25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE   BY ANGEL NUÑEZ

Candies Of The Past


T
he variety of candies at the stores today is innumerable. Candies range in so many colors, sizes, prices, textures, and of courses flavors. How were candies in San Pedro 25 years ago? There were about seven varieties at the stores and another five that were locally made. Let us look at them.

First of all there was the black mint which was hot or it burned, according to the children. It had a lot of mint. Then there was the brown mint, which burned a little less. The children preferred this mint not only because it was less hot, but also because it sold at one cent a piece while the black mints went four for five cents. Then there were two favorites of the teenagers, which were the apricot and paradise. These sold at three for five cents and were absolutely delicious but expensive for the children. Believe it or not, the chocolate kisses were in the stores even in the fifties, but these were bought only for special occasions like Christmas or special birthday parties. There was a long stick called a peanut candy, which was basically sugar and peanuts and was also considered a delicacy. I can never recall the candies of the past without thinking of some nice white lozenges with a mint flavor which were like a 25 cent coin. And finally there were the sweets we called vicks, which were more medication than candies.

Obviously, with a shortage in varieties of candies, the locals learned to make candies of their own. First we made the "cocobrut", which was tender coconut meat chopped into small pieces with sugar. One large three inch cocobrut cost only one cent. Then there was the "tableta", which was again coconut meat which was grounded finely and boiled with sugar until it got to a point that hardened. Similar to the cocobrut was a candy called "ponte duro" and was made with fried flour dough instead of tender coconut. Ponte duro was hard as its name implies.(duro means hard) Don't laugh at this one but we used to make a strange powdered candy made by roasting corn and grinding it very finely with a hand grinding mill. Sugar was added to this fine dusty corn and it sold as "kasham" at two cents for a pocketful. Oh yes, we used to boil a can of condensed milk which sold for 5 cents a can and when it got hard we ate it like candy. For this we used to pitch in one cent per person and then shared the can of boiled mild among 5 boys. Another locally made candy was by using roasted pepitoes and sugar. (Pepitoes are the seeds of the pumpkin). In other parts of Belize like in Placencia they used to make a candy using coconut water called "stretch me guts", but we never learned to make that one in San Pedro.

One point of observation is that children consumed much less candies twenty five years ago than today and for the same reason people suffered less cavities and rotten teeth than today. You scarcely saw children with rotten teeth and never with braces in their mouths. Well, there were less cavities and the art of orthodontry had not come into being yet. One thing is certain though and that is that the tableta coconut candies matched the delicacy of the apricot and paradise of twenty five years ago.


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