Ahhh, Halloween. Close your eyes with me and think back to that one Halloween evening that you closely remember. That one, unique special night you think about when the season change and the aroma of firewood hangs in the crisp fall air.
Was there a welcoming, cool breeze blowing down the street? Perhaps with it, the sound of the tumbling and rustling of autumn leaves? Was the same wind carrying the laughter of the other trick or treaters, electric and tingling with excitement?
Maybe you didn't have leaves (California transplant here), but who doesn't remember that unmistakable and intoxicating aroma of various candies wafting from your plastic pumpkin or pillowcase, all mixing together to make that one perfect storm of unmistakable Halloween scents promising the best sugar high of your life?
Once upon a time, Halloween was a big deal. All the kids got out there and trick or treated. Parents made costumes, helped you with makeup, even took you to the nice parts of town to get the good stuff, we're talking full-sized chocolate bars! The sad thing is, it can STILL be a big deal, all it requires is for us, now grown ups and older kids, to get off our lazy butts and decorate a little and let the kids go trick or treating. But I digress.
Since starting my own business at The Orc's Lair now over 4 years ago, I've been caught up in all the adulting that a small business requires, and I daresay, I've missed a lot of holidays in these 4 years. After a tough summer of 2020 (booooo, hissss!), I decided to myself a refreshed outlook on life and celebrate every little moment I can, which got me thinking... let's talk Halloween. Let me will its existence back into my heart, and hopefully, into yours as well. Let's bring the magic back!
I present to you, my top 10 disappointing candies I got as a kid.
#10: Wax Lips
Some people remember their first kiss, others, their first school dance. Me? Well, I remember my first pair of wax lips. It was the day after Halloween and I finally had to confront the bright red lips that were sitting in the remnants of the candy that survived the previous evening. Ah, the lucky survivors. But not for long. But first, questions.
Was this even candy? It didn't look like candy. I went to the only source of knowledge I had back then, my mother.
Me: *confusingly rotating them in my hand, trying to make sense of what it was* I gathered the courage and approached her in the hallway. Ah-ha, pinned ya. A mother's worst nightmare.
"Mom, what are these?"
Her: "Those are wax lips, honey. They're good."
Her quick answer and confidence swayed me.
Me: "They are??"
I searched her face, deciding I could see no bluff.
She took her leave of me and I was left standing there, processing my fate.
I stared down at them, she's never steered me wrong before, right? So, I did what any dumb kid did, unwrapped them and stuck em in my mouth.
Now, before we go on with my tale, let me say that there were moments like this, from here on out in this innocent child's life as I grew into an adult, that I came to found out that were a commonplace in becoming more of a street smart individual. I call these moments, deception.
Well, they were in my mouth. I was doing it. Shields were lowered, I had gone for it, full monty. I gave them that good ol' college try.
OK....so I didn't taste anything. What was I missing here? I gave it another few moments, probably looking like a little idiot with these giant red lips on my face. After accepting that this was what I was experiencing, my mother's words echoed in my mind, "they're good... they're good...."
I bit down. Tasteless still. What, no miracle change in flavour? I closed my eyes to focus on tasting. I decided to go for it, in they go, the whole thing, a proper bite, in its entirety.
Oh, hold on a second. WAX. Like a candle. Of course. It was so simple. Wax lips. This was literal. How could I be so blind?
I chewed more. It was like a crayon. Lovely. What's your problem, mom? Hook, line, and sinker.
#9: Bazooka Joe Bubblegum
Oh, Bazooka Joe. You all-American rascal, you. Sure, you came with a mini comic in each wrapper, but they really weren't all that better than that untrained meance of a pooch, Marmaduke or the ungrateful children of Family Circus, but I do remember rolling my eyes once or twice at your friends ripping on you, Joe, and for that, you don't get the dishonorable discharge of my number 1 spot, but your ordinary plainness and common distribution into my mix of candy each and every year makes you the sparrow of my candy universe.
Although there are kids that like bubblegum, I just wasn't one of them. Sure, maybe all the years of being stuffed in the backseat with my carsick sisters who were smacking on gum helped contribute to the horrors I feel when the aroma of classic bubblegum hits my nostrils. But really, how much Bazooka Joe can you really consume? Too much of a lame thing. At least, at the very least, you had real sugar, although I keep seeing sugarless versions of you these days. Great classic taste with a chance of tumor growth, great!
