Maggy Button: Sweet memories from childhood candy cravings
I was working at my part-time job at a local market last week when I noticed customers coming through the check-out line with something I hadn't seen in decades and thought had long since ceased to exist -- Bonomo's Turkish Taffy.
As a kid (way too many decades ago!), I can remember we used to buy it because it lasted longer than a candy bar and, if you were in a generous mood, you could share it with your friends by smacking it against the sidewalk and breaking it into small chunks.
I was tempted to buy a couple of bars -- they were marked 50 percent off -- but then I calculated how much it would cost to get the caps on my teeth placed back on. Sometimes it's hell to get old ... I could have let it melt in my mouth over a period of time, but what good is taffy if you can't chew it?
It seemed to be my week for finding forgotten candy gems. On a trip to the Christmas Tree Shop in Holyoke, I found rolls of Necco Wafers, another candy I thought was long gone. While it was never one my favorites, my sister-in-law, Julie, was partial to it. Knowing she would get a kick out of it, I bought six rolls for 50 cents each. I then mailed them to her -- which cost me $5.18.
I also recently ran into Mallo Cups, which are now half the size they once were, and my all-time favorite candy bar -- the Zero Bar, which is like a Milky Way, but coated with white chocolate. I used to eat them frozen, but again, the thought of the dentist's bill stopped me from trying it now. And speaking of Mallo Cups, they came with a cardboard coin -- in varying denominations -- that you could save up and send in for free Mallo Cups. It took me months to save the 500 coin points, but the candy maker did, indeed, send 10 Mallo Cups in the mail.
Those of us who grew up in North Adams may remember going to the movies at the Paramount Theatre for Saturday matinees -- a children's movie with cartoons or Three Stooges shorts thrown in for good measure. Annually, the North Adams Police Department would host an afternoon of free movies and give away a slew of bicycles. When the movie was over, the screen rolled up, and there was an array of bicycles filling the stage. I held my breath each time a number was called, hoping it would be mine. Alas, I never won a bike. After the show, each child received a pencil box filled with school supplies.
The big decision before going to get your seat at the movie was going to the candy counter and figuring out how to get the most bang for your buck -- which back then was more like 25 cents. For me, candy bars were out of the question -- they didn't last long enough. I was partial to candy with some staying power, something that took awhile to consume. Many of my friends were into Jujubes, Good and Plenty or Bit O'Honey, but my preferences ran to Milk Duds, Sugar Babies and Boston Baked Beans (I still love Boston Baked Beans, which I can sometimes find in a dollar store or occasionally in a candy store).
Back in those days, smoking was an accepted part of life and it was perfectly fine for us to purchase candy cigarettes and bubble gum cigars and pretend we were famous movie stars. There were no ring pops adorning our fingers; candy necklaces were our fashion statement and my friends and I purchased tubes of candy lipstick. Remember the candy dots that came stuck on strips of white paper? I never really enjoyed them because some of the paper inevitably came off with the candy, but since everyone else bought them, so did I.
My dad had an occasional sweet tooth and because I was "Daddy's little girl," whatever he liked, I did, too. He was partial to Chunkys, a thick square of milk chocolate embedded with nuts and raisins, and Sky Bars, a candy bar with four squares, each filled with something different -- caramel, vanilla, chocolate and peanut butter.
Chewing gum was a big thing at the time also. My favorite was one called Teaberry and I can remember the advertising campaign was a series of TV commercials with people doing the Teaberry Shuffle. The one I loved had a London Beefeater in it. Then there was Fruit Stripe gum -- "yipes, stripes!" as the commercial said. I also liked Dentyne, Juicy Fruit and Bazooka bubble gum, which included a carton featuring Bazooka Joe and his friends and your fortune on the wax-paper wrapper. There was also Clove, Beeman's and Black Jack gum, which was a black licorice gum. And who can forget Chicklets? The small white squares of gum.
There were also wax lips and wax mustaches that could be chewed into gum and small wax bottles filled with colored sugary liquid that you drank. And how many of us spent too much money on Pixy Sticks -- long paper straws filled with a flavored sugary powder.
In retrospect, it's no wonder my teeth have caps!
So with candy bars on my mind, I offer this recipe for homemade Twix Bars.
Homemade Twix Bars
1/2 pound butter (unsalted)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups caramel baking chips
2 cups chocolate chips
1 4 cup coconut oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a mixer, cream together room-temperature butter and powdered sugar for about 2 minutes or until the butter and sugar are light and creamy. Add in 2 cups of flour and beat gently until flour is incorporated to the creamed sugar. Add in vanilla and mix until just blended. When the dough has turned into a soft uniform ball turn dough onto a lightly floured board.
Roll dough into a rectangle shape. Cut the dough into 4 even verticals and then cut them horizontally in about1/2 inch stripes. Use a fork to prick the cookies about three or four times a cookie so they will bake evenly. Place cookies onto an un-greased cookie sheet leaving a small distance between each cookie. Refrigerate cookies on the cookie sheet for about 15 minutes before baking the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes. By refrigerating the dough you will keep them from spreading out too much.
Melt caramel bits in the microwave for about 45 seconds, or until melted. Spread a thin layer of caramel over the baked cookies.
Over a double boiler melt together 2 cups of chocolate chips and1/4 cup of coconut oil. Stir continually until the chocolate has melted. When the chocolate has melted dip a cookie into the chocolate, turn cookie over with two folks until the cookie is fully coated. Place chocolate dipped cookie onto wax paper. Allow the chocolate to set up fully before storing cookie in an air tight container.