Flashback Friday: Penny Candy

Penny candy is one of my sweetest childhood memories.

My sisters and I would hop on our ten-speeds and ride a mile to the tiny market in our tiny town, each of us with ten cents in our pocket, intent upon one thing.: buying candy. Ten pieces of it, to be precise.

The postage-stamp sized store had the best selection of penny candy around. We’d huddle in front of the register where the candy was in full view of the friendly clerk and deliberate. Choosing which ten pieces to buy took time. One couldn’t rush such an important decision.

Some of my favorites included:

Bottle Caps
jawbreakers
Jolly Ranchers
Necco wafers
Pixy Stix
red licorice ropes
Sixlets
Smarties
SweeTarts
Tootsie Rolls

What amazes me is that while many things have changed since those idyllic days of childhood, candy choices have pretty much remained a constant. I can still find most of the brands I enjoyed as a kid in stores today. Of course, I’d need a lot of pennies to purchase it.

• • •

What were your favorite candies as a kid?

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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30 Responses to Flashback Friday: Penny Candy

  1. Char Chaffin says:

    Wow, Keli! Just the words “penny candy” brings back tons of memories. I used to scavenge for glass soda pop bottles and take them to the corner grocery, collect my money and then blow it all on penny candy. My favorites were nonpareils, Tootsie Pops, Silly Straws, malted milk balls, jawbreakers, Swedish Fish, Nik-L-Nip wax bottles and marshmallow cones. If I felt like splurging, I’d buy a big box of Dots and a sheet of candy buttons. 🙂 Isn’t it wonderful that we can still find these treats online??!

    Char

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Char, I remember lugging those glass soda bottles to the store in order to get money to spend on candy. What a kid will do for a sweet treat. =)

  2. I liked Tootsie Rolls and gumballs as a child. Now chocolate over sour…I can’t handle sweet tarts or anything that makes my face cringe on its own. 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Lacie, I’ll remember not to surprise you with sour candies when we room together at the ACFW conference. Don’t want to be responsible for making you cringe. LOL

  3. donnapyle says:

    My sisters and I loved bubble gum, so the pink, cigar shaped bubble gum was a must! We would munch, blow bubbles, and imitate George Burns and W.C. Fields. 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Donna, it sounds like you and your sisters had fun with your impressions. I wasn’t much good at blowing bubbles. Mine would get holes in them or pop, leaving me with sticky cheeks.

  4. Erica Vetsch says:

    Jolly Ranchers, peppermints, and gumballs were favorite penny candies. We also saved up for things like Cherry Mash, Baby Ruth, and Sprees.

    And upon occasion we’d buy the candy cigarettes. Eeek!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Erica, I forgot about Sprees. Yummy. And even though I cringe at the thought now, I huffed on many a candy cigarette as I imitated my older relatives. Thankfully, my “smoking” was limited to those super sweet cavity sticks. =)

  5. You are walking inside one of my best memories of childhood. On the corner above where we lived an old “candy store” … those that sold everything from newspapers to chewing gum to scotch tape sat and it was once a week with my precious nickel I would run to Mrs. Applebaum’s store. I made her crazy changing my mind a dozen times before I finally clutched the tiny brown bag in my hand and sat on our front steps (the stoop in Brooklyn) and savored each delicious treat. I love that memory so much I used it in a short story and her name in another. My favorite to this day are Mary Jane and in a catalogue each Christmas they are sold in a small yellow can. Of course … we don’t get much for that nickel these days.

    Thanks for the memory, Keli 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Florence, it sounds like you had the same kind of wonderful candy store ritual my sisters and I did. Shopkeepers in that day who sold penny candy had to be pillars of patience, didn’t they?

  6. Every Halloween my parents remember their childhood days when they received big candy bars. Personally I don’t think today’s “fun size” candy bars are very fun 😦

    I’ve always been a chocoholic, so I didn’t eat much candy. I did like Swedish fish a lot, though. My favorite chocolate bars are Snickers, Kit Kat, and Take 5! When I was a kid they were 40¢. Now they’re over a $1! And don’t get me started on how much the king-size bars are (which really aren’t much bigger anyway). Craaaazy.

  7. Loree Huebner says:

    Oh my gosh, Keli, the memories!

    I remember going to my Grandparent’s house and Grandpa would give us each a quarter. They lived in the city and had a real candy store at the end of their block. Penny candy galore! We would come back with our little paper sacks filled!

    We also used to collect Pepsi bottles to turn in for change at our nearby “little store” – which is still known today as the “little store.” With our nickles and dimes, we would buy candy.

