Lately I've been thinking about food a lot; specifically, snacks. I sure miss my teenage metabolism, when I could eat as much as I wanted of anything I wanted, without gaining an ounce. Back then, both my mom and my doctor warned me that my body wouldn't always run so efficiently. They were right, of course.
I've been trying to lose 10 pounds the sensible way - exercise more, eat less. But the less I eat, the more I think about eating. These days, I'm even dreaming about my favorite snacks, counting Cheetos instead of sheep as I drift off to sleep. And my waking hours are filled with random thoughts and reminiscences of goodies gone by.
Like lipstick candy. Am I the only one who longs for those deep red, somewhat cherry flavored stubs of waxy sugar wrapped in gold foil and cellophane? Several years ago, I was delighted to discover Mary Jane peanut butter chews and Chick-o-Sticks in the Memory Lane section of Hilo's Sugar Coast Candy shop, along with Sugar Babies and Long Boys. They even had the little wax soda bottles filled with colored sugar water, but no lipstick candy.
I've searched online and found sources for nearly every other childhood favorite, including Good & Plenty, Now & Later, Charms, Chunky and Charleston Chews. You can order movie theater candies like Flicks and Sno-Caps or penny machine goodies like Boston Baked Beans. Remember Saf-T-Pops, the lollipops with looped handles instead of sticks? Pixy Stix, Necco wafers, Horlick's Malted Milk Tablets, they're all available online. But no lipstick candy.
You can get Bazooka bubble gum, complete with the Joe Bazooka mini-comic strip inside the wrapper. The catalog says "original" Bazooka, which makes me wonder whether they're selling 50-year-old stock. Except for Swell, which was to Bazooka as Pepsi is to Coke, all of the other old gums are available too: Dubble Bubble, Chiclets, Beech-Nut Fruit Stripe, even - believe it or not! - bubble gum cigarettes. They still come in packs of various brands, and according to the online ad, you can still get a puff of powdery "smoke" out of a fresh one by blowing through it. I wonder if the packs now carry a Surgeon General's warning and, if so, whether it warns of tobacco or sugar.
Of course, the best bubble gum, by far, was Kanebo. Made in Japan, the citrus-flavored gum came in packs of three thin sticks, with a temporary tattoo. Kanebo gum made the biggest bubbles, and it never, ever stuck to your face when it popped. It did stick to hair, as I learned when I used a whole pack to blow a bubble as big as my head.
Kanebo still makes gum, but they seem to have discontinued that classic recipe. Now, among other confectionery innovations, they have created Fuwarinka gum, which is said to make the user smell like roses or vanilla for up to six hours after chewing. And not just your breath; the scent supposedly oozes from your pores after you've digested the juices. Kanebo even suggested it as an alternative to perfume for folks with sensitive skin. I guess that's
not too surprising when you consider that the company manufactures both candies and cosmetics.
Another Japanese company is hitting it big with Bust Up gum, which claims to make breasts fuller and firmer. The makers tout a list of other benefits, including relief from menopausal symptoms and healthier hair and skin, but - as evidenced by the name - the breast thing is the real selling point. Or points.
Sigh. Times sure have changed. Now we have candies that explode in your mouth and gum that alters your body chemistry. Remember when all we expected from our sweets was sweetness? The exceptions were Cracker Jacks and Tomoe Ame, which included a little toy in each box. And Pez, of course. At least Pez still comes with a candy dispenser. It's been many years since I last used my Bozo the Clown, but I'm pretty sure the Hello Kitty and Batman dispensers of today work the same way. I wonder if the candy still tastes the same. I remember it didn't taste as good if you lost or broke your dispenser and had to eat the refills out of the paper wrappers.
All these musings over munchies have given me an idea. I should contact the Kanebo folks and propose that they combine their candy and cosmetics expertise to re-create my beloved lipstick candy. It's a natural, don't you agree? It wouldn't have to work like real lipstick; the old ones never did. And I wouldn't expect a lingering perfume or enhanced breasts. But maybe they could come up with a formula that takes 10 pounds off the rest of me. Yeah, I know . . . dream on.
* Kathy Collins is a performance artist, broadcaster and freelance writer whose "Sharing Mana'o" column appears every Wednesday. Her email address is email@example.com.