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Cornelius News

Hey, candy man, what’s your Top 10?

With apologies to Willy Wonka

MODERN DAD | By Jon Show

April 8. My love affair with gas station candy began with the Whatchamacallit. When I was learning to swim I would get one after swim lessons because I was a very brave little boy who jumped into his mother’s arms from the edge of the pool.

It was sometime in the late 70s or early 80s and the Whatchamacallit had just been introduced. There was an energy crisis. Crazy inflation. A resurgent Cold War. Times were unsettling, to say the least.

Thank goodness those days are behind us.

Anyhoo, my gas station candy love affair began with the Whatchamacallit but certainly didn’t end there. When your mother’s daily treat to herself is a candy bar, you end up eating a lot of candy, too.

So here are my top ten favorite gas station candy items, ranked:

Number 10. 100 Grand

The first slogan for the 100 Grand was, “Tastes so good it’s almost illegal!” I second that. I normally like an even ratio of ingredients but the caramel is the star of this yummy crunchy chocolatey goodness.

Each Halloween my kids – out of habit or duty, I don’t know – voluntarily strip their bags of all 100 Grand bars and lay them at my feet as if to present a tribute to their leader.

9. Heath/Skor

Is there any difference between the two? I have no idea. Toffee is delicious.

A Heath/Skor bar is the ultimate dad candy. If you were on a road trip in the fall of 1988 and stopped at a gas station on the way your grandparents house there was 100% chance that your dad was tossing a Heath/Skor bar on the counter with his pack of cigarettes.

8. Sour Skittles

I celebrate the full spectrum of sour candies, especially Sour Patch Kids (I like to eat them Swedish Style – one yellow sandwiched between two blues), but if you’re looking for the most amount of sourness per surface area then nothing generates more pucker than a Sour Skittle.

There’s so much sour flavor lacquered onto Sour Skittles that I’m not even sure if the different colors have flavors because I’ve never tasted anything but the sour.

7. Hot Tamales

Sugary. Cinnamony, Spicy. I think they were the first fruity candy that I ever loved.

Want to know if someone’s an alcoholic? Hand them a small box of Hot Tamales. If they say “this tastes like Fireball” instead of “this tastes like cinnamon” then they’re probably not drinking coffee out of that Yeti at the soccer field on Saturday mornings.

6. Twix

Twix is like one of those things in life that you loved – no lusted over – at an early age.

Then you grew older and found that there were other, perhaps better things out there. It didn’t make that first thing bad. It just made it not as good. But it still deserves a little reverence for the impact it had on your earlier life.

I know I’m taking this entire thing way too far but we’re in deep so let’s keep going.

5. Starburst

If you just thought “mambas are so much better than Starburst” then you need to check bougie attitude at the gas tank.

My favorite part about Starburst is that I’ve had different favorite flavors at varying points of my life. As a kid I only ate the pink, then only red and orange, and now I prefer the yellows.

With Easter approaching I’ll note that I would have included Cadbury’s Mini Eggs in the number five spot but it’s 2022 and I just can’t support seasonal products. If I can buy Christmas décor in July then I should be able to get mini eggs in November.

4. Reese’s

There is no better peanut butter on earth than the concoction that Reese’s jams inside that yummy cup of chocolate. It’s peanut butter and chocolate perfection.

I have a neighbor who works for Reese’s and sometimes I get to try test products out of blank white packages with paper labels on them. It’s as close as I’ll ever get to feeling like the illuminati.

3. Nerd Gummy Clusters

I love a Nerd rope. My oh my. The sour wonderfulness of a Nerd glued onto a foot long gummy worm? Sign. Me. Up. Nerds on their own were a top five candy and then the Nerds somehow found a way to improve themselves with the Nerd Gummy Clusters.

The challenging part about a Nerd rope is its size and delivery method. You have to hold it with two hands and slowly feed it into your mouth and risk shedding Nerds.

Not anymore. Nerd Gummy Clusters is just a Nerd Rope cut into bite size pieces. Genius.

You’ve outdone yourselves again Nerds. Kudos.

2. Take 5

Take 5 wasn’t my first love but it developed into one of my favorites. Pretzels. Chocolate. Peanut butter. So simple yet so unbelievably satisfying.

When I started working from home in 2010 there was gas station down the street that sold supersize Take 5 bars that contained five Take 5 bars in one package. For years I bought one package a week and ate all of it in less than an hour.

1. Whatchamacallit

I have an emotional connection to the Whatchamacallit. It’s everything you love about candy in one perfectly peanutty ratio of ingredients.

I can still remember the gas station where my mom used to stop near our home in rural Minnesota. She would park our cream colored VW Rabbit with a stick shift on the side of the building and run inside to get our candy.

On the ride home I’d sit on the center console and eat my candy bar, pausing only to change gears when she would slam the clutch and yell “SHIFT!”

But that’s a story for another day …

Jon Show lives in Robbins Park with his wife, who he calls “The Mother of Dragons.” Their 13-year-old son is “Future Man” and their 10-year-old daughter is “The Blonde Bomber.” Their dog is actually named Lightning.