Penny candy required patience

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Anybody out there remember BB Bats? How about Slo Poke All Day Suckers? If you remember these popular penny candies, you probably also remember that every General Store had a candy counter – a glass case that held the confectionary treasures that shaped the lives of millions of American kids back in the 1940s and 50s.

If you could scour up a nickel or a dime after school in those days, you could breeze into the store, sidle up to the candy counter, press your nose flat against the glass, and spend at least 10 minutes picking out the best selection for the money while the storekeeper patiently waited for your decision.

The Slo Poke was a big vanilla caramel sucker that would literally last all day. Of course, you always saved the wrapper just in case there was some left over at bedtime. Slo Pokes cost a whole nickel though, so we usually reserved those for special occasions – like when we had more than a dime to spend.

Most days we’d parcel out our pennies for the biggest variety we could muster. The storekeeper knew he had a good five minutes to do other things while we made up our minds before he had to count out our purchases.

“Gimme one of them, and two of them, and one of them,” was our usual chant as we singled out the penny and two-for-a-penny pieces. It was a tedious process and the storekeeper had the patience of Job.

Me, I always got BB Bats, small taffy suckers that sold for a penny. They came in four flavors: chocolate, strawberry, vanilla and banana. Banana was by far the best flavor and the best buy. I always got banana. A dime’s worth would last me for two days.

Or until I could scrape up another dime.


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