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Grandma’s Candy Dish Brings Back Sweet Memories

In case my last post gave you the impression that I only eat “healthy” food, let me set the record straight. I have a voracious sweet tooth!

So did my grandmother. And so do my mother and daughter. As I’m writing this, I’m chewing on a Bit-O-Honey, one of my favorite childhood candy treats. I’m certain I developed a sweet tooth from my Grandma Amelia. She fixed me healthy meals but they were always followed by dessert and candy.

Whenever I visited her, I went straight to the white porcelain candy dish on her end table to see what sweets lay inside. Her taste ran towards “junk” candy that she purchased at Woolworth’s: large gum drops, sugar coated orange slices and lemon drops. She also kept a tin of hard candy in her dining room closet. When we went to the movies on Saturday afternoon, our ritual was to first stop at the penny candy store across the street.

My grandma gave me a dime. To an eight-year old that seemed like a fortune. It took about fifteen minutes to select my favorite goodies. I pointed to the display case, and the elderly, wheezing lady who owned the store would patiently fill my paper bag with penny candy: envelopes of Lik-M-Aid (packs of tart powder), red wax lips, candy buttons, Mexican hats, Walnettos, red licorice whips, Kits taffy, Nik-L-Nips (wax bottles filled with a sweet syrup) and spearmint leaves. Then we crossed the street to the Four-Star theater to watch “Spanky and The Little Rascals,” while I savored each piece of candy.

My mom was never a fan of penny candy. She favors dark chocolate and always has her candy dish filled with a selection of See’s candy. When my grandparents visited our house, my grandma would try to sneak a piece of candy from the glass dish. We could always hear the top clink as she placed it back on the dish.

In my last post, I described the four-generation healthy tofu stir-fry dinner that my mom, daughter, two granddaughters and I prepared together. After our “healthy” dinner, I was craving something sweet, but it wasn’t “dessert night.” So we loaded our car and drove home. Ninety minutes later my husband and I stood foraging through my mom’s candy dish, filling our mouths with dark chocolate mallos and chews. My mom laughed hysterically explaining that she would have bet anything we’d want some sweets after all those “healthy” veggies. She was right. We each left with a handful of chocolates to eat on the rest of the drive home!

What I have learned from my grandmother and mother is to eat everything – but in moderation. That way I can have a healthy meal and also have dessert. It worked for my grandma who lived to age 93. My mom’s still going strong at 86 and I’m hoping I’ve inherited their “healthy” genes.

2 thoughts on “Grandma’s Candy Dish Brings Back Sweet Memories”

  1. Carolyn Kennedy

    My paternal grandparents came from Greece and learned to make candy. Hand dipped chocolates and ribbon candy were part of my life. I could watch my grandmother work the chocolate with her fingers until the chocolate was the right consistency and then roll nuts or raisins, finishing each candy with a special chocolate swirl.
    My grandfather and uncle owned a candy business and after school I would go there and could choose something from the glass counter. Some of my favorites were dark chocolate wintergreen patties and the peanut clusters. At Christmas time I’d watch my grandfather work the flavored sugar syrup on the shop’s marble counter until it was like spun glass and then shape it into the traditional ripples of ribbon candy. People would line up down the street from the shop, waiting to purchase one or more of the white boxes of ribbon candy my grandfather made.
    My Norwegian mother definitely had a sweet tooth also and we often made pans of fudge and then raced to see who could eat
    the last piece.
    Eventually I got married, but to a man who was allowed maybe one or two candy bars a year. One day I came home from grocery shopping. I had fortified myself for the chore with a Clarks Bar. When I got home, my husband pulled the wrapper, sticking out of my coat pocket, and waved it in my face. “What is this?” he demanded to know. Maybe it was because I was pregnant at the time but I felt accused of some dreadful crime.
    Today my nine year old granddaughter is following in my tradition. She loves nothing more than to go to a candy store and while they are not penny candies any more, there are still bins to select from, and her father allows her to fill her bag halfway, and then it is weighed and paid for. One day after we got home, she climbed onto her bed, started eating her candy, and said, “There is nothing better than to sit in bed and eat candy.”

  2. My dad is 93 and still lives alone. He eats a whole grapefruit every morning and he loves other fruits and salad. I feel sure that his healthy eating habits have prolonged his life.

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