It all started back in the dizzle, @ 1977. Me, Matt, Kevin & Darren, crusing to the local grocery store and loading up on cheap candy for the day. Wacky Wafers? Check. Sweet Tarts? Double Check. Jolly Rancher Sticks? Hells Yes. Raspberry, Apple, Watermelon, Fruit Punch, Pink Lemonade, and of course, Fire. Always the cheapest candy, and always the best flavored. Bright, sharp, tangy, accurate fruit tastes, all packaged in handy sticks: unwrap some now, and save some for later. Speaking of-you can add Now n’ Laters to the list above. Still…JR’s were the star.
Being insane, I’d often grab a few bucks and spend it all on Jolly Rancher Sticks. If memory serves, they were less than a quarter a piece-I think 15 cents. So 3 bucks could net me 20 sticks in varying flavors-enough for days. Really, that’s all I want now, some JR sticks, a better pillow so I won’t tweak my neck as often, and “The Wire” to be erased from my memory so I can watch it all over again for the first time.
But none of that’s gonna happen, cause memory erasing isn’t perfected yet, I’m too lazy to buy a new pillow, and Jolly Rancher aint making those sticks anymore. Why? WHY!?!? And before you say “sure they are! They’re just smaller!”, understand this: Cutting the size by 60% and restricting the flavors down to only apple and cherry aint gonna cut it. At all. Cause Pink Lemonade, Fruit Punch, Raspberry and Watermelon (to name a few) ALL are better than cherry and apple in this dude’s opinion.
Anyway, I’ll stop with the sob story. The past’s the past. What we have now are the little square hard candies you see in office candy bowls, the bottom of kids’ Halloween bags, and those jumbo bags you get at Target. The flavor selection of th “original flavors” mix has changed a bit from Apple, Cherry, Watermelon, Grape and Lemon to the same selection with Blue Raspberry instead of Lemon.
Lemmee tell you something- there’s nothing wrong with Jolly Ranchers. Nothing. I’m a huge hard candy fan, and I’m always trying to find new, different tasting varieties. Yet, I always come back to the same conclusion: I’d rather have a Jolly Rancher. Yes, I wish my favorite OG flavors would be resuscitated, but there’s hope: Jolly Rancher has a bunch of different variety bags. Therefore, if you’re (again) OCD like me, here’s what you do: you buy one of the jumbo bags of the “original” assortment. Then, go to your local grocery store and buy a couple of the “Passion Fruit” mix bags. This includes Fruit Punch (score!), Strawberry, Peach, Raspberry (!!), and Orange. Then, you take all of them, mix them up, and put a bunch in a bowl.
Love love love LOVE them. Throw 10 in your pocket on the way to the ball game, and you have the perfect after “Super Dog” or “Cha Cha Bowl” treat. They last forever, the taste lasts forever, and they rule.
I don’t know why Jolly Ranchers have become thought of as a 2nd class candy-they’re not. They’re the benchmark for how hard candy should taste, and they rock bells. If only there was a way to get the Lemon and Pink Lemonade flavors back, I’d be able to say I’ve finished my life mission. Until then, however, I will continue to buy all sorts of crap candy from gas stations and discount pharmacies, always bemoaning the fact that they can’t get their flavors right. However, I’ll have my JR assortment to come home to, to snuggle with, and to write Haikus about.
Ranchers, in the meadow
Giggling, experimenting, alive with flavor