Cartoons and comics often get blamed for soliciting products to children. Many characters have been used to sell sugary cereals, candy, and other various teeth-rotting foods. The Masters of the Universe cartoon was a thinly-veiled commercial for the action figures. But the sad story I am about to tell you might be the lowest a fictional character has ever sunk to sell something.
At some point in my childhood, cigarette gum fell out of favor with the general public. This probably has something to do with the fact that is is a cigarette. For kids. This is one of those critical views I can at least see the logic behind. Unlike, say, the idea that Big League Chew would lead to kids wanting chewing tobacco.
The downside to cigarette gum disappearing is that cigarette gum is awesome. You would blow on them, and powder would shoot out, resembling smoke. And then the gum would have the paper wrapper stuck to most of it, rendering half the gum inedible. But at least the gum you were able to salvage tasted delicious. Wait. No, it didn't. Okay, never mind. Except for the very brief novelty thrill, cigarette gum wasn't very good.
Besides the nostalgia filter and the novelty attached to them, I think the main reason we remember cigarette gum fondly is because it is often compared to its dreadful relative - candy cigarettes.
Candy cigarettes took the worst aspects of cigarette gum, and made them even less desirable. Gone was the puff of smoke. Instead, the "novelty" for the candy version was simply a red-colored tip ("It looks just like fire!"). You might think the lack of a wrapper was an upside, because it wouldn't adhere to the candy. The problem with this was, since you were able to eat the whole stick... you had to eat the whole stick. And they were terrible. They essentially were a dry, roughly-textured Fun Dip stick with less flavor.
Soon, the general public thought "Wait, why are candy cigarettes okay for kids, but cigarette gum isn't? I don't think the gum aspect was the issue." The problem was, everyone loved candy cigarettes, they couldn't just take them off the market! Or, more likely, the problem was that they had mountains of the terrible-tasting ingredients required to make candy cigarettes, and they had to be used for something.
Hence, the transition into candy sticks. Where the manufacturers simply said, "Please just eat this. It has no novelty value and it tastes terrible, but will you just do us a favor and eat it anyway?"
Somehow, Popeye became the man to lead this transition. Popeye had is own line of candy cigarettes. Which makes plenty of sense when you remember that Popeye is so well known for smoking cigarettes and eating candy. Wait, no, I'm confusing things. He was famous for smoking a pipe and eating spinach. So how did Popeye get mixed up in all of this?
Once the pressure was on, Popeye transitioned his cigarettes into simple sticks by removing the red coloring on the tip. Problem solved! Popeye candy sticks are something I distinctly remember getting in my pumpkin. And despite being a child with no real discernable tastes, even I could tell these things were filler candies.
Be glad you didn't pay to read this, because this "history" lesson is a mix of assumptions, guesswork, and my vague childhood Trick or Treating memories.
Candy sticks are one of those things that shouldn't exist any more. It seems the only way you could get someone to even buy them is to take the very likely cheap ingredients, and spend a little money to get a well-known license and trick kids into wanting them. But they wouldn't sink that low, would they?
Of course they would.
I guess one complaint you can't have about Avengers candy sticks is the price. You get sixty two-packs for about $2. Also, it's pretty smart packaging, where they decided to leave off the two least popular Avengers, Hawkeye and Black Widow, in order to make increase the size of the big four of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Hulk. This also might possibly be due to the fact that anyone foolish enough to get suckered into buying these isn't old enough to be interested in Black Widow, anyway.
And yes, I'm aware that I got suckered into buying these. Moving on...
The packaging is nice looking, with one side featuring a single Avenger, and the other side two of them fighting together. Everything seems good so far!
And that's the end of that. No more goodness. Making matters worse, the sticks are bubble gum flavored. The only time something should be bubble gum flavored is when it is bubble gum. Possible exception can be made for the pink amoxicillin you keep in the refrigerator.
Hard, chalky, unpleasant taste, boring aesthetics - Avengers candy sticks have it all! They're hidden in nice packaging, but as always, candy sticks take their place at the bottom of the Halloween candy desirability rankings.
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