Penny Candy

June 29, 2007

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Remember when you could fill a bag with candy for a quarter and it would last all weekend long? I do. Well, almost all weekend anyway. When I was a kid my parents would drop me at my Gramma’s house on Friday evening. I’m not quite sure where the quarter came from, but after breakfast on Saturday morning I got to walk all the way down the gravel road along the lake to spend it. By myself.

There was a little store, not much bigger than our garage. I think there were Sinclair gas pumps out front, and I vaguely remember them selling minnows and other forms of bait somewhere nearby. It had a cement floor and a wooden screen door that would spring closed with a slam. Right inside the door to the left was a huge glass case filled with penny candy. Kids were not allowed to put their hands on the glass.

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Some of the candy really only cost a penny, but other pieces were a little more. Sometimes you could get three or four pieces for a penny, but they were usually ones I was not particularly fond of, like Mary Janes. I agonized over my choices, and they would place them one by one in a paper sack. Having parted with my quarter I would make my way back to Gramma’s. Sometimes I would stop and visit Mrs. Wolforth or Aunt Helen. Once in awhile I would scare myself walking past the woods and just go straight home. Fast.

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The hard part was eating only a little at a time…that is unless it was sunny and the water was warm! Then the candy could wait…

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32 Responses to “Penny Candy”

  1. mjd Says:

    I remember penny candy. In Fort Wayne, Lapp’s Drugstore, which was about four blocks from our house, sold penny candy. (The drugstore also had a soda fountain.) For some reason, I remember funny candy hats similar to the consistency of today’s gummi bears. Did you ever have Jujubes, the candy the tasted like soap?

  2. gawilli Says:

    Yes, I remember Jujubes! Do you remember Chuckles?

  3. her indoors Says:

    love the old photo. we had blackjacks, fruitsalad, shrimps, parmviolets, drumsticks, mice oh i do so remember all the lovely treats we had.

  4. Michele Says:

    Oh, I remember those days. 25cents went a long ways. Going into those little corner stores that had all those jars and jars lined up on the counters and boxes of sweets along the shelves for just pennies. Great post!

  5. gawilli Says:

    Her Indoors – I Googled your candies and though the names a different, they are similar to some of the ones I brought home. Good stuff!

    Michele – A quarter use to go a long way – especially to a little kid!

  6. meeyauw Says:

    During the Fourth of July parade here, everyone in each float tosses out candy to all the kids. You have to take a grocery bag to collect it! And the candy looks just like in your photo.

  7. Mark Says:

    Now it would cost a small fortune, but still worth it.

    Cheers Mark

  8. JC Says:

    Great post… we had a similar store in our neighborhood when I was a youngster. Brought back some fine memories!

  9. tod Says:

    I remember all those fabulous jars lined up on the shelves. And there was always an old lady behind the counter to tip their contents onto the scales.

  10. gawilli Says:

    Meeyauw – They do that here too, but it usually is a bunch of hard candy. I bet the kids take it home and the moms throw it out.

    Mark – This bag full was about $15.00. I’m going to take it to work and leave it in the Break Room. It will be gone in no time.

    JC – Your picture for the Hunt really did look like penny candy.

    Tod – I had forgotten that some it had to be weighed, but you are right.

  11. Kimo & Sabi Says:

    We gots a new sweet shop in our town recently – yummy!

  12. mjd Says:

    I loved Chuckles except the black ones. Jujy Fruits and Necco Wafers are other old-time candies.

  13. gawilli Says:

    Mjd – Neccos are the best! I bought a roll for the picture, but it didn’t make it in. The chocolate ones were my favorite and now you can buy a whole roll that is just that. Go figure.

  14. mjd Says:

    Chocolate ones are the best. I never liked licorice of any kind. I think that I remember licorice Neccos. Daddy D always gets my licorice-flavored candies. Occasionally, I might share some of the better flavors too.

  15. corky Says:

    I loved candy smokes. They were the best.

  16. nessa Says:

    I love all of your old photographs. They bring back such fond memories. In a town I worked in when my daughter was young, they still sold penny candy. She remembers it fondly too.

  17. dilling Says:

    Lemon heads…yummmmmmie.
    Looking at that photo reminded me of an article I just very recently read about candy cigarettes and the marketing of cigarettes to children…and that in turn reminded me of one chilly, frosty morning when my best girlfriend and I got called to the principal’s office because he saw us smoking on our way to school. We were six, eating/puffing on candy cigarettes and our breathe was visible as “clouds of smoke.” I don’t know if it was the candy cigarettes or the example set by our parents that turned us into teenage smokers BUT if that principal had caught us then!!! HOOO LORDY, we’d have quit on the spot.

  18. Big John Says:

    When I was a kid sweets (candy) were rationed and a rare treat. When rationing ended in Britain we children went mad and stuffed ourselves stupid. The photo shows sweet cigarettes, my favourite.

  19. Lloyd Rochambeau Says:

    I well remember Penny Candy. In fact I remember candy that may have cost two cents that was called “Guess What”.
    It had a piece or two of candy and a prize, similar to a Cracker Jack prize. It was wrapped togetherand looked something like a tamale.
    Does anyone else remember the Guess What?

