I was shocked to discover, after years of trying to forget about them, that Good & Plenty candies are not only still being manufactured, but that it would not even be illegal for any knucklehead off-the-street to purchase a box and offer them to some poor shlub as a treat.
This candy is so awful it should only be sold in joke-shops. When I was a kid, if I had somehow got hold of some, I would only chew off the Kaopectate flavored coating—while being extra careful not to disturb the horrible tasting tobacco center—then spit out the rest.
Older kids in my neighborhood would buy Good & Plenty’s and pretend they were drugs. Of course, they would never actually eat them; they would instead force us younger kids to “take” them and tell us we were hallucinating.
How is it that these wretched little pellets are not yet extinct? Back in the 1960’s, it was probably their diabolical marketing campaign that kept them afloat. They would put a magic trick on the back of the box, get some snotty kid (oh, how I loathed him) to perform it in a TV commercial, and then force you to buy a box in order to learn the secret (which was revealed on the inside flap). I never did learn how to make a quarter cry—I think they purposely let that creepy TV kid be the only one to know how it was done.
I also remember a deceptively benign cartoon ad featuring a menacing little engineer by the name of Choo Choo Charlie who—immediately after tasting them, I bet—decided to fuel his engine with Good & Plenty candies. I cheered when he burned them, but was totally unprepared for the catchy background jingle that was obviously a subliminal hack designed to permanently embed itself into the brains of innocent children. Here is an early version of the commercial:
Trust me: you don’t ever want to get that stuck in your head—not unless you’re planning a killing spree or want to start doing needle drugs.
After a bit of research, I learned that Good & Plenty’s are the oldest branded candy in the United States (true). They were first produced in 1893 by the Quaker City Confectionary Company of Philadelphia (also true) and were fiendishly invented a few years earlier by an irritable pharmacist with an intense hatred of the human race (probably not true).
Seriously, does anybody like these things?
Note: I know there’s a chance that Kaopectate (a remedy for diarrhea) and tobacco (a remedy for health) may not be the precise ingredients, so please don’t email me. 🙂