Who says trick-or-treating is just for kids? Well, OK, it basically is, but you can still enjoy some of your kids' haul. And if you're lucky, some nice neighbors will hand out these retro treats, delivering a flood of great memories with the sugar rush. Some are tricky to track down — the Marathon bar, a beloved 8-inch braid of caramel and chocolate from “The Six Million Dollar Man” era, was nowhere to be found. But Nestle's 100 Grand bar is still in circulation. Four great Chicagoland stores — Candyality, Lickity Split, Amy's Candy Bar and Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop — stock many other tastes of nostalgia.
Wax Lips and wax bottles (aka Nick-L-Nips)
Before collagen and Angelina Jolie, red wax lips afforded every girl and boy a plumper pout — at least until the wearer nibbled them into oblivion. Wax bottles, a.k.a. Nick-L-Nips, added sweet liquid pleasure to the wax-eating experience. Wax lips $2.50 each; wax bottles, $3 per quarter-pound, candyality.com.
Candy cigarettes and bubble gum cigars
Who needs peer pressure when you have candy cigarettes stocked in every dime store? That puff of powdered sugar, along with colorful bubblegum cigars, groomed thousands of innocents to pick up even unhealthier habits down the line. 24-pack cigarette candy box, $6, candywarehouse.com. El Bubble gum cigars in banana, apple and fruit blend, $1 each at amyscandybar.com, or 36-piece box, $16.20, candywarehouse.com.
Sugar Babies and Sugar Daddies
Despite their diminutive size and adorable names (well, Sugar Daddy has taken a hit in recent years), we're pretty sure these brown sugary chews deserve some of the blame, back in the day, for our record eight cavities during a single dentist visit. $8 for snack-size combo pack (40 pieces), candywarehouse.com.
Razzles and Bottle Caps
First it's a candy, then it ... gums up our dental work. But, on the bright side, extracting it from our molars passed the miles on family road trips. As for Bottle Caps, if root beer had gotten its own package, they would still be flying off of store shelves today. Razzles, $2 for full-size (1.4 oz.) pack; Bottle Caps, $3 for full-size (5-oz.) pack, amyscandybar.com.
Between the brightly-colored stripes on paper straws and the name that evokes Tinker Bell, Pixy Stix already have a lot going for them. But then, the joy of pouring the tangy fruit-flavored sugary powder right into your mouth! If you go too fast, you end up coughing, so actually the safer route is to sprinkle it on a sandwich, “Breakfast Club”-style (thanks, Ally Sheedy!). 15¢ each at Rocket Fizz.
Candy button strips
Peel and pop! Sure, you occasionally get a bit of paper along with the pill, but pleasure doesn't get much simpler than crunchy candy buttons on skinny scrolls. Plus, these could be a useful motivational tool in teaching rudimentary math. An edible abacus, if you will. Who says candy is bad for you? 6 strips for $3 at candyality.com.
There's no better way to eat candy than when it's in little pastel-brick form, sticking out of the necks of your favorite characters. $3 for toy dispenser (includes two packs of Pez candy), $3 for a pack of 8 replacement candies at Lickity Split.
Salt water taffy
Candy doesn't get more old school than salt water taffy, purportedly born on the Jersey Shore in the 1880s. The 91 flavors for sale at Rocket Fizz hail from (appropriately enough) Salt Lake City. Good news: These scrumptiously soft-'n'-chewy nibbles don't stick to your teeth ... much. $8 per bag (about 100 pieces, if you stuff it) at Rocket Fizz.
Nerds and Airheads
Nerds were the banana peel of the '90s, imperiling kids' footing as the mini-nuggets escaped their boxes to loll about the school hallways. Airheads arose in 1986 to challenge Laffy Taffy's popularity. Mini-boxes of Nerds, $3 per quarter-pound at candyality.com; Airheads: 39¢ each at Rocket Fizz.