    • Elizabeth Says:

      My Dad, who was born in 1933 and grew up in Lexington, KY told us about Guess What candy. H said he couldn’t find anyone else who remembered it, not even his siblings. I knew I could probably find a reference to it on the Internet, but this is the only reference I’ve found. I wonder what company made it?

      • Dorothy Says:

        I was born 1934 and grew up in KS and I remember Guess Whats. I recall cost 2 cents and were just small piece of candy or two with a prize and were rolled together into a piece of pastel paper sort of like thin construction paper with the ends folded in to hold them. I have never met anyone else who remembered them. Fond memories.

      • Roger Williams Says:

        I was born in 1938 in Lewistown, Ohio. It was a very small town with 1 or 2 stores. I remember getting a Guess What on occasion during the early 40″s. Although they only cost 2 cents, my brother and I didn’t get them very often. Next to Cracker Jacks, they were my favorite due the prize inside. The only prize I can recall was a tiny bow and arrow about 1/2 inch long. Sadly, they have gone the way of the Burma Shave signs.

  20. ashley mendez Says:

    holy shit that is cool

  21. STEVE T Says:

    I was born in ’66…so, by the time I was about 7 or 8 yrs. old, my Mom would send me to the local “Variety” store, called “Faria’s” (owned by a Portuguese family, the Faria’s) with a WHOLE dollar to buy her a pack of cigarettes. She would let me go alone, as it was only a few blocks. She would let me spend the change, which would be about .35 cents, if i remember correctly. I had to bring a note allowing me to buy the cigarettes..(Mrs. Faria was way ahead of the “not selling cigarettes to minors movement”…and then would agonize over what 35 pieces of penny candy to buy. I’d always start with about 5 RED FISH, then 2 or 3 squirrel nuts, Mary Janes, Mexican Hats, Choco-Babies, flying saucers (wafer UFO filled with sprinkles), carmel creames, peanut logs, and, if I felt like splurging, a .10 cent “candy lipstick” or “candy cigarettes” that blew powdered sugar smoke….then there was the bubble gum cigars….with a real cigar band! This was 35 years ago, and I remember it like it was yesterday…right down to the little brown paper bag Mrs. Faria would put it all in. She knew us all by name and was so nice….like a grandma. I enjoyed this sight and the great memories it brought back…

  22. STEVE T Says:

    P.S. I forgot to mention, I grew up in Fairhaven, MA, on Sconticut Neck….that’s where Faria’s variety store was…

  23. c. Boesch Says:

    Does anyone else remember a candy in the 1950s that was a clear straw filled with colored candy pellets (similar to what they sell now to decorate cakes and cookies, only bigger)? Attached, to the top was a plastic toy; I remember rakes and shovels. They were like Cracker Jack toys, only bigger. I’d love to know what those things were called or who made them.

  24. Sheri Shields Says:

    Before being drafted into WWII my moms uncles would bring them grocery bags full of Guess Whats(a penny a piece in their small N. CA town). It was three or four pieces of taffy and a trinket wrapped in pastel & brown paper. She remembers little plastic & metal animals, they attached them to their sailor hat, which they wore everytime they saw trains with serviceman go by!

  25. Frank Says:

    Yes, I remember some of the ‘Guess What’ prizes. Weird little things like a tiny, pill like, prize that was supposed to grow into a flower when put into a glass of water. Prizes came from Japan in the early thirties. They were a penny and the candy was similar to a Tootsie roll.


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  28. Jim Gilbert Says:

    Enter your comment here…Sure! I remember Guess Whats very well! – think 1935 – Raton, New Mexico, I was 6 years old – in first grade with the dreaded nuns. On occasion I had to spend the night at their boarding school as my parents had to be out of town. My great refuge from loneliness was the little candy stand on “campus”. For one penny you could get a real thrill – the famed Guess What – candy and an unknown prize – unknown before and sometimes unknown as to its use after opening it. The prizes were made in Japan – of a variety that made the sale worthwhile – candy did not vary but the prizes ranged from little pieces of collectible tin miniatures, little puzzles and my favorite – the thumb cuff – a cylinder made of bamboo weaves open on both ends which once ones two thumbs were inserted into defied escape – tugging only made the task impossible. To my great delight I eventually solved the problem – relax and escape was a snap – great life lesson at a very early age.
    For a really special adventure for the same precious penny, but without the candy bit (well worth it —at times), was a piece of paper some 3″X4″ which consisted of 4 race horses (view from above) lined up behind a starter line followed by 4 lines each about 1/8″ wide that led to the “finish” line – I assume these lines were composed of phosphorous – the starter line was then ignited (how a 6 year old was able to manage that feat is now lost to the universal memory bank) and OFF and RUNNING the “horses” flew!. The excitement of rooting for and then seeing a winner and even more so having selected the winning horse occulted for that brief moment, all the loneliness that could possibly have existed in all of Raton, New Mexico in 1935.
    Jim

  29. Pat Says:

    I was born in 1937 and was wondering if anyone remembered Guess Whats so began searching and found this blog. They were one of my favorites because of the prize, but to be honest, I don’t remember what kind of candy! Many good memories trying to decide how to spend a few pennies.


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