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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Candy Store

By Lyn Burnstine


Across the street from my first elementary school was a penny candy store run by an elderly gent. He brooked no nonsense but if you were well-behaved, he was kind. He probably wasn’t all that old, either; from the perspective of a five-to-eight-year-old, he was.

I’m sure I didn’t go all that often because the spare pennies were few and far between in those post-Great Depression years. That fact became evident to me in the summers when my mother, my sister and I escaped the stifling heat of a walk-up Main Street apartment, also my father’s photographic studio, by living at my grandmother’s farm.

There, we three shared one daily chocolate bar and one twelve-ounce Pepsi between us. (I’ll always wonder why my grandmother wasn’t part of that deal.) I thought the rationing was for health reasons and was surprised to learn that my parents simply couldn’t afford for us to each have an entire bar and drink. Thirty cents was a lot of money in those days. They may well have fed us on little more than that, since everything was home-grown.

It was explained to me that even two nickels for a daily ice cream cone for my sister and me, when we were in town, was too much - once a week was all we could expect. Not that we were deprived of sweets; we could have homemade ice cream till it came out of our ears on summer Sunday afternoons with the special treat of licking the churn paddle.

What few pennies came my way were saved to shop the five-and-dime store for Christmas presents for family members and an occasional treat for myself. Interestingly enough, I never felt poor or knew we were until I was much older.

So during the school season, when I had a few cents to spend, rarely, it made for an agonizing decision: should I choose a Milky Way, candy cigarettes, ropes of licorice, Butterfingers, Snickers, root beer or cinnamon candy canes, wax lips, little syrup-filled wax bottles or my all-time favorite – then and still today: Mallo Cups?

Oh, the deliciousness! The creamy chocolate cup as big as your hand filled with rich, smooth marshmallow cream filling. Teeny, tiny bits of coconut embedded in the chocolate was just enough to give resistance to your teeth and slow down the melting process a bit, thereby prolonging the pleasure.

They are still around and still delicious. They even make a peanut butter cup that surpasses Reese’s in creaminess and – be still my soul – they now have dark chocolate too, but they are all SO SMALL!

There’s even a web site that is called, in part, ”nothing good ever lasts or the incredible shrinking candy bar.” So, you see, it’s not just my little girl perception or that my hand was smaller then.


[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


You have a remarkable memory for detail. This wonderful story took me back to visits to the "Mom and Pop" grocery a block from our home. The store sold nickel ice cream cones and lots of penny candy.

Making the trip was a treat in itself. Money was scarce in my family, as in yours. But, as small children, my sister and I never felt deprived.

Lyn - Nice memories, and great Pepsi ad!

"They" say that our 'normal' is what things were like when we were six. Those huge snow storms when the drifts were up to our shoulders - candy bars, sodas, and pay phone calls were a nickel. Today, when I feel that something is expensive, I divide by ten. If it still seems pricey, it probably is. - Sandy

I waited at the counter for service in the grocery store two days ago. The young lady behind the counter was helping a telephone customer. A 60ish lady beside me put her candy bars on the counter while we waited. The longer we waited the more trips she made to the cart with the sale candy bars.

I made a comment to her about her growing pile. She went on and on about the candy bars. There must have been 20. She talked about the Bun Pattys. I didn't know they still made them. She said, "They're only forty cents. I know she remembers when they were a nickle. It was her new century time at the cndy case.

I shared the story with my wife in much greater detail than here. I thought she'd enjoy it and a laugh. Her comment was. "Will you go back to the store and get me a Milky Way?"

Thanks for the memories of the corner store and the candy case. So sweet.

Lyn: I thought how lucky you were to be able to taste Pepsi Cola. We could only have our home made root beer as the already bottled stuff was too expensive even though my parents were both doctors. But I loved all your memories and glad you can still buy those chocolate delights, but I have never heard of them, maybe out here in the old west they haven't been introduced yet.


I loved Pepsi but seldom got a bottle of it because 5 cents was too much to pay for a soda.

My Aunt Marge made root beer and after bottling it would put all the bottles on the back lawn in the sunshine to ferment. All the kids had to go there once a week and help spin the bottles so they got equal sunshine.

The day my Aunt declared the root beer ready for tasting was a red letter day in the lives of us kids.

You have brought back this memory of very happy Depression times and I thank you.....

And thanks for all your memories, too. I do remember my father making root beer once, but I think it was just an experiment he wanted to try and never did do again. Must not have turned out too well.

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