Friday’s Top Ten: Old School Candy

There were three neighborhood stores. Miss Aida, Miss Robinson, and Miss Durka. Miss Aida was the most popular because she had the widest selection of candy. On top of that, she stayed open until ten in the summer. She got all of our money.

Miss Durka had a real story attached to a car repair garage. She was old even back then but she was nice. Shorty was cool but I always thought he looked rather strange. This biggest problem with Miss Durka is getting a pop was a test of manhood. The pop machine was in the back where she had her German Shepard tied. He wouldn’t bite but he’d jump out at you if you got too close. There were many days my mom didn’t get that bottle of Pepsi. Miss Durka was also next to Nikki’s hotdog stand and she would give us ten cents for each bottle we brought her. So, if you had a buck and a case of bottles, Miss Durka was the spot.

Miss Robinson was what we referred to as ‘on the end’. In reality it was only 1 ½ blocks but we only went past 76th avenue if we were going to Church or uptown, which was two blocks away. That’s Argo living for you, but I digress. Miss Robinson was all about the cakes and cookies. My cousin lived two houses down from her and when we went to the store for her she would let give us candy. Taking the trash out was the most lucrative because then you could a hostess cake.

I write this to paint a picture for you. To illustrate that candy is not just Corn Syrup, Sugar, Corn Starch, Natural and Artificial Flavors and Artificial Colors – but it is a way of LIFE for a child. Candy is a way of expressing one’s youth. It enhances our expression of the world. And with that, I give you my favorite candy from my youth.

1. Chico Sticks – If you’ve never had one of these brittle, peanut buttery flavored snacks, then you haven’t lived. This is the type of candy that you didn’t mind getting stuck in your teeth because even the residuals were good. Yeah, that sounds nasty but ya’ll know ya’ll use to do it.
2. Boston Bake Beans – Ten cent a box. I’m not sure what they are made of but they are good.
3. Grape Chews – I’m not sure if this is a regional candy but they were soft very flavorful. They came in all types of flavors but the first to hit the Penny Candy Sto’ were the grape flavored so now that’s what we call them.
4. Now or Later – Pronounced ‘Nowalata’ in the hood, they were a staple of every bag of snacks from the Penny Candy Sto’. The come in all assorted flavors and if you’re lucky you’d get a fresh pack that was easy to chew.
5. Cracker Jacks – There was a plant in Chicago that made these. On a good day you could drive by the plant and smell the caramel and imagine it oozing over the popcorn. The cheap toys inside the bag were what we wanted. A good bag contained a decent amount of peanuts.
6. Dip – This was a package containing two pouches of kool-aid and one candy dipper. Now that I think about it, they weren’t that good but they were popular.
7. Lemon Heads – Everybody should about Lemon Heads.
8. Bazooka Gum – The gum was nasty and the flavored lasted about two minutes. But the treat was the comic inside the wrapper. I collected them for about two years.
9. Alexander the Grape – No one outside of Chicago has heard of these but they were smaller than Lemon Heads and dark purple. Maybe about the size of Red Hots and by the time you finished the box your tongue would turn purple.
10. Caramel PopsThe test was, how long could you lick it without taking a bit. Because once you bit into it, that was it. These were 15 cents so they were a luxury item. Generally, you only got them if you had a dollar to spend. I usually had to wait until my father came by and gave me two dollars. When that happened, oh, it was on then. Those times I could actually afford to get a Honey Bun.


17 Responses to Friday’s Top Ten: Old School Candy

  1. jaimie Says:
    Great memories...unfortunately, I don't have great candy memories like that since my mom pretty much forbid any type of excess sugar entering the home (No Kool-Aid, no candy, no cereal with sugar in it). Wow...I was really deprived. I guess this would explain why I rarely crave sweets now. Damn, I had a hard life...
  2. Cynthia Says:
    Nice list. Those Bazooka Gums were nasty. I grew up in the suburbs so we didn't have people selling candy out of their house. Now, I live in Chicago and my next door neighbors sells candy and it drives me crazy.
  3. Midlife Crisis Says:
    >Alexander the Grape – No one outside of Chicago has heard of these..

    Are you kidding? Those were the shizznit over in Brooklyn!
    We didn't have any candy ladies, though--we had the corner bodegas. The first time I'd ever seen the phenomenon (candy lady) was when I spent a summer in Va. Tripped me out.
  4. James Manning Says:
    I was wondering if someone outside of Chicago heard of Alexander the Grape.. that is real cool. I don't know what a bodegas is, maybe you can go into detail for us.

    Cynthia, I know the kids can get on your nerves but just think of all the memories they will have and smiles the come from getting a bag of cherries and jolly ranchers.
  5. Anonymous Says:
    a bodega is a local neighborhood store that is owned by locals not by corporate or chains etc..
  6. Anonymous Says:
    they also call bodegas penny stores where you can buy "penny candy" samething
  7. Thawtz Says:
    this is like the third time i've looked at this list, and i'm just now gettin around to sayin it... but c'mon! the fireball dare! who could suck on the fireball longer without getting all teary eyed and panting like a rabid pit bull? i know some one here has done that dare.

    and i was lucky, i had three candy ladies on my block before i even got to the coe-nuh sto'. i had to walk through the alley to get to the sto' or i'da been broke before i got there
  8. peachdream Says:
    Boy this was too funny and oh so familiar. We had a Mr. Taylor who had the candy store. I remember walking from his house when I was little thinking to myself.."I know I have given him at least one million dollars of my money already" I then myself opened a candy store out of my house when I got older. I am 42 yrs old and they now call me the candy lady at work cuz I have to have candy err day. Your list is sooo on the spot.
  9. Anonymous Says:
    What about Sugar Daddies and Babies? Your list was great, lots of memories of our candy lady, who never had change....
  10. Anonymous Says:
    Robyn - CT

    What I can't believe nobody said Apple Jolly ranchers the long sticks that cost 10 cents or Squirrel nuts for 5cents!!!! And for the record we have alexander the grape in Connecticut too.. u ever try and put a whole box in your mouth you go in to sour shock.......
  11. Anonymous Says:
    Yeah !!! all that and more, how about peach buds, the carmals with the white in the middle, cherrie mash, black cow, pixy stixs, charms, laffy taffy, fizzies, red hots, bitter honey, mary jane, bb bats, wax lips, carmel squares, blow pops, dots, candy cigaretts, bubble gum cigars, kits, mike & ike, root beer barrels, bottle caps, just to name a few. It is always good to remember the days of fun when we were all kids. Now a Lators. Love the site.
  12. Anonymous Says:
    That's a great story. Waiting for more. »
  13. Pat Says:
    For us before Sunday church, we had a small candy store on the side where we bought our candy and cookies: those gigantic round "Jackson" cookies, the Big Time candy and, of course, sugar babies and sugar daddies--this is in Tulsa, OK back in the day. Pat
  14. Anonymous Says:
    Man we had Ms. Susie, and she used to have a big china cabinet full of all kinds of candy. I don't know about ya'll but in Ohio, we had lily dillies. They were frozen assorted flavors of kool-aid in little styrofoam cups for a quarter.
  15. Anonymous Says:
  16. dwnsouthcandyfan Says:
    o.k. i remember chocolate and caramel now laters but no one else seems to remember them. da bomb especially when you combine the two and eat them together. dwnsouthcandyman
  17. Tim Donakowski (Writer), Dylan Krenka (Art Director) Says:
    how about candy buttons...