My mother is an evil genius. As children my sister and I were sternly warned before we went into a store that if we asked for a treat, the answer would be an automatic “no.” What this resulted in were two children who behaved, well tried to, and silently pleaded in their heads, “please, please, please” as they stood in line next to the chocolate bars. The same silent pleading happened when we came to one particular round about in town. If we went all the way around, it meant a trip to McDonald’s for a milkshake. If we only went half-way, it meant we crossed the causeway and then on to home. The disappointment, if we didn’t go all the way around or if she finished her purchase without so much as a glance at the candy rack, was devastating. But on the occasions when we were treated, it was a palpable sense of gratitude and excitement. Even now I think I have won a small fortune when my husband lets me stop at McDonald’s for a hot fudge sundae (I try to keep it low key and not ask for a treat of the week). See what I mean, evil genius.
Inevitably on a day that we received a treat, we would stop at Shoppers Drug Mart on the way home so my mother could pick out a treat for my father. She would stand in the candy isle making a decision that my sister and I could never understand. To a child candy consists of things like gummie bears and/or worms, gum tape, giant chocolate bars, pixie sticks, sour keys, fun dips, things that would put any normal adult into a sugar induced comma for a few days. My father on the other hand would receive a bag of Bridge Mixture and Spearmint leaves. Really, chocolate covered dehydrated fruit and toothpaste tasting jube jubes posing as candy?
Over the years my sister and I have developed an understanding of this that we have accepted, and now celebrate. This is what we have termed Old Man Candy. For a brief illustration let me provide you with some of the items that have fit our definition of Old Man Candy. Liquorice All-Sorts, Goodies, liquorice pipes, pink peppermints, coconut chocolate bars, and Cherry Blossoms, in essence anything your father deemed to be a delightful treat when you simply thought, “he just does not get it.” Now Old Man Candy is not to be confused with Old Lady Candy which is limited to wrapped hard candy, scotch mints, ribbon candy and chicken bones.
Much to the chagrin of my inner child, as I have aged, I now find these options reasonable prospects. I cringe when I see my nieces devour a push-pop or ring candy in a matter of one afternoon. I don’t know if it’s my changing tastes or my endless sense of nostalgia. It was always a given that Dad would share his treat with us, so I believe my palate now prefers the indescribable taste of liquorice or playing the game in Bridge Mixture of avoiding the strange orange one. It’s like molasses. There is no reason to like that slow moving substance, but at some point in your life you were given a piece of white bread with a one inch thick layer of butter (more likely margarine) with molasses poured on top. I eat it for the sake of inducing time photo shopped memories and I cherish them.