They’re long gone, but the olfactory memory remains

Ceci n’est pas un Tart ‘n’ TinyToday as I washed my hands in the office bathroom, I noticed that the building has changed the soap in the dispensers. The old soap was basically unscented (although it did take on an unpleasant rusty smell from the dispenser itself), whereas the new soap has a strangely familiar, slightly fruity scent.

I knew immediately that it was the smell of something I ate a lot of as a kid back in the ’80s. My first thought was that it was Pac-Man cereal, but I knew that wasn’t right. So as I walked back to my desk, I sniffed my hands, straining my brain to identify the scent. And then it hit me. I couldn’t remember what they were called, but I distinctly saw a long-gone Wonka brand candy. I described it to my coworkers as having “a sour taste and chalky texture similar to SweeTarts, and they came in a little box similar to Nerds, but they were tiny cylinders.”

So naturally I found my answer by googling “candy sweet tarts tiny cylinders,” which, equally naturally, led me to Wikipedia, and the answer: Tart ‘n’ Tinys. And then to the disappointing reminder that sometime in the ’90s, Wonka reinvented Tart ‘n’ Tinys with a disgusting Spree-like coating. What’s the point? The candy that I remember is no more. I can’t even find a picture online of what they originally looked like. All I have left is the lingering scent of questionable hand soap and the vivid memory of my tongue turning raw from sucking on 20 or 30 tiny, pointy, chalky cylinders at a time.

Who can take tomorrow… dip it in a dream…

…separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream…?


As a longtime lover of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (and, until last night, only a one-time reader of the Roald Dahl children’s novel it was based on), I had been deeply suspicious about Tim Burton’s new screen adaptation from the beginning, but word of mouth plus superlative reviews convinced me that I must see it, and my expectations were high.

I was disappointed.

I didn’t hate the movie, mind you. I just didn’t think it was all that great. In particular, I felt Johnny Depp’s take on Wonka was way off. Too cold, too misanthropic. Rereading the book last night confirmed this for me.

All of this brings me to my point… after seeing the new film on Sunday afternoon, we decided it was time to bust out the sugar-coated-acid-trip Gene Wilder version that night. And we figured our 2-year-old might like it. But we had no idea just how much he’d like it. He’s watched it at least 15 times in the past 48 hours. For the last two days the first thing he’s said upon waking is “Wonka! Wonka!” and it’s the last thing he’s done before bed. (Of course we don’t give him everything he wants… but he’s learning the value of tenacity at an early age.)

As a result of these round-the-clock screenings, I naturally have much of the music going through my head over and over and over and over… which brings us back to the beginning of this post.

(Oh… in case you’re wondering, it’s the candy man.)