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Riddles

Fond Recollections of Ingesting Terrible Things

As a kid, I would waste my allowance on the usual dumb things: comic books and candy. My parents hated this, of course, because I suppose they were following the “it’ll teach him fiscal responsibility” model, but naturally I learned nothing. Well, nothing except, “One day a week I can gorge myself on sweets while reading trash, and the other six I can spend desperately waiting for that one day.” Some favorites:

Good ‘N Plenty: These are of course neither. They look like circus medicine, come about nine and a half to the box, and taste vaguely licoricey. There was just one enormous batch made in 1933, and none since. It’s okay, there’s still a lot left. These however, did allow me to discover:

Good ‘N Fruity: Which are marginally less terrible than its cousin, but still a big lie all the same. These are to fruit flavor as Edie Brickell is to songcraft. There’s just no relationship. The name is also clearly a not-too-sly bit of agenda-pushing by the Homosexual Ruling Elite.

Spree: What the hell were these things? Spree? Packaged in a long silvery cylinder to boot, it looked like something John Travolta might have pulled from the front of his jeans. Were all the candy marketers trying to tell me something? These were horse-choking lozenge thingies that used the common dirty trick of coming in many colors yet all tasting identical. Which is to say: like lost, dusty dreams. They wanted to be good, but some flavor vampire had gotten to them first.

Necco Wafers: Paper-thin discs of varying wan colors dusted with what might have been dioxin, these Luddites of the candy world eschewed everything. Flavor, texture, appearance, a coherent reason for existence: Necco had none of these. More imaginative parents might have used them as punishment. “I’m sorry I broke the TV, Dad.” “You’re going to eat one whole roll of Necco Wafers, young man.” “I’m going to call Child Services.” “You want to try for two, buster?”

Wonka’s Bottle Caps: Roald Dahl should be proud of Wonka Candies, because they clearly have the same vicious streak of hilarious misanthropy that his writing does. Vaguely soda-flavored anthropomorphized bottle caps? Uh . . . yum. Or as my geek friends might put it, !yum.

Wonka’s Everlasting Gobstopper: Another fiendish Wonka creation, popular only with the most dysfunctional of children. Autistics probably dream of these things, and would probably explain a lot of their behavior. “Why doesn’t my child want me to touch or hold him? Why does he hurt himself?” Answer: he is not getting any Everlasting Gobstoppers. A fist-sized sphere that tastes like sweetened sadness, but the longer you suck on it, it changes colors. Seriously. Who gives a fuck? It’s in your mouth. So you have to take it out to get the effect. That’s adorable; something that encourages children to spit out their food and show it to others.

So the question is, why did I eat these terrible things? They all looked like something out of a Bosch painting, and their taste may be described as what you’d imagine a Vice President would taste like. It’s not like I tortured my other senses; comic books can be aesthetically pleasing, and I certainly wasn’t enjoying the rather Hadean reek of our cafeteria. So why was I putting these disgusting things in my mouth all the time? It’s a question I’m going to ponder over a cigarette.

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