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Sweet Memories

Mishpacha Contributors

Back when we were the kids, candy was precious — it was love, comfort, adventure, companionship. Writers share their sugar-laced recollections

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

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utton Candy 

Rachael Lavon

Long rectangular sheets of paper, rows of colorful dots. Brought in from some magical place where frum people live, like Brooklyn. Or Monsey.

They sit in perfect order, each section one color, each color humming vibrantly. Although, sometimes the last row of one section blends just a bit with the section below, so blue and green turns to tie-dye aqua. Those are my favorite.

Once, I think, the Button Man must have been a child.

We find them in our cereal bowls on Shabbos morning. The paper is so long it drapes over the lip of my bowl and rests its head on the table as if taking a nap. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 580)

Torino Chocolates 

Esther Kurtz

I thought I had standards as a kid, particularly when it came to candy. I did not eat black or white jelly beans, I ate nothing banana or watermelon flavored, and if it was chocolate and pareve, I easily passed on it.

Standards are a funny thing, though. They’re always being tested, pushed, and often lowered. And once a year my pareve-chocolate rule went out the window, or rather, past my lips.

My grandmother is Hungarian, with all the stereotypes that come along with that, including the neat-freak aspect. She dressed her three children in all white, with white patent leather shoes that stayed pristine throughout the season. My mother reminisces about picking up the lint off the carpet floor before she left to school each day. We grandchildren could not wear shoes in her bedroom, and we definitely could not sit on her bed. Don’t worry, we thought it was normal. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 580)



Gila Arnold

It was a small package of colored sugar balls designed to break your teeth. The candy treats that had overnight become ubiquitous on the recess playground scene represented, to my first-grade self, nothing less than social success in a box.

Who was the first one to bring in that snack box of Jawbreakers? I don’t remember, but it was undoubtedly one of society’s magical elite who somehow know how to sniff out the up-and-coming fad, while the rest of us are busy playing hopscotch.

Before I even knew to join the throngs that had started forming around this society queen at recess time, hands outstretched beseechingly as she doled out candy to the favored few, these small candy boxes began popping up all around me. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 580)


Riki Goldstein

I’m officially too old for the men’s shul on Simchas Torah.


At first, I’d shrilly contested my brother’s claim. “It’s not even true.” How could it be? But then, Shemini Atzeres afternoon, my lower lip trembled at the door of the kitchen. I can hear their voices from the dining room, my yeshivish elder brothers, my father the Rosh Hakahal who always does what the rabbi says.

I can cry, I can scream, I can curl up in the big chair and sulk, but I know that if my father has said that I am too old, that I must stay up in the gallery with my mother, the verdict won’t change.

My anticipation of a wonderful night, standing on the blue carpet among the stomping feet and the waves of song, grabbing candies and taffies and lollies from generous hands, turns gray. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 580)

Candy Corn 

Leah Gebber

We still receive packages of candy corn from my beloved mother-in-law. She sends them from England, prevailing on friends and relatives to stuff them into their suitcases — tucked into the nooks of their shoes, rolled into shirts — when they travel to Israel. And then they turn up at our door, and we laugh as we reach into a bag and bring out the plastic package with the bright orange label, same one from 30 years ago. We rip open the package and pour the brightly colored cones into awaiting palms.

When I was a girl, candy corn was a yearly tradition, an integral part of our annual trip to the Whipsnade safari park. The highlight of the day was watching the killer whales. The large pool was at the center of an arena surrounded by stone steps. We’d sit in a semicircle, hoping and dreading the splash of briny water, and then the candy corns would appear. We’d bite them carefully, first the white tip, then the yellow, leaving the orange to melt on our tongues. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 580)

Dolly Balls 

Rochel Grunewald

Four sticky little balls, clutched in sweaty hands, were the highlight of our week.

Each Friday, little tables were rearranged in a big U, the tremendously important Shabbos Daddy and Shabbos Mummy were chosen, and we five-year-olds in the top class of kindergarten launched into a mock Shabbos meal.

Slices of store-bought challah turned into make-believe dough in a bizarre inverse operation, as we squeezed the soft whiteness into squidgy balls, delighted with the results. But the best was yet to come: Each week, dessert consisted of four precious dolly balls.

