Remember the big row of bubble gum machines that used to make one last money grab from kids as they would depart the market? For a quarter you could get anything from sour cherry gum balls, mini super balls, and Boston Baked Beans to SweetTarts.
The toys in the little plastic balls was cheap, but colorful, and always a disappointment when you finally opened them up.
I never was much of a gum chewer until I found out I could no longer use the destructive sugar packed into the artificially-flavored pieces due to my diabetes.
No great loss.
I am not a fan of sugarless gum; why is it that when something is “sugarless” they overcompensate by putting too much artificial sweetener in it? It is the same complaint I have with sugarless sodas. Personally, I would rather have 1 soda with sugar every other month than drink a hundred sugarless drinks.
In Japan, I remember going to the market in town. It was really just the main street through the village that would have little booths on either side of the road, barely narrow enough to walk three across. In one of them sat a huge barrel of thousands of pieces of individually wrapped bubble gum pieces. You would reach in the barrel and pull out one piece from the lot. Inside, you would find a picture of a samurai with a bow shooting at a target. If he hit the target, you would get a free piece of gum. On some days, I would win enough free pieces to make the half-mile trip into town well worth it.
There was another barrel that had multicolored paper mache balls in it. I did not know what type of candy it was, and there was no one to explain to me what exactly they were. So I pay a few yen for a handful, and around the corner I ducked to enjoy my candy.
It turns out the little balls were explosives.
I found out when I popped one of the little balls in my mouth and bit down.
It blew my tooth clean out of my head. Turns out these mini explosives were the best. You just threw them at anything hard and they would pop loudly.
Can you say “parents?”
Needless to say, they were not big fans, and you only threw one at them ONCE.
It was funny, though, and one of the most fun treats of all was hiding behind our bamboo fence and lying in wait for the Tofu Man to come by on his rounds through the dirt paths of the village. His rickety old pre-war bicycle would rattle all through town, so you always knew when he was coming.
He would be balancing what looked like a hundred boxes of tofu in all different carnations and colors. You could easily hear the wooden boxes rattling around as we sprang into action.
Two sling shots.
Two 6-year old kids.
A handful of “explosives.”
Two weeks restriction waiting to happen.