How Sweet It Is

I asked Sheets if the Amurol brain trust had ever come up with anything that simply went too far.

"We had a product years ago, I can't remember the name of it, but it was along the lines of those liquid-filled gums that were popular. We had it in a small package, almost like you would get ketchup in at McDonald's. Kids would buy these and smash them with their feet, and the liquid would go shooting out. We pulled that off the market because, literally, they weren't eating the product; they were using it as a projectile."

But a company called Creative Confection really has the gross market cornered, as Elaine Nicolette, secretary and relative of president Steve Nicolette--it's a family business--indicated with pride.

"We have a six-inch-long pickle. It's dillflavored bubblegum. It's called Pickle Puss. We have a banana filled with gum, we have a watermelon filled with gum, wehave a pickle whistle and we have thePower Prism--it's a kaleidoscope filled with jawbreakers. And we have the Bubble Brain; it's a human brain filled with gum. It doubles as a bank when it's through being a toy. We had something called Screaming Saucers, which turned your tongue navy blue for about six hours."

Unlike the somewhat tame PR rap thatGary Sheets laid on me, Elaine--whogladly offers that she doesn't eat whather company makes--tells it like it is:

"There's nothing too gross in this business."

So I bundled up my candy and found some kids. Which, if viewed the wrong way, would possibly get me arrested, but this was nothing like that. These kids were the next-door neighbors of a friend, and more than happy to lend honest, concise opinions. We have Megan Alire, 9; her brother Alex, 5; and their cousin Ryan, 9.

I'm no Art Linkletter, so I'll keep this to the point. We began with ...
Megan: "I would eat this. It looks good."
Alex [eating Snot]: "Mmmm. It's good. I love it."
Bubble Tongue:
Alex: "It's scary."
Ryan: "The powder gum tastes weird."
Sports Bottle versus Snot:
Alex: "Snot is much better. I love the flavor of it."
Bungee Bubble:
Ryan: "It's weird that it squeezes, and it's gum."
Alex: "I like stickable gum."
Lava Lick:
Me: "Do you know what a lava lamp is?"
Megan: "We saw one on Real Monsters on Nickelodeon.
This one is much cherrier than the Sports Bottle."
Alex: "I like candy a lot."
And so on.

The astute marketing minds at our nation's great novelty-candy companies certainly know their audience. The kids and I spent an hour squeezing stuff onto fingers, chewing wad after wad of Day-Glo-colored gum, unwrapping, spitting out, agreeing, disagreeing, debating merits heatedly, repeating the process again and again. But after all of the exciting, cool/disgusting stuff had been eaten, I whipped out my own personal generational litmus test. Surely, if one candy could bring us together, unite us in sweet tooth, it would be this:

Pez.
I just happened to have a Mickey Mouse dispenser, stocked with grape.
Me: "Have you had these before?"
Megan: "Who hasn't?"
Ryan: "Oh, we've had that."
Me: "You think Pez is boring or something?"
Ryan: "I think it's good, but after you've seen it ..."
--Gilstrap

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