I'm a writer so I'm always in a state of coinus interruptus, but imagine my surprise when I recently discovered a dollar store where things actually cost a dollar each: Dollar Tree. This economical sanctuary at 4923 East Colfax Avenue has some splendid buys for a crumpled George Washington, and the candy aisle up front has impressively peculiar sweetmeats that are sure to impress a gaggle of glucose-magnet shorties -- or grown folks with too much time and too little Cheddar to blow.
My ten favorites:
10. Nutty fluffer candy.
Mallow Pals are squeezable packets decorated with pictures of exotic animals filled with flavored marshmallow schmeg. If you take a butane lighter to the business end, I'm sure you're only seconds away from a toasted ghetto treat.
9. Candyville slugger.
Batter Up candy baseballs are encased in a rather durable plastic bat, perfect for tree-house defense. If you took a swing at somebody with this seemingly innocuous candy-crammed toy, you could rupture a gall bladder. But kids these days aren't exposed to gratuitous violence from television, movies or video games, so I wouldn't worry about it.
8. Blacksmith candy.
A Slo-Poke bar is steelier than Chuck Norris's gonads, and could rip the fillings from a grown man's jaw if he doesn't chew this caramel bar carefully. The candy is obviously a throwback to the days when a cowboy could walk into a saloon/whorehouse/blacksmith shop/dry goods store, plunk down a coin and get a bath, a meal, a bottle of whisky, a female companion, his horse newly shod and a rotted molar extracted, all at the same time.
7. Waxing sentimental candy. These pliable little wax bottles filled with tinted sugar syrup have been around since I was a kid, probably longer, but since I was a youngster back in the Pleistocene era when Reeboks and Ronald Reagan were in style, I'll credit my timeline with yielding some rewards and a few penalties. Two of the bigger drawbacks were me getting my ass whupped for spray-painting my brother -- and getting hollered at for chewing on the empty wax bottles. 6. Patriot rolls. Nothing says "democracy that screws the middle class every ten minutes" like Tootsie Rolls dressed out in all-American red, white and blue. These ubiquitous turdly treats might change their clothes, but I guarantee that the implacable brown tar bits under the wrapper are still the same. After civilization dies out and the aliens visit our frozen rock, they will find cockroaches, a couple of "Cash for Gold" signs and every single uneaten Tootsie Roll that survived the end of days. 5. Taffy tubes. Chewbie's Liquid Taffy. Just when we all thought that the consistency of regular taffy was complicated enough comes this stuff that should be hailed as the anti-toothpaste. My psychic powers sense an imminent choking hazard for toddlers, a new food group for teens, and either a jeans pocket or a purse cemented with neon gunk for any adult who confiscates this from their hyperactive sperm-blossom. 4. Candy bling.
Ring Pops aren't that bizarre, but after attending my fair share of raves over the years, I can assure you that I've seen things done with ring pops that you usually have to pay for -- in Bangkok.
3. Candy bling--for boys.
I always thought that candy rings were a pretty non-gender-biased edible accessory, but apparently the Dollar Tree wants and needs our society to draw a line of demarcation between socially acceptable gender roles by offering us male-specific ring pops. These are in the shapes of various pieces of sporting equipment: soccer balls, basketballs, footballs and baseballs.
2. Pierced lip candy.
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Parents have enough trouble trying to keep their fifth graders from boring additional holes into their pre-pubescent skin sacks without the candy industry making lip rings so ubiquitous that a set of sugar lips are sporting an obvious body modification.
1. Candy rodents.
It's Halloween every day at the Dollar Tree. These grayscale Gummy Ratz are actually quite convincing from a short distance, and although I'm still holding out for candy R.O.U.S.s (watch The Princess Bride -- it's a classic), no one can say that the Dollar Tree doesn't give a rat's ass.