinks (including a mix-your-own soda bar with lots of syrups — I made a toasted coconut marshmallow creme soda and it was fabulouso, and even better: you’re making it in glass bottles).
Most of its business is in a million different types of soda, but off on the left side wall is an enormous amount of retro candy with lots of stuff I hadn’t seen for many decades.
Galco’s has a website but it’s primitive and online ordering isn’t quite organized yet — you’ll get a much better idea of the place from the reviews on Yelp, which wax rhapsodic at length about the wonders to be found in the aisles.
From the Galco web site:
Devoted to the art of soda pop and supporting the small businesses behind each bubbly drink, Galco’s Soda Pop Stop features more than 700 flavors of soda at its Los Angeles storefront. Beginning in 1897 as an Italian grocery store, Galco’s changed “flavors” when son John F. Nese took helm of his father’s store in 1995 and lined the shelves with classic, small-batch, exotic and hard-to-find sodas. With a mission to support small soda makers, Galco’s motto is “Freedom of Choice” which mirrors Nese’s determination that customers have the right to choose from more than just a handful of mass-produced, big-business selections.
I tried a soda whose name has intrigued me for years: Moxie, the first carbonated bottled beverage in the U.S circa 1887. I had seen the name many times in old newspaper articles and books and assumed that it had gone the way of the dodo. But, there it was on the shelf at Galco’s, and I’m here to tell you that it tastes like bitter crap. If you want to make someone gag, this will do it.
Moxie has a very fine website which gives a full history of the drink’s triumphs and travails … who knew? Back in the 1920s, of every feisty kid it was said, “He’s got moxie!” The soda was so popular it entered pop vocab. But it tastes like hell … can’t figure that out. You can read more about the taste of Moxie (the reaction of one drinker was “Blech”!) on this very funny blog where it is deemed to be “a flavor for the few.”
Sorry: got sidetracked. What I really want to write about is CANDY.
CANDY CANDY CANDY.
At the age of 7 I began getting an allowance: 25 cents a week, always given on Friday evening. On Saturday morning I was up with the birdies watching TV, and by about noon (after my weekly dose of Davey and Goliath, Colonel Bleep, Space Ghost, Underdog, Atom Ant, The Flintstones, the Beatles, and Frankenstein, Jr. … and if I got really lucky, Milton the Monster).
I put my clothes on and (by myself, mind you) went off to the local candy store on Queens Boulevard to spend that coin burning a hole in my pocket. Unless you’re well on your way to geezerdom like me, you’ll find it hard to believe that for 25 cents you could buy a comic book (12 cents), a candy bar (5 cents), and a small toy of some sort with the remaining 8 cents. As my allowance increased in coming years, Famous Monsters of Filmland and Monster Times were added to my Saturday haul of goodies.
Aside: when I went to elementary school, they let us out for lunch. Yeah, really hard to believe, I know. So off we ran to the pizzeria about a block away. I got a quarter every day for lunch and it broke down exactly this way — 2 slices of pizza at 10 cents each, and a large grape drink for a nickel. I remember the unusual taste of the oregano on this particular joint’s pizza to this day.
Okay: Nickle Nips, Zero Bars, Clark Bars, Lemonheads, Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy (only chocolate), candy buttons and necklaces, Twizzlers (only grape or chocolate), Chocolate Babies, Gold Rush bubble gum, MALLO CUPS, Regal Crown Sour hard candies, Scooter Pies (made by Burrys), Skybar, Razzles, and right into the zing of a happy Saturday afternoon sugar coma.
It seems, in the end, that I have not written much about retro candy. It’s all too overwhelming to think about, and I have ordered about a hundred bucks worth of stuff from oldtimecandy.com, which should be your destination. The prices are good and they have an enormous selection.
Pigging out and signing off. Chomp.