The girl on the Mary Jane wrapper looks totally baked, and is that a short skirt she’s wearing or a rubber flotation device?
Who can forget the thrills of trick-or-treating? Schlepping from door to door with the largest bag you could find in the kitchen, scoring treats from shopkeepers if you were a city kid, hitting up the neighbors if you grew up in the ‘burbs. The more committed would trick-or-treat for hours, sometimes leaving bags of candy at pre-arranged stash points if the sugary loot was abundant enough.
We were connoisseurs of Halloween candy in those days, and our favorite brands were seared into our culinary sensibilities. Herewith our 10 favorite Halloween candies.
Candy lips have retained the same bubble-gummy flavor for millennia, and remind us that houses were once lit with wax candles.
10. Brach’s Caramels — Nowadays, we wish we had a Liddabit sea-salt caramel, but as kids we loved chewy, mild Brach’s caramels, especially since you’d often get a handful at a single house. What to do with the dark caramels? Give ’em to your little brother.
9. Wax Lips — If candies like Mary Janes and Brach’s Caramels seemed old-fashioned to us, the wax lips we sometimes got were downright prehistoric. Since when is wax candy? But the real beauty of wax lips, we realized, lay in them becoming a temporary but hilarious part of your costume — before you decided to chew them unrecognizable, that is.
8. Bonomo’s Turkish Taffy — Put it in the freezer for 15 minutes, and you can slap it onto any hard surface and watch it break into dozens of delectable shards. Leave it out in warm weather, and find yourself pulling on the stretchy candy till your teeth were almost pulled out. And, O! the lowbrow appeal of artificial flavors like strawberry and banana.
7. Mary Janes — Mary Jane was one of the sisters in Little Women, right? Or was she a character in Little House on the Prairie? No matter, the peanut candy — which was chewy like taffy — was created in 1914, and hasn’t changed much since then. Only later did we discover that “Mary Jane” is slang for marijuana.
Was this candy really Turkish? We wondered.
The candy buttons were a technological wonder when first invented.
6. Candy Buttons — At first the girls tried to keep this primitive form of candy to themselves, along with candy necklaces and bracelets. But gradually the boys discovered how much fun it was to rake your teeth along the paper, prying off dots into your open maw and then chewing them up. The invention of candy buttons was the result of innovations in candy-making machinery in the early 20th century.
5. “Fun Size” Candy Bars — Some may yearn for full-size candy bars, and search for them among the houses in the better-off parts of the neighborhood; my siblings and I preferred the smaller ones, because you’d often got several per house, and sometimes you were given a choice, too. When we got home, we poured all our candy on the floor, and staged a candy exchange, complete with bidding. The “fun size” candy bar was sometimes a highly prized entity, especially if it was a Kit Kat or a Krackle.
4. Tootsie Rolls — We’d debate the subject for hours: Were Tootsie Rolls really made of some sort of mutated chocolate? Whether they were or not, we loved them, and actually preferred the small size we got at Halloween to the turd-like, large-bore version, mainly because the smaller ones were so much easier to eat.
3. Candy Corn — Even before we studied chemistry in college, we knew that candy corn was probably the best use you could put corn syrup to. As the years passed, we came to enjoy the myriad shapes the candy corn came to assume, including pumpkins, ghosts, and candy-corn kernels with a brown top instead of a yellow one.
2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups — No one could have predicted that something resembling plain peanut butter, when coated with smeary cheap chocolate and deposited in a crinkled paper cup that made it look like a squat cupcake, could taste so good. And the orange wrapper says “Halloween.”
This entire pile of candy corn could be yours for very little money.
Puff, puff. Crunch, crunch.
1. Candy Cigarettes — How often does a candy make you feel sophisticated? While many of us snuck furtive puffs on real cigarettes in early adolescence, at the same time we were still strutting and puffing on candy cigarettes in public — and the flavor we later identified as wintergreen seemed sophisticated, too.