Childhood Favorites: Convenience Store Edition

February 11, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Growing up as a kid I had the privilege of living down the street from a convenience store. I have memories of riding my bike down to the Handimart to blow what little cash I had on all sorts of nonsense that of course was completely awesome at the time. In this edition of Childhood Favorites, I'd like to share some of the crap that I was willing to dig under couch cushions to scrounge up loose change for.

Candy Cigarettes & Jerky Stuff - Honestly, I don't know how everyone in my generation isn't smoking like a chimney right now. The number of candy/snack items imitating tobacco products they had out there to help us "look cool" is staggering. Can you imagine if a kid whipped out a pack of candy cigarettes now a days? He'd probably get expelled from school. Yet back in my day you could drop 35 cents on what appeared to be a pack of Lucky Strike, when in fact they were just long white peppermint candy sticks. If you missed out on the candy cigarette era, just go eat some peppermint Altoids. They taste the exact same.

Jerky Stuff was the bomb. Not only could you look like a little Lenny Dykstra with a wad of beefy goodness in your bottom lip, but each tin came with a circular baseball card in the bottom. What's that? You're tin of jerky is cashed? Not all is lost, look who's at the bottom, why it's Chris Sabo's goggle-clad visage staring back at you!

Suicides - You may have called it something else, but the ridiculous concoction of taking a cup and filling it with all different kinds of soda from the fountain was called a suicide in my neck of the woods. Why limit yourself to just one choice of soda when you could drink 7 at the same time? While I haven't had a suicide since the original Bush administration, I can't recall them being any good. In fact my recollection of them is that no matter what the mixture it always tasted about the same. Kind of like when you thought it'd be cool to mix all your paint colors together, only to realize it just makes everything a shit brown. Nonetheless if you never had your taste buds accosted by this sugary amalgamation of sodas, then your truly missed out in your childhood. Although it'd be kind of funny nowadays as an adult to be at Subway filling up your soda with folks waiting behind you and then suddenly bust out the suicide.

Wax Pack Baseball Cards - I started collecting cards right at the tail end of the innocent era of baseball cards, before jackasses started buying case upon case of packs as an "investment". I remember going down to the Handimart and buying a pack of Topps for 45 cents. All I ever bought were Topps. Fleer and Donruss were for communists. Anyway I remember getting a pack and being completely stoked whenever I got a Cub. It didn't matter if it was Ryne Sandberg or Chico Walker, those cards were like gold to me. Oh and who can forget the gum? Good luck chewing one of those down to a malleable wad without cutting your gums on one of the rigid corners.

Garbage Pail Kids - Holy shit. I remember the uproar parents had when these came out. This stuff would probably be pretty tame to today's standards. Adults trying to get rid of them just made their appeal that much greater for us kids.

Cheap Candy - I've never been much of a saver. If I go out to the bar with $40, I'll probably spend every last dime before calling it a night. I think this behavior began in my early days at the convenience store. Always looking to buy the most I could with what money I had, I constantly found myself looking to the bottom shelf to see what 5 and 10 cent delights I could buy. For me the candy of choice were Laffy Taffy's, Now and Laters, and Bazooka Joe gum.

Laffy Taffy's were always a good buy. You could get a fruity piece of taffy to chew on plus there were the jokes on the inside of the wrapper. "Oh he threw the clock out the window because he wanted to see time fly! Comedic gold!"

Bazooka gum didn't go without it's perks as well. Each piece of 5 cent gum came with a small Bazooka Joe comic. So as you bit down in your rock hard piece of gum you could read a tiny comic strip about the travails of Bazooka Joe. Unfortunately they were never printed all that clearly and the stories were sometimes as cryptic as a David Lynch film. Also Bazooka Joe had an eyepatch. That's always a good look. If I ever lose an eye I'd go for the patch over the glass eye. Although the overrated 'pirate fad' would ruin it a bit. I'll have to wait until that dies down before having an eye gouged out.

Now and Laters puzzle me. I honestly don't remember enjoying those little SOB's at all and yet I still bought them. Forget Laffy Taffy, baseball card gum or Bazooka. In terms of hardness Now and Laters were seemingly made of freaking Tupperware. Apparently kids have a grudge against their jaws. Fact, only diamonds can scratch a Now and Later.

Clearly Canadian - What the hell happened to Clearly Canadian? They seemed to disappear as fast as they emerged. There was that brief period of time in middle school and high school when CC was the drink of choice. Between that and Crystal Clear Pepsi we apparently were digging stuff that appeared clean and pure.

PB Max - I'd kill a drifter if it meant getting M&M/Mars to bring back the PB Max. This was one of the greatest candy bars ever. Like a big square peanut butter Twix with peanuts in it. Once they bring that back I'll focus my attention to Hershey to bring back the Bar None.

I could go on forever talking about things like how the Skor bar is vastly superior to Heath (more chocolatey toffee goodness for your buck) or the various other candy I used to buy such as Mambas (ghetto Starburst) or Zotz, but I'll have to save that for another day.