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  • Writer's pictureTodd Stevens


We didn’t get many sweet treats when I was a kid growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. My mom baked cookies, pies, cakes, and my favorite thing of all, brownies. But even those kinds of sugary snacks were rare, usually reserved for a birthday, or holiday, or for entertaining visitors. Candy, chocolate, or anything else made of sugar was not something we had just laying around the house to snack on, neither was soda or juice. “You want something for dessert, there are canned peaches and cherries in the cellar,” was my mom’s standard response when we wanted something sweet. My sister Shannon and I were absolute sugar addicts, we schemed and plotted any time there was something sweet in the house. In those days Tupperware parties were a big deal, and mom hosted her share of them. Shannon and I would be sent to bed audaciously early on those nights, so we wouldn’t be annoying the living hell out of the party goers. We would sneak into each other’s room and painstakingly ease the door open just a tiny crack. Then we’d watch as a serving tray of assorted donuts or swirly, chocolate bundt cake was slowly but surely devoured by the Tupperware ladies. Sometimes, at the end of the party there were a couple pieces left, mostly because nobody wanted to be the hog to clean the plate. Shannon and I would stare at those leftover morsels, our eyes savagely plotting how we were going to sneak them. Whenever we went to visit other people that had candy on the table, (usually in one of those amber dishes that looked like an over sized ashtray) my dad would say, “Now when we get in there, don’t hover around the candy dishes like you’ve been starved. Just take a piece occasionally, don’t be pigs about it.” There was the problem…what did ‘occasionally’ mean? Was my ‘occasionally’ different from his occasionally? So we’d go in and sit on the couch, both of us with a hypnotic stare directed at the candy dish, weighing when the next time we could grab a piece of candy would be…and if that would be considered ‘occasionally.’ If our occasional candy grabs started coming too frequently, dad would give us a look, and we knew what that look meant. Stop now if you want to live. One time we ate at a restaurant, which we rarely, rarely did. When the meal was done the waitress brought out a huge jar filled with assorted candy. We were each allowed to take one piece. When it was my turn to make a selection, I snaked my hand clear down to the elbow in the jar to reach a big, purple, foil colored chocolate candy. I thought mom and dad were going to die of embarrassment, but I got it…and it sucked, marshmallow, not chocolate. Every Easter mom and dad (the Easter bunny) hid candy eggs around the house, and we had an absolute ball finding them. The eggs they hid were brightly colored, purple, yellow, green etc. They had a hard, compressed sugar shell, and were filled with a softer white sugar center. They weren’t flavored like anything, they were simply sweet and that’s it. We loved finding them, but they weren’t our favorites to eat. We’d put them in a bowl and stick them into a little cabinet in our coffee table and forget about them…until we became desperate for sugar. Then we’d dig them out, sometimes months later, and start working on them in little bites until they were all gone. They were disgusting, but they were sugar. We did many other things to satiate our sugar desire too. We dipped carrots, moistened with saliva, into a bowl of sugar and ate them sweetened, we buttered soda crackers so sugar would stick, then sprinkled it on them. We took our long ago chewed out, flavorless gum, flattened it, and dumped sugar on it, then re-chewed it. My sisters used to mix peanut butter and powdered sugar, form balls from it, and that was a snack. After they ate those peanut butter balls their breath would reek, and I would tell my sister Shannon, “Get away from me, shit breath.” I wasn’t a nice brother…at all. When we got old enough to work, the sugar addiction continued. Shannon would buy a can of Shasta black cherry soda, and a box of red hots. She could never drink a whole soda, so it was always half flat with a little piece of plastic covering the hole in the top of the can, and absolutely covered with a red sticky sheen of melted red hot sugar all over it. She would sit in the cubby under a desk that was in our kitchen like a mouse, nibbling away on her candy and sipping her flat soda, Becky next to her getting a few scraps. I used a good portion of my work money on candy and soda too. I remember regularly buying 5 candy bars for a buck, two 16 oz glass bottles of Mountain Dew, a bag of penny candy, and a pack of Kools. I’d walk over to the park, which had a table in the southeastern corner that was protected almost all the way around by lilac bushes. I would sit on that table, my feet on the bench, and I would eat and drink all of that candy and soda… Then I’d smoke 2 or 3 cigarettes end to end, put the cigarettes in my sock and walk home, my stomach no worse for the wear. I still enjoy a sweet treat here and there, but nothing like the good old days.

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