I was stumped on this post, I really was. I was asked by the awesome people at Swizzels Matlow about my favourite #sweetmemories from childhood. That is, do I have any awesome memories about candy (sweeties) from when I was a young ‘un. I completely reached to the point in my ind that we never ate candy. Then I decided to text my Mom – and she proved me wrong very rapidly. There are quite a few candy stories throughout my childhood – to the point where I don’t know which to choose, so I decided to tell you a few of them (at least – let’s see how far this goes).
Of course, there are different “definitions” of candy – and the first memory that my Mom came up with was that we used to make milk fudge to sell at school. Yes, I made milk fudge from scratch and did so often, until Carnation changed something in their condensed milk and it refused to work anymore. I’ve not tried it anytime recently but I’m getting a bit inspired to do so now that I’m thinking about hos much I enjoyed making it. I used to make fudge in my teens, I’d cut it into small squares and sell them for 25c per square at school. To this day I don’t know if I ever made a profit, but it certainly felt like it! I remember I even attempted to make “heavenly fudge”, a pink fudge that was ridiculously sweet and that did not have very much of a texture. In fact, by the time I reached to school with it, all the fudge had mushed into a big splodge of pink sugar. I couldn’t sell that now, could I?! Instead, one of my best friends took it, popped a hole in the plastic bag and sucked at it all day. I still don’t know how she managed to sleep that night. She ate the entire thing by the time school was over!
My Mom’s next memory (because I have to say she reminded me of most of my sweet memories), was that I loved what Trinidadians call soupies. Soupies are basically huge meringues. We did not make these at home, but at almost every school and church bazaar they were on sale at the cake stand. And I loved them – no matter the colour. Now that I bake, and know the texture of meringues and macarons and what they should be when baked, the soupies were really horrible meringues. I mean, if a baker in Canada or England ever baked a meringue and it came out the way a true soupie came out, they would probably toss it. Or crumble it and make an Eton mess. Honestly, they are just large meringues, but Trinidad has an extremely humid climate. I mean, EXTREMELY humid. It’s only ten degrees north of the equator, and as a small island, there’s a lot of water in the air – possibly as much or more than England, but in a tropical climate. And humidity is the death of a good meringue….So the meringues may come out of the oven with the perfect meringue texture, but by the time they cool in the humid air they are truly the gooey sweets that are called soupies. They literally crumble on the outside and stick your teeth together on the inside. Still, having grown up with those as a treat when I was young, I’d still eat them and enjoy them (I think…perhaps I have to test this theory the next time I’m in Trinidad!).
As for other bought candy, the most exciting thing for us when we were young was traveling. My parents tried to get us travelling quite young, and every year (I think) we went on holiday somewhere, whether it was a quick flight to another Caribbean island, or to *gasp* Florida. We loved Florida. Florida meant great things like all-you-can-eat buffets, beaches, Disney and American candy. Yep, the same American candy that you now have to go to specialty shops to buy. They used to be readily available at every entrance to every mall or every grocery store even! I remember walking into malls in Florida and seeking out the candy stand. First thing we went for? Candy corn. The orange-yellow triangles were only one of the main targets for my sister and I, however, because we would stock up on a big bag of them, closely followed by metres of candy buttons on paper and loads of powdery pixie stix. You must know what I’m talking about, right? The pure sugar of the colourful dots with paper backing that you had to peel off to consume…..which meant we probably ate almost as much of the paper as we did the candies because they never did come off 100% cleanly. And don’t forget the layer of sugar left on the paper after – you could not throw THAT out now could you? Okay I’m beginning to sound a bit gross…moving on.
What about those gorgeous little paper straws full of powdery candy goodness? Pixie stix were one of my personal favourites! At first I used to suck the candy out of the straw, after all, it’s a straw, right? (Today’s versions are more like long thing packets than straws). The problem with that is that the straws were made of paper – and saliva and paper do not go together well…and the powder would harden and clump when it got wet from the paper, making it quite difficult to get as much as you wanted out of the single straw. So the pouring method was utilized where you poured the powder into your mouth from an all-sensible height just for dramatic-child-scintillatng-effect. This however, ended up i you breathing in half of the powder, which inadvertently led to a pink, purple or blue sneezing fit. Not sure which is better but I do remember ripping the damp straw every once in a while, so the former sucking process seems to have been the one I settled with.
I was also reminded of my love for cotton candy. I’m fascinated by it, and I think that fascination is part because I saw how it was made when I was young. We went “Down the Islands” in Trinidad when I was small, and we stayed at a hotel that, on one day we were there had a kids’ party – which included free cotton candy. So there was the guy over a huge cotton candy machine making cotton candy all day. He must have known my face like the back of his hand by the end of that day. AND I recently saw this Youtube video of cotton candy in China – if THAT was what this gentleman had done, my parents would probably have to pry my fingers away from that hotel….
