Rooty Toots Candy

Curio & Co. looks at why kids love obnoxious candy, and some of the worst vintage candy offenders.

For parents, experiences with sweet candy can tour sour pretty fast.

Candy companies seem to be especially out to get parents. It’s bad enough that they get kids sugared up to the point that they’re practically bouncing off the walls, but some of the stuff is just downright obnoxious. Gummy worms. Gummy boogers. Gummy earthworms in a chocolate ‘dirt cup.’ Yuck.

The stuff I ate as a kid was just as bad, and some of it I probably liked only because my parents thought it was gross – after all, as Shakespeare might have said, “a gummy candy in any other shape would taste the same.” Parents were always trying to serve us food that we thought was disgusting: broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts. It was fun to gross them out for a change.

Of course, candy from our parents’ generation wasn’t any better. I think it’s fair to say that they must have had a very different palate, because there are certainly some questionable flavors from back then: a lot of black licorice, chalk-like Necco Wafers, and whatever those Circus Peanuts were made of (Styrofoam?).

However, the most obnoxious candy – hands down – had to have been Rooty Toots Candy Blast.

I bought some this weekend at one of those specialty candy stores selling nostalgia sweets popular in days gone by. Rooty Toots look innocent enough – little candy horns, what could go wrong? Well, those candy horns are real horns, and they don’t toot as much as they squawk, like off-key noisemakers. Loud, off-key noisemakers. Through some magic of their sugared construction, they retain their ability to pierce ear drums even as they get smaller and smaller as you suck away their shape. In fact, you can get one last squawk out of a Root Toot just before you finally crunch it to nothing.

And this must have been the final nail in the coffin for parents in the past: to get all of those horribly loud squawks and screeches out of the candy, you’ve got to hold them carefully. This means melting candy-covered sticky fingers. Seriously sticky. I dropped one on the kitchen floor and despite my best scrubbing, that spot is still attracting every fly for a ten-mile radius. If you were a supermom in the 1960s – Rooty Toots were your kryptonite.

I’m not going to tell you exactly where I bought my Rooty Toots, because there are some things that should probably stay in the past. Heaven help us if today’s sever-year-olds get their hands on a box of Rooty Toots!