Candy Land

While waiting to have a prescription filled the other day, my husband and I were perusing the candy section at Walgreen’s, which is approximately 1/3 of the store. It’s hard NOT to find something you like… or remember. They had a whole bunch of “candy” that we didn’t know they made anymore.

Dave asked which was worse, candy buttons or Necco wafers.


I said candy buttons, hands down, despite the fact that they’re probably the exact same thing just delivered in a different format. That said, as a child, I ate my share of candy buttons. And paper backing. Fiber! But we did agree that candy cigarettes, probably also the same confection, were the worst. Taste bad and bad taste. (Of course we say that now, as adults.)

Seeing the candy buttons and wax bottles filled with “pop” reminded me of the neighborhood store I grew up with. I think it was called The Cheese Basket, but we always just called it “the store”.


Even I’m too young for penny candy, but the store did have nickel candy (and eventually dime candy, then quarter…). But in the day, you could get a pack of Now and Laters for five cents. Remember those? I loved those. All my friends did. We’d buy the different flavors and swap. So sweet, so sour, so juicy! Now I imagine they’d suck the caps right off my teeth. Tho thtupid.

Ew, I'd never buy (or trade for) banana!

Ew, I’d never buy (or trade for) banana!

The store also had other amenities. You could pick up a loaf of bread, margarine or milk. Buns, a can of soup, or spaghetti noodles. You wouldn’t want to do your weekly shopping there, they were no bargain, but for emergencies the store was quite convenient.

I remember riding my bike the three blocks to pick up cigarettes for my parents. Sixty-five cents a pack, here’s a dollar, get yourself some candy. Okay!

The store sold those Jiffy cake mixes and boxes of frosting. You had to buy two to make a whole cake, but that’s okay, it was like two for a quarter. I remember planning an epic birthday surprise for my stepmom. She loved Junior Mints so I stirred a box into the cake batter believing they’d provide chocolaty bursts of minty deliciousness with each bite. It didn’t work. They all settled to the bottom of the pan in one giant hard clump. She was a good sport about it, ate around the solid mint turd, but I have never truly forgiven Junior Mints.

The store was located between an elementary school and the junior high, so it was always busy with minors, and probably responsible for half the cavities in the neighborhood. But who thinks like that when you’re a kid? We just wanted our Jolly Ranchers and Marathon bars, our Charleston Chews and Tart n Tinys. Our Razzles and Fruit Stripe gum. And for a nickel, we got ‘em.

The retro candy at Walgreen’s is not even close to five cents… maybe if you break it down per button, but it’s kind of fun that it’s back. How weird would it be to introduce my grandson to the candy I enjoyed as a kid?

FYI, we selected a bag of Werther’s caramels for our candy dish. After all, we are Grandparents now.


About Mary Fran Says

I am an artist, crafter, designer and writer. I enjoy working with mixed media-- applying visual and tactile manipulations to telling a story. Not a lot of market for that, though, :), so I'm focusing on short story submissions and novel completions. Yes, plural. Lots of beginnings, too many ideas, not enough focus.
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3 Responses to Candy Land

  1. Rosemary Gustafson says:

    Enjoyed the story. And I do remember penny candy. root beer barrels… Aah

  2. I would give my right arm for a Marathon bar. OMG those were so good. And mixing the junior mints into a cake…solid mint turd…hysterical.

  3. Lorna Code says:

    I noticed the same sort of selection at Five Below when the grands were visiting. And I’m NOT too old for penny candy. our store was called Lefty’s because it was owned by Lefty Blake. He wouldn’t sell me cigarettes though even though I told him they were for my older brother who had just gotten home from Vietnam. Lefty almost caved but then I made the mistake of telling him my vet brother Steve smoked Virginia Slims. I guess he wasn’t so easy to pull one over on. Loved this blog, Mary. It took me back.

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