Anyway, I I think that I am an extremely experiential person, because it’s not the flavour of cotton candy that
is was outstanding to me (I mean – sweet is sweet and sugar is sugar, you know?!), but it is was the way that the seemingly solid yet light candy just melted into sweet nothingness once it hit my tongue that fascinates fascinated me. It’s one of the reason I loved (and still love) prawn crackers – because once they hit your tongue they change texture completely. I also like things like a good soufflé too, now that I’ve become *ahem* sophisticated and grown up. I have such good memories of cotton candy, however, that when I took my nieces Lili and Mimi to a fair, I took them to the candy stand and kept pointing it out. They wanted the huge lollipops though. I will keep working on them to get it right :P.
Speaking about lollipops, they’re a pretty classic candy aren’t they? I remember when I was younger, my Dad’s friend used to have an endless stock of lollipops on him at any time. He would have when he came to visit and even when we went to visit him at his house. Come to think of it, it was probably his partner who kept their lollipop stash alive, but he was the one who gave them to us, so you know, he was one of our favourite Uncles – a lot more favourite than our “knock knock” Uncle who used to rap our heads every time he saw us and laugh (Sorry D if you are reading this, that’s your Dad in case you did not realize!). Lollipops seem to be a childhood favourite for many, however, because not only have Lili and Mimi chosen it as their sweetie/candy of choice, but even some of the fully grown women at work have secretly told me that they have many sweet memories about lollipops and that they still choose them as their favourite.
No, we don’t just sit there at work and dream about sweeties – Swizzels Matlow were nice enough to send me a preview of their Spring Selection tub for 2015 (an what a tub!). Now at work we all pretend to be grown up, but the truth is that we’re all big children – between go-karting competitions, football matches and girls’ lunch hour out, we do like to eat our sweets – candy, chocolate, biscuits and cakes are all part of our lives. And no, we are not in a food related industry at all. We’re an architecture firm. Anyway, I digress. Rachel, who works with me was nice enough to tell me about her sweet memory with lollipops….
“My favourite is a lollipop. We (girls only) would eat the lollipops then unravel the paper sticks and pretend there were secret messages that ‘only girls’ can see’. It used to make the boys really mad cos we wouldn’t share the secrets with them. We were about 7 years old. Yes I can remember all the way back then.“
Rachel even sent me a photo of the lollipops she was talking about – and guess what – there were quite a few of Rachel’s favourite (and weirdly enough, Kojak’s favourite apparently), the Double Lollies Lollipops, in the Swizzels Matlow Spring Selection tub, so I’m glad I could have brought her childhood memories back to the forefront for her with my candy treats!
And of course, ever aware of allergens, I did check and the Spring selection does contain some of the gluten free and dairy free sweets, namely the Parma Violets, Fizzers, Fruity Pops and the ever popular Love Hearts.
Anyway – turning the attention back to me….Another childhood favourite were candy cigarettes, specifically “Popeye” candy cigarettes (yes, as in spinach-eating-healthy Popeye the Sailor man…not sure why the cigarettes were named after him). They used to even have coloured ends to imitate a lit cigarette! Nowdays we’re all more health concious, so they’re now candy “sticks” and the “lit” end have disappeared, but both of my sisters and I (because my younger sister was now old enough to partake of candy goodness with us) spent hours on end pretending we were smoking with these candy cigarettes. In fact, a few years ago I found some at a store in Manitoulin and my sister and I pretended to smoke with them. This time, however, we were not elegant ladies smoking romantically, this time we were tough tattoo artists taking a puff while tattoing a henna dragon on my husband’s shoulder. Yeah. We’re cool like that.
Now that my Mom has prompted me and I got to thinking, candy did indeed play a big part in my life growing up, whether it be pretending to take communion wafers with chinese haw flakes, smacking our lips and laughing with White rabbit sweeties or freaking out because a fruit roll up pulled one of the caps off of a root canaled tooth (seriously, these are all true stories), candy has been a large part of my life all the way until today, and taking a trip down memory lane centered around candy has been so much fun (just in case you haven’t realized!). So much for “kids these days…” comments when it comes to candy, right?
Did you enjoy reading my candy stories? If so, be sure to check out #sweetmemories on Twitter for lots more sweet memories by so many other people. Who knows, perhaps you’ll be encouraged to remember or make #sweetmemories of your own! What was your favourite candy as a child?