I remember the school bell announcing the end of class and the start of recess. All the kids rushing to the playground, either to eat a snack or to play a quick game of soccer. Shouts, laughter, balls, and chatter flooded those magical moments of childhood. It’s these sensations that come back when I think about the lollipops that accompanied not only my childhood, but the vast majority of Mexican children during the early years of life.
I remember the butterflies in my stomach when I opened a lollipop and the wrapper read, “El amor anda cerca” (Love is near), as well as the naughtiness of “toasting” with my friends a candy shaped like a beer mug. There was also a very popular group of candies called the picosas…sweet, sour, and spicy all in one! So many to choose from: the classic watermelon, corn, the Rockaleta and the Ricaleta, and the very strange roasted chicken lollipop. Not to mention the sweet ones, like cajeta, Tix Tix, Chupa Chups, and of course, the infamous Paleta Payaso (clown popsicle), which was also interactive, since one could decide what to eat first, the eyes and then the mouth? Or take the first bite and alternate between the mouth and the eyes? In short, there were always different ways to eat that cheerful and delicious chocolate covered clown.
Joy in the shape of a lollipop
An honorable mention must go out to the mother of all lollipops, the lollipop par excellence, the origin and the end of lollipops, the richest one, the one that will always be present in Mexican childhoods, the most versatile, the one that still makes us ask ourselves philosophical questions such as, “How many licks does it take to get to the center?” I’m speaking of course about the Tootsie Pop. This cherry-flavored treat came with a chewing gum center that we all longed to reach; those who were more patient sucked on the outer hard candy until they reached it, and those who were not so patient bit into it immediately to enjoy a heterogeneous mixture of chewing gum with gloriously juicy cherry chunks. And for the craven, another way to eat it was dipped in that other jewel of Mexican candy, Miguelito, mango flavored powder or liquid.
Above all, I remember that all those various flavors and textures were always accompanied by friends, siblings, and cousins who were the perfect accomplices. Spending our Sundays gathering our nickels together to buy lollipops at the corner store before running off to play.