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25 June 2007 @ 16:12
The first sweets I remember are Lifesavers. Butter Rum and mint frequently showed up at church in the handbags of little old ladies and from there often found their way into my mouth. I didn’t particularly like either flavour, but that wasn’t the point: it was candy.

Every Christmas I can remember, my brothers and I got boxes of Lifesavers. They opened like a book and were decorated in a winter scene, usually Santa’s workshop or something like. I’d push open the perforated cardboard doors to reveal what seemed like countless tubes of Lifesavers. It always felt like an impossible amount, like the boxes of 124 crayons, but in reality it must have only been about eight rolls. It seemed like a lot more to me.

My favourites were undoubtedly the coloured ones: traffic-light tubes of alternating red, yellow, orange and green. Red and its sickly cherry flavour was the most desired, although now the smell makes me feel a bit ill. Butter rum always went to my mother. Rolls of exotic, special flavours were usually the first finished and by the time we went back to school, a half eaten tube of butterscotch or mint was usually all that remained, sometimes found under the bed months later.

I took it for granted that Lifesavers were ubiquitous. They’re a staple of any Canadian candy counter, and once I was allowed to buy candy, they were so common that they were hardly a treat. But here, there are no Lifesavers. Within a few weeks of arriving, I described them to someone who told me that there they’re called Polos. Sure enough, Polos come in a foil-wrapped tube and have a hole in the middle, but they are nothing like the Lifesaver. And although they dropped out of my candy top-ten by the time I was seven, I still miss them.

I found a shop in Edinburgh that stocks North American foods, from Betty Crocker cake mixes to Bazooka bubble gum. And tucked next to a pile of Almond Joys, they had a tray of Wintergreen Lifesavers.

In school, the going story was that if you chewed Wintergreen Lifesavers in a dark room, you would make sparks in your mouth that you could see in the mirror. I never tried this, and now it seems a shame to waste one on chewing. Besides, if it turned out not to be true, I’d be very disappointed.

I unwrap the silver paper, peel back the wrapper, and pop one into my mouth. The taste is very minty with a hint of chemical, and it’s wonderful. I suck it slowly and carefully, making sure I don’t crack it, and end up with the perfect thin ring that was so hard to achieve when I was little.

There’s nothing like candy-related nostalgia and when it comes to giving me a taste of home, these Wintergreens are lifesavers.
Petit Dejeunerwhati8today on 27th September 2007 12:31 (UTC)
Lupe Pintos in Tollcross.

I love Jolly Ranchers.