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4 Rare Retro Candies

Some childhood candies could be found at every grocery store checkout or stuffed into the ever present vending machines at the entrances and exits. But then there were those sugary delights that could only be found at specialty shops like party supply stores or the occasional visit from the Ice Cream Man. These were the treats we dreamed about and couldn’t wait to find. Let’s think back on a few of the best “Rare Candies” of years gone by.


Appearing in the same sized packaging as the super-sour Warheads of the 90’s, Zotz were never quite as accessible on store shelves, possibly due to the fact that they were sold in cumbersome strips of connected packages. Not only did their obscure nature make them precious, but their special feature was right up there with Pop Rocks for creating mouth magic we just couldn’t live without. When you first popped a Zotz candy in your mouth it appeared to be nothing more than a pleasant hard candy, but as soon as you bit into it (or the hard shell slowly dissolved in your mouth) the real fun began.

Zotz contained more than just a sugary filling, found within was malic and tartaric acids mixed with sodium bicarbonate. It was basically the better tasting equivalent of pouring baking soda and vinegar into your mouth, creating a fizzing and bubbling sensation that was truly exciting. I can only remember finding these mouth-bound chemistry sets once or twice in my youth, usually at a local 7-Eleven that stocked some more unique items, but they left a lasting impression.


Lemonheads Spin-Offs

Everybody has seen Lemonheads. Big boxes of these little yellow balls were found in the candy aisles of most drug stores back in the day, but the spin-off candies from the same manufacturer always seemed to be hard to come by. I could only ever get them in the “Snack Shack” of a community park I used to frequent after school. To me this scarcity was surprising because the marketing folks really found very creative ways to sell us on their grape, cherry and apple flavors through uniquely designed mascot characters.

First you had the very un-politically correct Cherry Clan featuring little red candies with stereotypical Chinese hats. Offensive, yes, but also unforgettable. Johnny Apple Treats took the classic look of the mythic Johnny Appleseed and turned his face into a Red Delicious, which is odd because the treats themselves were actually Green apple colored and flavored. Then you had Alexander The Grape, who was totally infringing on the Otter Pops character of the same name, while looking like Marvin the Martian’s violet tinted cousin. Then the most elusive of all, Mr. Melon, happily shilling his watermelon flavor candy, that sadly Jolly Rancher had the market cornered on. Unfortunately, these characters are all but gone in the current incarnation, with each flavor simply adding “-heads” to the title. Boooooriiiing.


Molded Lollipops

Tootsie Pops were always king in my book, but that’s mainly because they were the default prize for any achievement in school or church activities. And while the pursuit of the star wrapper was fun, I was always on the lookout for suckers with a little bit more artistry involved. There was a style of lollipop which truly fascinated me, but that I only ever saw for sale at highway adjacent gas stations we would stop at for bathroom breaks on summer road trips with my family.

The most common shape I remember seeing was Garfield and Odie or a human thumb. They were always covered in a rubber mold, which I assume is the same mold they were created in, which you would then peel off to get to the sweet, translucent candy within. My young mind also figured that the rubber cover could be used to preserve your sucker for later, if you weren’t able to finish it in a single sitting. This never really worked out though, because by the time I got back to my treat the sticky surface was covered in lint and other car seat junk. Kids aren’t very careful with their possessions after all.


Melody Pops

There were several brands of these lollipops that were hollowed out to create a whistle, but I only seemed to encounter them on occasional trips to stationary stores with my Mom. The main gimmick was the little plastic rod in the stick, which you could pull out to theoretically create different notes. This wasn’t a popular snack on the playground, like Now and Laters, but every once and a while a classmate would show up trying to dazzle us with their music making abilities. Usually this continued into class time and the Melody Pop was confiscated.

I remember liking the concept, but wishing that they were the real life version of the candy from the Disney film, Bedknobs and Broomsticks that Professor Emilius Browne used to make bird sounds. You know what I’m talking about right? A candy that is also a toy sounds like a good idea, but there was often conflict in my young mind as to whether I wanted to eat it or learn to play a simplified version of “Aqualung” by Jethro Tull.


The good news is, most of these candies are still being produced and though my candy consumption has gone down over the years, I take comfort in the fact that I can just stop by the local mall candy shop to get my fix or find ‘em online. So tell me, what are some of the candy items you were always searching for? Was there a regional brand you craved?

Be sweet and Tweet some comments my way @hojukoolander on Twitter.

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Ilectra Posted on Oct 23, 2015 at 07:06 PM

The pop that looked like a toe, though I think was a thumb was a childhood staple for me that id completely forgotten about. Thanks for the memory boost. as a kid it never bothered me how much that thing looked like a toe.

onipar Posted on Oct 15, 2015 at 01:48 PM

Most of those I've never heard of, but there are a couple there that I used to get and haven't thought about in YEARS! I actually used to get lemon heads all the time from my ice cream truck, and occasionally would get the melon one and the apple one. They were definitely rarer. I'm not sure I ever had the melody pop with a moving stick, but I definitely had whistle pops!

massreality Posted on Oct 15, 2015 at 01:47 AM

I forgot all about those nasty molded lollipops. They always looked so cool and then tasted so bad!

Zots are making a comeback. I had my first Zot about a year ago at a local Rocket Fizz. Now, our Dollar General sells them by the bagful. I'll pick up a bag ever now and then. I actually got some just a couple weeks ago.

NLogan Posted on Oct 08, 2015 at 09:29 PM

I loved the cheap but well worth it offerings of the Ferrara Pan company. Now-a-days all of the Ferrara Pan fruit candies have changed names: Johnny Apple treats to Appleheads, Alexander the Grape to Grapeheads, Mr. Melon to Melonheads, Cherry Clan to Cherryheads; with the exception of Lemonheads and the new Orangeheads. If you think Cherry Clan was bad you should have seen it before when it was Cherry Chan. But it did have some cool pulp fiction action mystery like art work.

Vaporman87 Posted on Oct 08, 2015 at 06:09 PM

I can't think of any candies that I loved that I ever had a difficult time finding, except for one: Mallo Cups. I've sung their praises before in the forum, but truth is they were very hard to find growing up. Nowadays they are luckily easily attainable at our local gas station, but other than that they can be tricky to locate even today.

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