Do you remember penny candy?
When I was a small kid, I spent most of my allowance on those cheap, little wax-wrapped jewels that stuck to my teeth and had an aftertaste of bad decisions. As a parent, I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to convince my kids that sugar bugs will eat their beautiful teeth if they keep pounding back the sugar, but they insist, and I occasionally relent.
My kids are no strangers to s’mores and root beer floats, which got me thinking about childhood sweet treats that I tried when I was little. Some of them were childhood givens, such as Fruit Loops, but others were tied to my Maine heritage. As unpleasant as I may find these, my kids will have to try all seven of these gross sweets if they want to taste the same concoctions as recent Maine generations have.
OK, let’s get one thing clear right off the bat. Moxie is gross. It is also not even from Maine (as it was first made in Lowell, Massachusetts), so why do we torture ourselves with this stuff? Some genius tried adding ice cream to it in hopes of dressing it up as the #klassy version of a rootbeer float, but it didn’t work. It’s horrible.
Potato Candy aka Needhams
I suppose it was inevitable that someone from Maine would find a way to use up every bit of potato. Needhams are what happens when you have leftover mashed potatoes and ambitions to be on Masterchef. No. Just. No.
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Convenience store fudge
Confession: I secretly love this stuff. So why is it gross? Because no one knows who made it or with what standards of hygiene. We’re talking about handmade fudge that is precariously wrapped in Saran wrap and then left to sit on a counter … until it is sold … which could be forever.
Plastic tube popsicles
If ever there was a gateway drug it would be this. Clear plastic tubes of straight industrial sugar dyed with bright rainbow colors. I would suck these down until my teeth turned blue. Then I had the energy of a linebacker and would run around driving my poor mother crazy. This is where sugar highs come from.
Tapioca is lumpy pudding that has the texture of a hocked loogie with a bag of confectioners sugar mixed in. It requires almost no culinary skill whatsoever. However, it does call for a complete lack of willpower to voluntarily ingest. Unless you are a kid and someone tells you it’s ogre boogers, then suddenly this is a whimsical snack treat.
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Bugs in candy
This is a thing, people. Who eats bugs?! Children, tourists, and the BDN staff do, apparently.
If you cook down molasses, you will get chewy candies that sound like a great idea but that taste like burned tires. Slapping the words “artisanal” or “rustic” or “gourmet” will not help this confection. If most delicacies are an acquired taste, then molasses chews are an extra special treat for the most discerning Maine palate.
What is the grossest Maine treat you’ve ever had?