My own sweet story retold

I coveted my share of toys at this time of year when I was a kid.
When the Eaton’s Christmas catalogue arrived in the mail, I crawled into our deep, comfy (a.k.a. worn out) living-room chair and made a mental list of all the things in that catalogue that would make my life complete.
First I flipped through the pages with a fury to take it all in, then I turned the pages slowly—savouring the sights and dog-earing the pages with the best stuff.
The “Secret Sam” spy kit was on my list of absolute necessities when I was 10. I wrote a rather pleading letter to Santa. That’s right. Age 10–still believed in the big red man (I think maybe I still do).
But despite my pleading, I didn’t get a “Secret Sam,” but Duane did and he let me play.
I desperately wanted the “Incredible Edibles” with the digestible glop that cooked up spiders and wiggly things that could be eaten—not the best idea from R&D for the Mattel toy manufacturers.
In fact, it was downright disgusting. My friend, Kathy, had one complete with the trademark Gobble De-Goop that almost turned me off candy. Almost.
I wanted a guitar and a flashlight for covert nighttime reading under my covers. I wanted twin holster cap guns when I apparently was too old for wanting such things.
I wanted a lariat so I could lasso fence posts from my pony as we galloped past. I wanted my very own hammer, which my dad gave me (along with my own tool belt) for when he and I fixed fences.
That was one of the best gifts ever because it officially certified me as his “hired man”—a title I wore with great pride and a straight back while I tried to perfect my I-can-do-anything posture.
I used to count the number of strikes it took for me to drive in a nail. Suffice to say, a lot.
As I look back over all the wanting and hoping for and list-making, the one thing that really sticks out that I never actually was successful in receiving was a book of “Life Savers, The Sweet Story Book.”
I wanted the whole book, the complete set, a dozen rolls of Life Savers, but alas, none for me. Probably a good thing. I would have saved them, admiring them, never eating them and they would have gone off.
Do Life Savers have a shelf life?
My favourites were Butter Rum, Wild Cherry, and the famous Five-Flavour. The Five-Flavour roll came out in 1935 and remained unchanged for almost 70 years.
Wow! The candy guy knew better than to mess with a good thing of pineapple, lime, orange, cherry, and lemon; orange being my favourite.
Clarence Crane was a chocolate-maker in the U.S. He had a hard time selling chocolate in the summer, so he decided to make a peppermint candy. He was in a drugstore buying flavour when he noticed the druggist making pills by hand, producing round shapes.
So Mr. Crane looked no further and in 1912, he came out with his first Life Saver, the Pep-O-Mint, and candy connoisseurs jumped on board. He sold the company the next year to Edward Noble for $2,900.
The story goes that during World War II, candy manufacturers worked out a plan to share sugar rations so that Life Savers could stay in production to be shared with those away at war to remind them of home.
I never got a “Life-Saver Book” at Christmas. Maybe I’ll slip a “Sweet Story Book” into my stocking this Christmas.
Is that cheating? I don’t think Santa will mind.
wendistewart@live.ca

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