My wife and I hadn’t been on a date since the Clinton administration, so she was a little surprised when I called her from work on Saturday afternoon and asked if she wanted to go out to a movie. She is usually only interested in watching romantic comedies of the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks genre, so when I read off a list of latest offerings, she was less than impressed. She deemed the current crop of comedies as too stupid, and the latest war/mobster movies as way too intense. “I go to the movies to relax and be entertained,” she said, “I don’t want to walk out of the theatre with a stress headache.” We finally decided to scrap the movie idea, and it was planned that I would pick up a pizza on my way home from work.
When I got home I discovered that my wife had put a roaring fire in the fireplace and my daughters had set paper plates out on a bedspread that lay before the fire. The TV and computer were turned off and we had a cozy family night, while eating our pizza by firelight.
Our lives have been very busy lately, so we welcomed the chance to reconnect with one another on this chilly October evening. Soon the topic of conversation turned to Halloween, and my wife and I regaled our daughters with stories of Halloweens past. We told them about the costumes we wore when we were little, and we bragged about how far we trekked while trick and treating. I told them that I used to use a pillowcase as I went from door to door, and that I wouldn’t stop till my bag was at least a ¼ of the way full. My daughters faces turned envious when my wife told them how her next-door neighbor always gave out industrial sized Hershey bars. “These were pre-fun sized candy days,” we told them, “a real dentist’s nightmare.” The subject then veered from Halloween to candy in general and my wife told us that her mother always kept pieces of Starburst candy in a milk glass jar that stood on parent's fireplace mantle.
“Stop right there,” I said.
“What?” She said.
“Did you say that your mother had Starburst candy?”
“You’re telling me, that in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, your mother had Starburst candy?"
As far as I'm concerned the story was an anachronism, and I just couldn’t let it pass. It was like the famous scene in Shakespeare’s ''Julius Caesar" when the clock strikes twelve. I told my wife that I didn't remember seeing Starburst around till at least the late 70's and my wife’s mother died in 1977. It couldn't have been possible that she could have had Starburst fruit chews in her house in the late 60's/early 70's.
“I' m positive that we had Starburst, because my sister Hope (3 years younger) couldn't say Starburst, so she called them 'gooeys.' In fact, my brother and I were always getting in trouble for climbing up on the mantle and trying to reach for the milk glass to get Hope some "gooeys". One time, the milk glass jar tumbled to the ground and smashed into a million pieces. We got in big trouble for that one.”
“That’s a lovely story,” I said, “but your sister’s 'gooeys' were probably 'Now and Laters' or 'Mike and Ikes.”
“No, they were Starburst. You know…just because you didn’t have Starburst around your house when you were a kid, doesn’t mean that they didn’t exist.”
“Listen,” I said. “I have always been a candy connoisseur. I know my candy. Look! (I opened my mouth wide.) I have the fillings to prove it.”
My wife was incensed because she thought I was calling her a liar. She raced to the family room and turned the computer on, (so much for the quality family time.) She quickly typed the word “Starburst” into the search engine address bar. When the official “Starburst” website popped up, she clicked onto the “Behind the burst” page. Here they have listed all sorts of Starburst trivia, the most important of which is as follows:
Fact: Starburst first came to the United States in 1976 in the original blend of orange, lemon, lime and strawberry flavors.
I was standing over my wife’s shoulder when she read this, and being the mature adult that I am, I proceeded to do an imitation of an NFL end zone victory dance. I then wet my index finger, and touched her cheek while making a sizzling sound.
“Don’t you feel burnt?” I asked.
My wife did feel burnt… burnt with anger. She was bound and determined to prove me wrong, so she Googled other Starburst sites until she found one in which the author waxed nostalgic about his days growing up in California during the 1960’s. On this site the man went on and on, fondly remembering eating Starburst candy in his school cafeteria.”
“Obviously he’s mistaken,” I said. “They were probably ‘Necco Wafers’ or ‘Good and Plenty,’ but they couldn’t have been Starburst.”
"Okay, I think I’ll go to bed now.”
Yesterday, while making sandwiches, I told my wife that I planned on writing a story about the "Starburst incident."
“You just can’t admit you were wrong…can you?” She asked.
We continued our conversation while we piled liverwurst and cheese on two slices of Weight Watchers bread. I prefer to eat my liverwurst by the slice, and up until yesterday had never had a liverwurst sandwich. I asked my wife what kind of condiment one puts on a liverwurst sandwich. She told me that while growing up, she always put Guldens' Spicy Brown mustard on her liverwurst. “In fact” she said, “I never liked French’s yellow mustard.”
“Guldens'?” I said. “I didn’t know that Guldens' was around when we were kids.”
It was then that I got the look.
Uh oh! I thought. Here we go again!