Candy-crazy in a sugared culture
Ive been trying to figure out when candy went bad. Not just a sweet confection anymore, candy is associated with everything from creepy orange-faced chocolate factory workers to sexually charged song lyrics.As I think about the five-letter words place in society, visions of nightmare-inducing Oompa-Loompas dance through my head and 50 Cent suggestively raps about the Candy Shop (when we all know what he really means). What happened to good old-fashioned candy, when it really was just a sweet treat for nice little girls and boys?When my grandpa was a tyke, candy was a red-and-white-striped sugar cane that went for one cent at the downtown five-and-dime. When my mom was a girl, candy was chewy pink bubble gum in Bazooka wrappers with funny riddles.Maybe it was the 70s, when tobacco companies are said to have targeted the nations youth in their marketing plans, that candy started to mature. At an early age, I remember only the cool kids were play-smoking candy cigarettes and rolling mini replica Winston boxes up in their T-shirt sleeves. Of course that was the same decade Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was released and the whole Oompa-Loompa creepiness entered in my subconscious.Candy in the 80s seemed to have redeemed itself with those cute, chewy gummy bears, fashionable-yet-edible and multi-colored necklaces, and ring pops. But, confections had their reckless moments with Now and Laters that could loosen a filling faster than gum tangles in a first-grade girls hair and Pop Rocks rumored to make stomachs explode. By 2000, candy had become extreme and too sour to eat without gagging and making absurd faces while on that vulnerable first date at the movies. In the last five years, candy has become the theme for sexual innuendo in the music industry (nevermind Def Leppards hit 80s song Pour Some Sugar On Me … Im hot, sticky sweet, from my head to my feet. Yikes!) Listening to songs such as Sex and Candy and Candy Shop, I can half-way understand Tipper Gore and her freedom-threatening warning stickers. Fiddy just had to go there with the melt in your mouth, not in your hands M&Ms jingle reference, didnt he?Actually, candy isnt all that bad, and isnt always the code word for intercourse. My childhood favorites Pez, Junior Mints, Nerds, Hersheys Chocolate Kisses, Sweet Tarts and Jolly Ranchers still rock the candy aisle. And Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, rated PG, has drawn millions of kids and parents who still believe in the magic of Wonka to theaters nationwide since opening last week.Maybe candy is as sweet as it was intended after all.To their mothers dismay, April E. Clark and her best friend from grade school would often chomp down on two green apple Jolly Ranchers so their teeth would stick together. They would see who could go without talking longer, but that usually didnt last but a minute. She can be reached at 945-8515 ext. 518 and email@example.com
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