Smeeks Writing Class Brings Back Candy-Coated Memories

Last night, I had the pleasure of joining a dozen other grown-up kids in a candy store. Smeeks, to be exact -- the super-cute shop in CenPho that everyone from Sunset magazine to Chow Bella has been raving about since it opened in July. (Here's our slideshow.)

I was there to lead a writing workshop, in which participants were placed in front of a tableful (and then a storeful) of candy and asked to write down their memories. It was one of the most delightful evenings I've had in a long while. (Though we did miss local journalist and New Times contributor Deborah Sussman Susser, who was supposed to co-teach but fell ill.) Participants ranged from the Light Rail Blogger to a stand-up comic, with other writers, artists and creative types in between.

Smeeks' Georganne Bryant (she also owns the neighboring boutique, Frances) and her staff created a sweet feast -- Bit o Honey, Mary Janes, red licorice, malted milk balls, gum dops, gumballs, even candy cigarettes and candy buttons -- and everyone at the table seemed to have an opinion (and a memory) to go along with each offering.

Funny, considering this was a seemingly upstanding group, that most of the memories seemed to focus on one thing: crime.   

We had a story about a tongue stuck to an ice cream cooler (a bit aprocryphal, perhaps?) and another about a father's quest to win his daughter a box of Toffifay chocolates. One woman had us rapt with tales of growing up in her grandparents' candy store in the Bronx, as she recalled precious details like the fact that the cash register consisted of an old cigar box.

Back to crime. Almost everyone had a childhood story about stealing candy -- some more intricate than others. One particularly vivid recollection ended with a Big Hunk sliding out the bottom of a pair of homemade jeans as the young theft fled a 7-11.

I hope Georganne checked her inventory before she went home last night!

All must be well, because we're offering the class again. There's already a waiting list, but if you are interested in paricipating in an upcoming workshop, call Smeeks at 602-279-0538 or email [email protected] 

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Amy Silverman is a two-time winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award. Her work has appeared on the radio show This American Life and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Lenny Letter, and Brain, Child. She’s the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies, and a commentator for KJZZ, the NPR affiliate in Phoenix. Silverman is the author of the book My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016). Follow her on Instagram (@amysilverman), Twitter (@amysilvermanaz), and at amy-silverman.com.