There are some tastes that are indelibly linked to certain events or times in my life, so much that I will go years or decades in between having something and it will still dredge up the memory it is linked to with vivid clarity. My sister and I recently had our niece, our cousin’s daughter, and her parents over for an afternoon. We take our duties as aunts very seriously - introducing her to the things that we enjoyed as children. This time was made cookies. Since she’s three I bought some premade cookie dough and a bunch of candy to decorate with. Candy is not something that I indulge in very often and most of the time when I do it’s usually some sort of chocolate. So, I hadn’t had skittles in years. One bite and I was eight or nine years old again, at the local swimming pool.
My mom loves to swim and would take us swimming at the local pool every summer. It was fun, but the best part, the part I remember the most vividly, was getting to buy candy at the concession stand. Mom would give us a few quarters once we were tired of the water and we would troop over to the little wooden stand and choose from an assortment of sweets. Lemon Heads, Sweet Tarts (the big ones), Laffy Taffy, or Skittles. They had some chocolate options too, but I always went for the tart, fruity ones.
I’d bring my candy back to my towel and sit in the sun and eat it. The Lemon Heads were too sweet until you got to the second layer which was equally too sour. I learned to bite through the first layer to expose the sour, so I could suck on them together. It was a rite of passage – learning to enjoy them. The skittles were much easier to eat and more enjoyable. The only downside was that they wouldn’t last as long. And the colors would stain my hands and towel as I decided which colors to eat first. The tart sweetness would sit on my tongue while the sugar gave me a second wind. I’d jump back in the pool after a few pieces until I was tired, and it was time to go home. I ate the rest of the candy, if there was any, on the way home.
Eating them again recently I wondered why it had been so long. The memories of those summers at the pool were as sweet as the candy. And then I remembered that I’m an adult who tries not to eat a lot of sugar. Certainly not heavily processed sugar. It’s bad for my health. Yet it’s important to me that my niece be exposed to it, because of the pleasure it gave me as a child. It makes me think that perhaps I need to make a little room in my life for treats like this. Ones that bring up good memories. My sister and I have already decided that as soon as our niece turns four we’re breaking out the sugary cereals, but that’s a whole year away. I think we’ll be making a trip to the store for Trix sooner than that.
Do you have memories tied to specifics kinds of candy? What’s a favorite that you haven’t had in a long time?