While I have you, grow a spine, BJ, your friends were real jerks to you and you took it, especially that kid with the bandana over his face. I wouldn't put up with it. You guys need to sit down ad reevaluate your friendship. I'm also pretty sure he's getting with your girl, dude. What's he hiding under that mask? Things that make you go, hmmm. In the words of Ernest Hemingway, (and I'm paraphrasing here), Bazooka Joe, you're an imbecile.
#8: Rootbeer Barrels
Rootbeer is good. Ice cold cream soda is also good. Rootbear floats are good, and that's were these things get you. They aren't any of those. They aren't cold or refreshing. They certainly don't get the high honours of ice cream with a straw, and they sure don't quench your thirst after a long night of trick-or-treating. Simply put, take away all the good parts of rootbeer, and you have yourself rootbeer barrels.
I tried to tell myself, hey, these looks like kegs of beer, because I was stupid and thought beer was made in barrels, but really, I was just trying to talk them up. That's called lying to yourself, a timed honoured tradition in the years to come.
Rootbeer barrels are like putting a disguise on something, or like a desert mirage. Its only disappointing, in the end. Into the discard pile. Maybe my sister wants them. What's the going rate on trades anyway?
#7: Hard Caramels
What am I, a 75 year old man? Did you not notice I was 8 years old and full of life and hope? No, you let me say trick-or-treat and you gave me hard old man caramels, aka, the trick. Maybe I asked for it.
OK, so maybe, I technically did with that whole trick-or-treat thing, but you weren't supposed to pick trick. Maybe you were just too cheap to spring for rootbeer barrels. I don't know, but I'm not having it. I'm a kid, dammit!
#6: Candy Corn
Aside from pumpkins, witches, scarecrows, and black cats, candy corn is the very symbol of Halloween. Why? Is it the delicious blandness or impossible-to-discribe flavour? No, its because of the colour and because our parents kept buying them and sticking them in glass jars to stimulate our innocent senses. They look Halloween so much that we give them a pass. Well, after years of enduring them, the truth must come out.
I get it, a lot of people do like them, and thats totally fine. This is a list of my personal disappointments. For reals though, I tried to like them as well. I would bite off the tops, give those a taste. Try just the bottoms, eat the middles, trying to see if any of the layers had a subtle nuance, some sort of delicate difference than the other counterparts that escaped my developing senses, the very same that would land my a career in cooking in the future. Nah.
#5: Pumpkin Shaped Candy Corn
This is what happens when some sly bastard at the candy corn factory gets a wild hair and pitches a new design for an old candy. I picture it like this: he was obviously gunning to move from the factory line to the board of execs. Maybe he had a kid on the way and needed insurance. Whatever his reasons this is how it went:
"I know the next big thing. Candy corn, but also its a pumpkin. Kids are dumb, they're never know the difference! We'll take out the layers, and just make them orange, maybe top them with a little green stem. We don't have the change the ingredients, just shape them a little different! They'll never know the difference!"
The executives at the candy corn factory exchanged glances, no one spoke for a few moments.
The soon-to-be-father presenter sweated, stupid grin still beaming behind a mask of nervousness, cracking slowly in the tense silence. His eyes searching their faces for any sign of hope. Had he pushed too hard and too soon? Had he flown too close to the sun?
Finally, the big boss spoke up, "I like it. Let's do it. We'll make millions! He's right, kids will never know the difference! They're dumb!" Maniacal laughter permeated the room, outside thunder clapped and lightening struck a mighty 200 year old oak tree, burning it to the ground.
What you'll do is make a nice pile of candy corn pumpkins that I'm going to give to my sister. She'll eat anything.
They're fantastic if you like the taste of throw up. There's chocolate, and then there's "chocolate" covered things that make you wanna barf.
These are those and barf I will.
Worse than Milk Duds, worse than Sugar Daddies, and somehow worse than Raisinetes. Now that's impressive. The kind of evil that Skeletor would be proud of.