Pop rocks, Fun Dip and Lemonheads
No doubt about it: Pop Rocks take candy to a whole new level, as the effervescent nuggets explode in your mouth. (And while we can't endorse this practice, it IS pretty funny if you drop some on the floor and your dog eats them.) Meanwhile, puckering is never so sweet as when you're sucking on a Lemonhead — which you can buy not just in a box of minis, but individually wrapped in gumball size. Both an activity and a treat, Lik-m-aid Fun Dip contents the bored or sullen child with its powdery pouches and candy stick to transport from pouch to mouth. Pop Rocks, 99¢ each from Rocket Fizz; Lemonheads, $8/lb. from Lickity Split; Wonka Fun Dip, $2.25 from candyality.com, or $9.60 for 48-pack box at candywarehouse.com.
Let's be honest: Mint gum is never going to win a popular vote of trick-or-treaters. Still, who can resist the adorable mini boxes, each containing two Chiclet squares? (Fun fact: The name comes from chicle, the original key ingredient in chewing gum.) 25¢ each (mint only — sadly, no assorted fruit flavors available) at Rocket Fizz.
Zots and double lollipops
Zots are the stealth treat: They look like a boring old hard candy Grandma has in her purse, but once you get to the center: zowie! A burst of fizzy tangy delight erupts. Double lollies were a constant, tongue-chafing companion to children through the '80s and beyond. Smarties' version offers two-for one flavors: orange/lemon or cherry/blue raspberry. Zots, 99¢ for a strip of four at Rocket Fizz. Smarties' double lollies, $1.25 each at candyality.com or $30 for a 200-piece tub at candywarehouse.com.
Chick-O-Sticks and Necco wafers
Despite a name that smacks suspiciously of poultry, Chick-O-Sticks were like Butterfingers in the buff — no chocolate coating, just the peanut-buttery chewy interior (dusted with lightly toasted coconut, but we forgive them that). Necco Wafers cashed in on their size, strategically similar to a quarter, associated fondly with marathons of Pac-man and Galaga in the heyday of the arcade. Chick-O-Sticks, $3 per quarter-pound at Candyality stores or $13.20 for a 3-pound bag of minis at candywarehouse.com. Necco mini-rolls, $3 per quarter-pound at Candyality or $45 for a 150-piece tub at candywarehouse.com.
Bit-O-Honey and Mary Janes
Bit-O-Honeys are like the cute little sister to the somewhat square Mary Jane of the 1960s — bearing a strong flavor resemblance but perkier packaging. Mary Janes and Bit-O-Honey, $3 per quarter-pound at Candyality.
Kits and BB Bats
Individually wrapped in mini-packs like the precious little parcels they once were, Kits taffies harken to less bountiful, more appreciative times. A cousin, BB Bats taffy pops date way back to 1924.Kits and BB Bats: $3 per quarter-pound, candyality.com, or $20 for a 100-piece box of each at candywarehouse.com.
Half of the fun of retro candy is shopping for it like we used to do — in an actual storefront candy shop. Here are five of Chicago’s finest/funnest — plus one (newfangled) web site whose vast inventory lives up to its name.
Amy’s Candy Bar is a Lincoln Square destination (with free street parking on Sundays!) not just for nostalgic candy but also hand-crafted and artisan confections, including her signature sea salt caramels. 4704 N. Damen Ave. (773-942-6386).
Candyality beckons like a Willy Wonka fantasy land with two locations and one more on the way: 3737 N. Southport Ave. (773-472-7800), The Shops at Northbridge at 520 N. Michigan Ave. (312-527-1010). The Water Tower Place location is reopening soon.
Illinois Nut & Candy Co., 3745 W. Dempster, in Skokie (847-677-5777) caters to special needs with casein-free, dye-free, gluten-free, organic, lactose-free, sugar-free and vegan candy, as well as simple sugary favorites.
Lickity Split does out-the-door business in the summer thanks to its delicious frozen custard, but even if chilly weather discourages you from cold creamy treats, you can always hit their retro candy wall, which also features a wide range of chocolates. 6056 N. Broadway (773-274-0830).
Launch into a sugar-fueled orbit of nostalgia at Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop, a locally owned franchise (and the only one in Illinois) of the California-based original store. In addition to the wide array of candy, you’ll find an insane amount of soda flavors. 1859 Tower Drive, Glenview (224-661-3142).
Candywarehouse.com can fulfill some of the most obscure (and even mildly obscene) requests — including Tower of Sour Liquid Candy Urine Samples, packaged like a lab specimen, complete with seal.