They came in pastel colors, pink and orange and yellow and green, and when you sucked, the color came off, revealing a sugar-white ball, sticky and sweet. They tasted of wannabe fruit and smelled of candy heaven. When the teacher opened that magical packet, we held out eager hands, counting to make sure we received our rightful amount, and traded and bargained with each other to get the colors just right. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 580)

Fruit Slice Jellies 

Faigy Peritzman

“So what can I bring you from America for Pesach?” My cousin’s voice sounded too chipper. I eyed the innards of my refrigerator, which were spread across my kitchen floor. “Some household help?”

“No, seriously. I’m only arriving Erev Yom Tov, so that’s not going to help. What would the kids like? Some nosh you can’t get there?”

“Nosh? Hmm. Now you’re talking. Something I can bribe them with!”

Over the years, more and more Pesach groceries have made it to the Israeli supermarkets, but the nosh department is still pretty sparse.

“You know what I’d love?” Inspiration hit. “You know those fruit candy slices? The kind that look like a slice of orange, in all different colors?”

“I don’t even know if they make those anymore,” my cousin said dubiously. “What about some good chocolate?”

“No, just those fruit slices. I loved them. Haven’t had them in years!”

I hung up the phone and attacked the refrigerator once more, humming under my breath. My fruit slices were coming. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 580)

Ice Cream 

Bracha Stein

I remember the golden sun slanting down on the lawn and the long, lazy afternoons spent sprawled on the grass that prickled your stomach. Most of all, I remember the heat so thick that even standing up would be too much effort.

And so we lay down while we read, while we played endless games of Spit, while we waited for women’s hours at the pool, while we bickered through our heat-induced boredom.

Sometimes, if we were lucky, we’d each get a freeze pop, a long translucent sleeve of pure neon happiness. And once or twice a summer, in the midst of the blazing, blinding heat, Savta would appear, a Pied Piper waving a key ring and beckoning us to the oversized chest freezer near the ping-pong tables. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 580)



Esty Heller

To this day, I don’t know what my mother had against gum. Unrefined? Bad for the teeth? Maybe it was her borderline obsessive cleanliness standards that put gum into the same category as Silly Putty, an absolute no-no in our house.

Three hundred and fifty-three days a year, gum was verboten. Ironically, my mother chewed gum all the time. Maybe she knew how to chew inconspicuously, or maybe her teeth were battle-hardened, and certainly, she wouldn’t get gum into her hair or clothes.

I’d goggle as her thumb pressed up on the plastic little tray and that shiny, white rectangle broke through the foil seal and popped out. Mommy blew the most amazing bubbles, the smell of mint studding the Elizabeth Arden fragrance that clung to her neck like the warmest hug. She promised me that when I’d be a mother, I’d be allowed to chew all the gum I wanted. But for now, it was strictly forbidden.

Once a year, the ban lifted. On Purim, Mommy let me have gum. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 580)

Chocolate Truffles 

Shana Reicher

Their father, my great-uncle, owned a chocolate factory. Like Willy Wonka. My cousins were the luckiest kids on the planet.

I went to see it once, the delightful mixing and merging of steaming vats, the wafting smells of citrus and berry and wine. The labyrinth of pipes and the squirting machine that filled glossy brown truffles with lip-licking ooziness. There was so much to see, but there I was, stroking my nose with a kind of wonder, as the awareness of smell, beautiful smell, seeped into my six-year-old consciousness. Finally a real explanation for the perplexing protrusion in the middle of my face.

Every evening, their father would bring home the chocolates that had gotten slightly dented in the day’s run. They were still perfect to us. Chocolate always is. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 580)

Laffy Taffy 

Faigy Schonfeld

I want to say it was blue like the sky, like a baby blanket, like the ocean, but it was blue as in junk-food-coloring-bad blue.

But still, they were long, chewy ropes of candy heaven, my blue Laffy Taffys, the kind that melt in your mouth and leave bits of yummy goo crystallizing on the back of your tongue.

The tang of new girl, strange spaces, painful self-awareness wherever I went… it blurred, lost its sharp flavor in a classroom full of happy faces, where fresh memories were giggled, drawn, and whispered into existence by the hour.

But it took two years and a best friend of my own for the newness to fully dissolve. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 580)

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