#3: Toostie Pops
I know not the poor person who developed what I call The devil's turds, aka the Tootsie Roll, but I picture them as a desperate soul, trying to make something chocolate without using so much as a drop of the good stuff.
I often think, perhaps it was one of the accidents, like how Silly Putty was accidentally invented when someone screwed up a tire formula over at Goodyear and was like, derrrr, I made a thing! It ain't a tire, but look, its stretchy! You can bounce it too! Oh, and it copies uhhh, newspaper print! Please don't fire me.
Or maybe they were an alchemist, trying to create gold or resurrect a long lost loved one and instead of either of those things appearing in their chalk-outlined summoning circle, a lone tootsie roll was sitting in there dissipating smoke of his mad and desperate experiment gone awry. Since they already had the formula all written out and all the ingredients gathered in large quantities, they went with it. Took it to the candy store to unload and make it their problem.
Sometime later, their nasty mother-in-law came over and decided he would be better a better husband if he stuck them in the center of a lolly pop, because, you know, those are already so bleeding exciting, and he had already ruined their daughter's lives by marrying them, knocking them up, and just being a failure of a man in general because he's not the man she wanted her daughter to be with, and the beloved Tootsie Pop was born. A mad experiment incased in a disappointing shell, if only to conceal its demonic center. A center of true disappointment.
#2: Tootsie Rolls
Aka the devil's turds, the poops from the prince of darkness! See Tootsie Pops, but take away the part you can actually eat before getting to the horrible, grotesque center. It's a product of hell, conceived by the fallen angel himself, only for those who have seen madness.
How many licks does it take to get the center of a Tootsie Pop? Well, let me tell you: as many as it takes until you taste the actual Tootsie Roll and chuck that thing out the window of a fast moving car, that's how many. I counted.
#1: Those Foil Strawberry Candies (Bon Bons)
Perhaps the most common and cheapest candy of the bunch. The problem with these is that the packaging makes them almost promising. Shiny as an angel's smile, but what lies inside is an abomination, a deception created in that one part of the underworld where the imps play jokes on man in the world above if only to get off on their sweet, sweet disappointment, exactly how Nickleback albums are produced.
If strawberries and fruit are natures candy, then these are humanities cruelest creation. When you're sorting your candy, you have piles of what's good and what's not. You got your chocolate pile, Snickers, Reese's, Milky Way, Crunch, Krackle, your M&M's and the regal Mr. Goodbar. You got your runner ups, Smarties, maybe Skittles if you flow that way, and tricky deviants like Sixlets that sneak in there. Then you got your rejects pile, captained and headed by the varsity all-star, the strawberry bon bon.
This is pinata fluff, the stuff you use to stretch out the candy in that generic, legally-distinct-so-we-dont-get-sued Spongebob, Dora, or Creeper. The stuff to make it look like you really hooked up some kids. Yeah, this is exactly the ploy you came up with, trying to land those single moms at the birthday party. Oh, you hooked up those kids alright. Between these, the pumpkins, the candy corn, hard caramels, and the rootbear barrels, I should manage to trade all those in for a single fun-sized Three Musketeers and I'd call that a sure win. You're not fooling anyone with these. I've yet to see a single kid run for those when the pinata gets disemboweled or the Halloween candy gets sorted.
This is ground zero right here. A candy so despicable, so deplorable, so wrought with evil that it ranks at #0, not even deserving to be on the list with real numbers with the other Halloween candy rejects.
If there's one thing kids just love with their chocolate, its FRUIT! Line up, boys and ghouls, its freaking raisins, here! Get healthy! Jump rope! Read books!
Yeah, if you think Tootsie Rolls are the devil's turds, try his diabolical pet goat's putrid pellets. I don't know if they think they're clever, like the whole company got together with a bunch of moms to hide fruit inside of candy or what, but someone is up in the Nestle factory laughing his ass off, counting his money, standing on a pile of raisins like some greedy version of Willy Wonka. And, like the previously mentioned Nickleback albums, someone's grandma keeps buying them for their unsuspecting grandkids and that's the reason they still exist today.
Sure, I hear some people like to put these in their popcorn at the theaters, but I also hear how some people eat tarantulas, earthworms, and peppers so hot, you practically melt. Some of us just like pain and some of us only know madness. Some of us eat Raisinets.