My kids wanted 100 Grand the other day.
They also wanted Mounds. And Swedish Fish. And Smarties.
Everything that’s old is new again when it’s savored by the next generation.
When I was a kid, all of these things were considered old people’s candy, right up there with Werther’s Original and peppermint discs. You grimaced if someone put one in your bag for Halloween. (Full disclosure: I love Werther’s Original and peppermint discs and always have. I’m truly an anachronism.)
And now my kids crave these old-fashioned sweets.
Usually when you hear people talking about something going in or out of style, you think of clothing or music. But based on their tastes, I suppose combinations of different flavors with chocolate must be subject to fads too.
I enjoy the combination of chocolate, crisped rice and caramel as much as anyone, but I always thought of the $100,000 Bar (or the 100 Grand Bar, as it became known in the mid-1980s) was just an old person thing.
Same thing with Mounds, first created in 1919. With its combination of chocolate and coconut, it always seemed like the odd man out. If you think to that jingle from he 1970s, “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.” It always seemed like Mounds was just lacking something.
It’s not just the chocolates, either.
Swedish Fish apparently started in the 1950s, imported into the United States from a Swedish company. These fish-shaped treats come in all flavors, but whenever I think of them, I think about the red ones. Spending a little time near the concessions stand at a recent basketball tournament, I realized just how popular these things are among the young.
Ditto for Smarties, those sweet little wafers rolled in a plastic wrapper made since 1949. They still have their own special, subtle flavor based on their colors, including orange-cream (white), pineapple (yellow), cherry (pink), strawberry (green), grape (purple) and orange (yup, orange). It turns out they are only 25 calories per roll, but I doubt that’s why kids still like them.
With all the innovation in the world, you have to wonder why the classics persist, especially when people in my generation thumbed their noses at them.
My kids had a pretty simple answer: Sugar. Any sugar is good sugar.
They can detect artificial flavors and sweeteners too. One of my daughters rejects “fake chocolate” whenever she’s within 5 feet of it. She can just tell when it’s more chemical than cocoa.
I think it’s more than just sugar, though. It’s nostalgia. It’s their connection to the treats of their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.
After all, good taste never goes out of style.