    I was particularly fond of:
    red shoe string licorice, Pixie Sticks, SweeTarts, and those flying saucer wafers with little candy beads inside. I also loved the Smarties and it’s counter part, Fizzies – Smarties that fizzed. I don’t see those anymore.

    I still can find most of these. I found the flying saucer wafers at a candy store in the mall…oh boy…now they cost a fortune for just a few!

    Thanks for the memories, Keli. Fun post!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Loree, let’s hear it for generous grandparents. A quarter’s worth of penny candy was a treasure trove.

      I’m not familiar with the flying saucer wafers. Did they go by another name perhaps? Or maybe they were regional? I’m a California gal, born and raised.

  8. Jessica R. Patch says:

    I remember loving those candies, but I didn’t know they were called penny candy. I loved Twizzlers and Chicklets gum. I don’t know if I spelled the gum right. I’d search my grandma out at church on Sundays, because I knew she had some. One was never enough! I also loved the Big League Chew and the jokes on Hubba Bubba bubble gum.

    Guess I liked gum. See the theme? LOL

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Jesse, I’ll admit to feeling my age. Penny candy was called penny candy because those of us who lived in the “good old days” could buy a piece of it for one cent. Talk about a deal. A kid who found a penny back then had reason to get excited because it could buy something good.

      I loved Chiclets. Those teensy little gum pieces were so cute. I used to see how few of them I could chew at once so I could make them last. It’s hard to find package of them today.

  9. candidkerry says:

    What a sweet post! 😉

    My sister and I did the same thing, except we road our bikes to a Handy Way store. I’ve always had a soft spot for Twizzlers and licorice sticks. I also loved Jolly Ranchers, Jawbreakers, and any kind of bubble gum. Definitely great memories!

    Speaking of..I better make my dental appointment… 😉

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Kerry, I like licorice, too. Red was my favorite, but I’d enjoy a strong black stick on occasion. My little store sold purple as well. My sisters and I liked to bite off each end of a licorice stick and drink milk though it like a straw. The things kids do for fun.

  10. bethkvogt says:

    Wow … penny candy. No such thing anymore.
    I always remember buying the Atomic Fireballs and trying to keep them in my mouth without spitting them out!
    Two fun memories: I had an aunt and uncle who owned a gas station/store combo in rural Vermont. We’d vacation there in the summer and they had–you guessed it– a penny candy counter. Oh, the joy! And then I had other relatives who owned a store in Colonial Beach, MD. Every few years they’d send our family a box full of penny candy. I remember the five kids sifting through for our favorites.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Beth, I’m glad you mentioned Atomic Fireballs. I was trying to remember what they were called. I liked “hot” candies: red hots, Jolly Rancher fire sticks, Hot Tamales, the cinnamon disks from Brach’s in the grocery store’s bulk section, and Atomic Fireballs.

      How cool that you had relatives who owned stores with penny candy counters. And a whole box of it. Wow! What a treat.

  11. I love smarties and sweetarts. As a kid, I had a close relationship with an older couple at our church. He always carried the little caramels in his pocket. I loved that!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Julie, what a nice thing to have older friends who meant so much to you. I’m sure receiving the caramels was fun, but no doubt you treasured the friendship most of all.

  12. Alica says:

    Jolly ranchers were one of my favs- and I think close to a penny a piece when I was a kid- I also bought a lot of Nerds.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Alica, I’m dating myself here, but Nerds weren’t around when I was a kid. I discovered them when my daughter was little, though. I love their clever, tilt-your-head-back-and-pour-’em-in boxes in bright fun colors.

  13. I remember liking Gobsters for a while there. Man, it’s been a while!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Eileen, maybe you can suck on some Gobsters while you’re reading The Doctor’s Lady.

      Note: Eileen won a copy of Hedlund’s book on my Wednesday 8/17 post.

  14. Sherrinda says:

    Mmmm, I remember Pixie sticks! Loved those!

  15. pocketfulofsunshine says:

    Pop rocks. Junior mints. Now, I’m strictly an M&Ms girl. I can take or leave most other kinds of candy. My biggest weakness is ice cream – I am incapable of turning that down.

  16. Julie Nilson says:

    I loved Sixlets too! Not many people remember those. When my daughter was 3, she got a tiny packet of Sixlets in her trick or treat bag, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I stole ’em. She wouldn’t have truly appreciated them anyway.

  17. Snow caps!! I loved them! I don’t think they were penny candy but we bought them cheap at the theater.

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