In 2000, the last year that we have any figures for, American children and young people under 18 devoured a little over two pounds of candy per capita, to the tune of over $16 billion dollars. And a whole lot of it was left in those emporiums that line our highways, where you can get everything from a new set of tires to a plate of eggs.
I was in one of those establishments recently, waiting for a table and inspecting
the gum. Ah, the pleasures of gum. Remember your first stick of spearmint or cinamon,
or your first chicklet (grandmothers always seemed to have a supply of those),
or good ol' pink bubble gum. No wonder Americans spent $1.5 billion dollars on
gum alone in 2000, according to the National Confectioners Associaiton, and kids
account for at least a third of that chewing. There's gum that comes in a sack
and is meant to look like nuggets of gold, and there's gum in the shape of crayolas
that dye your tongue the colors of the rainbow when you chew it. Gum comes packaged
in little paint cans, and in the shape of bandaids -- in strawberry, watermelon,
and grape flavors. You can buy a little dispenser of gum for about two dollars
that will keep a second-grader busy for most of the way from Billings to , spelling
out messages, like "Are We There Yet?" and then printing them up on
the six-foot spiral of apple-stinger gum that's rolled up into the plastic dispenser.
Flavored powders are big this year, too -- like the cauldron filled with magic
stuff that you dip a lollipop into, or the little alchemical mixer that blends
sweet colored granules together in a twisting mini-laboratory of plastic tubes,
that you can then dispense onto your waiting tongue. And then there are simply
plastic test tubes filled with "shock buds blasting powder." Strange.
But not as strange as the flavored waters you can blow edible bubbles from. But
back to the gum. Before they called our name for a table, I knew what I probably
would have asked my parents for if I was a kid hitting the road today: a "mega
foot," made of chewable, multi-colored gummi something, about a size six
or seven sole, toes and all, that you could chew on half way across country. Talk
about putting a foot in your mouth.
Copyright © 2002, John Cech
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Monday, 28-Oct-2002 21:04:08 EST