-By Emily Leto
One day when I was seven years old, my mother took my brother and I to this place called “Kids Cuts” to get our hair “trimmed.” The second I walked through those glass doors, my eyes immediately stumbled upon a clear glass jar that was encompassed with what had looked like a hundred of my favorite brand of lollipops, Dum-Dums, on top of the check-out counter. This made me excited. Normally, I hated, no dreaded getting my hair cut because the hairdresser would either cut it too short, cut one side shorter than the other, or I would be bored to death waiting for it all to be over. But, this time, I didn’t think about that stuff. My focus was glued to the jar of lollipops glistened like refracted light bouncing off of a Swarovski crystal, similar to the ones that are displayed in jewelry stores behind the lit up glass case.
As soon as the hairdresser lady was done with me, I didn’t give my hair a second thought. At this point, I didn’t care. What’s done is done. I couldn’t change it now. Patiently, I sat in the playing area, waiting for my brother to be done. After about twenty minutes, my brother came out with a bowl-shaped haircut. For some reason, I always thought he looked like a duck with that fluffy, almost white hair of his, especially with his pointy nose, long lips and small face. Anyway, as my mother paid for our haircuts, my eyes sparkled as I stared at the lollipop jar. One of the old women behind the counter saw me and spoke in a peevish manner, “You may take one. Make sure it is the one you want because you only get one chance.” There were other children standing behind me, waiting for their turn to take some candy.
At this age, I was about four feet and eleven inches tall, about eyelevel with the counter. My hand eagerly found its way into the jar as I stood on my tippy-toes. I struggled to reach my hand deep into the jar, battling against all of the unwanted flavors that lavished the jar, all of the flavors that were left over. Sitting there towards the bottom were two lollipop flavors that my brother and I wanted, blue raspberry and butterscotch. The second I saw them, I pushed aside the other lollipops until I had both of them in my hand, and then, I slowly pulled my hand out, making sure I was careful not to knock the jar onto the floor.
As I opened my hand, it became apparent that I won the battle. My brother’s eyes lit up, and he smiled happily as he snatched the blue raspberry lollipop from my hand. He quickly unwrapped and stuck the candy in his mouth appreciatively. I unwrapped mine without hesitation and put it in my mouth, stuffing the wrapper into my shorts’ pocket. That’s when this salty, bitter, and unpleasant taste punched me in the mouth, robbing and murdering the hint of the Bazooka bubble gum taste that still lingered in my taste buds from chewing it hours ago after eating a quick lunch at Chi-Chi’s. Without thinking and as a part of my gag reflex, I spit the lame excuse for a lollipop onto the wooden floor. “Ew! What the hell was that?” I shouted, feeling completely shocked and letdown. Butterscotch has never tasted like that before, as a matter a fact, none of the flavors tasted like that. Either those lollipops spoiled or the old witch poisoned them, so I thought.
The customers, not to mention my mother and the ladies behind the counter all glared at me. I could see the rage on my mother’s face. Her jaw tensed, her brows furrowed, her forehead wrinkled, and her hands rolled into fists. “Pick that up!” She barked. “You are in deep trouble when we get home, young lady! Wait till your father hears about this!” Her threat didn’t scare me because when it came to stuff like this, my father would laugh and lecture me in an amused tone.
Reluctantly, I picked up the disgusting lollipop and threw it into the trashcan that stood next to the door. Then, I reached into my pocket for the wrapper to see what flavor I ended up with. What I thought was butterscotch was actually a flavor I have never seen before. It was popcorn-flavored. I never even knew such a flavor existed.
It made me wonder though. Who was the bright one to say, “Hey, I have an idea; let’s make popcorn–flavored lollipops?” It’s so immoral to have a flavor that contaminates an entire bag of candy. You have all of these different fruit flavors, butterscotch, root-beer, bubble gum, cotton candy, chocolate, and a few other non-fruit flavors. Then, after all those flavors that make complete sense, there is popcorn. Ever since I was a child, I loved eating all sorts of candy. I was open to trying new things, mostly different kinds of candy, especially candy from foreign countries. These candies included a Japanese candy called Ramune, which is a soda candy that fizzles in your mouth, Mexican candy called Rockaleta, which are lollipops that taste of spicy chili and have gum in the middle, one that I didn’t like very much, and Germany’s fruit pulp jelly mix gummies that actually taste like real fruit but with a sweeter flavor. All these candies had been given to me by my mother because she knew how much I loved different cultures and their food, specifically candy. My mother also likes to experiment with different kinds of candy, and I think that is where I got the curiosity from.
Even though most of these candies are delicious, there still are a few that are not so good like those popcorn-flavored lollipops. I’m sorry, but to me, they are completely disgusting. I’d rather suck on those Mexican Rockaleta lollipops even though I am not a fan of chili or chili-flavored anything. They are still a hundred times better than the popcorn-flavored Dum-Dums though.
That flavor still haunts me to this day, and all I keep thinking is if some poor victim, like me, who greatly detests these popcorn-flavored Dum-Dums, but doesn’t know it yet, is given one of these and has such a horrible experience because of it. Or, better yet, if someone who detests these things sees a bag of lollipops or someone’s handing them out, they are most likely thinking, “Anything but the popcorn–flavored one. Please God, help me. I don’t care if I’m allergic to cherries, I’ll take the cherry one over the popcorn one any day. I don’t care if I die.” Once you get the popcorn-flavored one, though, you’re done! All that’s left to do is throw it away because no one will even think of trading with you. No one would dare to give up their perfectly normal-flavored lollipop for that, well, unless they were insane, that is. Another plausible scenario could be you get a mystery flavored one, and you are very happy because you like guessing what it is from the color you can barely see through the slightly transparent white wrapper. When you see the yellow-brownish tint, you know you’re in trouble. Surely, you will be thinking, “Please be butterscotch or root beer.” But, no, it’s popcorn. You thought you could escape its wrath by getting the mystery flavor, but no cigar.
Why couldn’t the Spangler candy company just make another fruit flavor like Kiwi? Better yet, get one of those “fireball” candies and just add the stick. How hard is that? The least they could do is put a warning label on the wrapper. “WARNING! May cause you to throw up!”
Despite the fact that I despise these flavored lollipops, there are many people that do not. Each flavor of Dum-Dums lollipops that are seen today have actually been voted in by the public, meaning the popcorn-flavored lollipop was voted in by fans like many other flavors. It just so happens that my taste buds reject the flavor, and there is no changing that just like how there are people who love it. It was only recently that I discovered that the popcorn flavor had been sent on “vacation” in 2001, and hasn’t returned since, but I am sure it will rear its ugly head again in the near future. I’m just glad that I don’t have to deal with it in the time being and can buy those huge bags of lollipops again. Before, I had been buying the one pound tub of the butterscotch-flavored lollipops from the Dum-Dums website, which got tiring after a while because I got sick of them since that was the only flavor in the tub.
The main point I am trying to make with my experience is not everyone has the same taste buds, which can definitely make certain flavors more appealing than others, meaning everyone is entitled to their own taste. I can hate this flavor as much as I want because of the horrible experience I had. At the same time, I am not trying to persuade the public against this flavor or tell those who love the flavor to ditch it. I just want to share my experience along with my reaction to it to give people a good laugh. Everybody’s taste buds are uniquely designed to fit their palate. Don’t let others tell you what you should or shouldn’t like. Your taste buds are your own, and like the saying goes, “To each his own.”
For any questions about Dum-Dums lollipops, information can be found at http://www.dumdumpops.com/.