I suppose I’d be an influencer to be reckoned with in this world iof only I had developed a longer attention span at some point in my development. If I were willing to put more time into things, why, I might have followed my original passion, composing great music, and would now be so famous that people would have started calling me a has-been thirty years ago. But when someone looked at one of my early compositions, remarked that my staff had six lines instead of five, and suggested I look into how music was actually written, I decided to switch to something new. (Maybe that was my Lego phase, when I built one building over and over again because why…another loss for the world, this time in architecture.)
What has led me to this melancholy determination is the realization, when reading recently about Slo Poke candy was that I had not noticed the original Slo Poke—a long hunk of solid semihard caramel on a stick—was gone from the candy shelf, replaced by a new version, which is supposed to be the same thing, only without the stick. I realized shortly after that that I hadn’t noticed it missing because I hadn’t missed it.
Where I lived was more Sugar Daddy territory. The Sugar Daddy, a long hunk of solid semihard caramel on a stick, was very much in the commercials they pushed cartoons between on Saturday in my day because it was part of a family of products: Sugar Daddy, Sugar Mama, and Sugar Babies. I tried all of these at the time, and if you are familiar with these products at all, you may well guess that Sugar Babies, which I regard as one of nature’s perfect foods, are my favorite.
The Sugar Daddy came first, introduced in 1925, followed by the competing Slo Poke in 1926. (The Sugar Daddy NAME came along in 1932, when Sugar Babies were introduced. Before that is was known as, er, a Papa Sucker.) Both the Slo Poke and the Sugar Daddy appear with glowing reviews in all kinds of memoirs and nostalgia pieces. Their main attraction is suggested in the name of the Slo Poke: that caramel did NOT surrender easily and, if a kid was determined, could last a whole day. Our ancestors lived in an era when sugar in any form was rationed pretty carefully (see the column in this space about the folklore of stealing jam) and having all the caramel you could possibly want all day long was an intensely-felt luxury.
I grew up in a softer age, the despair of relatives who had gone through the Depression and the Second World War, and I had no time for such nonsense. Even had I been around in the Thirties, I would have preferred the smaller, more easily disposed-of Sugar Babies. What did you do with an all-day sucker if the impulse to play baseball came along? Shove the Sugar Daddy into a pocket and pry it free later? Where did you put it at lunchtime? Much better to take something you could chew, swallow, and dismiss from one’s list of responsibilities.
It isn’t that my tawdry era was devoid of long-lasting candy. We introduced, remember, the Sugar Mama, which was a Sugar Daddy with a chocolate coating. We had the Ring Pop, a long-lasting sucker which could be worn on the hand for easy reference. We pioneered the Astro Pop, a cone-shaped sucker with three stages of candy like a three-stage rocket (cherry, passionfruit, and pineapple, they tell me.) It isn’t as if EVERYBODY in my generation had the attention span of a fruitfly.
Nah, just me. I still prefer my caramel in the form of Rolo, or Sugar Babies or, if I can summon up the patience, Milk Duds (so named, by the way, because they kept coming out the wrong shape. But that’s a whole nother blog, and I don’t write a food blog.)