Candy Cigarettes are bad M’Kay?
According to statistics Canada, between 1999 and 2012 the percentage of tobacco smokers aged 15 and older decreased from 25% to 16%. This stands in line with my own unscientific observations as I have noticed many of my friends and family have also quit smoking in the last few years, or at the very least given it a good try. I think it may be time for me to join them. I have been a smoker for much longer than I would like to admit, and let’s face it smoking is not as cool as it used to be. Granted smoking was never actually cool, but as a youth growing up in the 80’s, it sure did ‘look’ cool to me. It was badass, it was adult, it was rebellious, plus a cartoon camel told me it was fun and why would he have any reason to lie to me? Well, eventually I figured out the lie and believe me, I’ll never trust a camel again. Maybe that makes me a bigot but come on! Look at them with their stupid hump and big lips. If that’s not enough, I am so sick of them humble-bragging about how little water they need. What a bunch of show-offs! Great, now I need a cigarette to calm down.
Smoking was everywhere when I was young. It was in malls, restaurants, TV, movies and music. Hell, it was even in video games (Golgo 13 and Metal Gear come to mind) and I bought in to the idea that it was badass and cool. Of course, exposing children to smoking was hardly exclusive to the 80’s.
“Have you ever though about wife swapping?”
I knew it was dangerous and my first puff confirmed that it was disgusting, but I believed the hype – it simply looked too cool to ignore. As I began to search for my own identity smoking managed to become a part of it, much to my parents chagrin. My favourite smoking scene in any movie had to be when Ray had a cigarette just hanging on the tip of his lips when he first met Slimer in the Ghostbusters movie. Still ‘till this day I think it looks cool. How I was able to rebel against all the other lies I was told and still buy so deeply into the smoking lie? I am not sure, but here I am, 38 years old and if I died tomorrow, I would have died as a lifetime smoker. I am not going to claim that I am a smoker solely because of ‘society’, but it is surely a part of it. As I resolve to quit smoking I am looking back on my life as a smoker and realize how much cigarettes were a part of my life. They were there when I was sad, and they were there when I was celebrating. I cannot say there was anyone else as completely present for all my highs and lows as my trusty pack of DuMaurier was. I do not regret smoking, I needed them quite frankly to get through life as far as I have but as I look to my future it is getting harder to justify my continued use of them. I remember my first cigarette, I was 17 and depressed because my girlfriend and I were having problems, which was the theme of our relationship on a whole. I had gone to the park at night just to get some space and just listen to my Nirvana mix tapes in peace and quiet while I thought things out. There was an artist that I had seen a few times at the park and was again there that fateful night. For some reason I struck up a conversation with him even though I generally hate human interaction. He had a cigarette (a knock-off ‘Zel’ brand. I was destined for knock-offs apparently) and on impulse I asked him for one. I got a little dizzy, but after a little bit, I asked him for another one. Somehow I started to feel better about ol’ what’s-her-name and was able to think a little more clearly. I felt stronger, I felt more in control. God Damn! I’m supposed to be a smoker! I bought my own pack on the way home. I’ve come a long way from those dark days, so why am I still smoking? But wait! I think I’m lying – I had my first cigarette when I was 6.
Sceptical? Well have you ever heard of candy sticks?
These candy sticks have been around since the 1930’s and were still going strong in the 80’s. I have never actually seen anybody eat candy sticks outside of the Halloween season, but they were available at every corner store in town all year round. If you know of them, have you ever asked why they are shaped the way they are or why they are white? I mean, it’s candy, why not use zany colours that attract kids?
Then again, do kids give a shit about Popeye anymore? I guess the colour really doesn’t matter.
Well back in the stupid ages, these candy sticks were known as ‘candy cigarettes’ and came in packs that looked suspiciously like real cigarettes and I gave them a try when I was 6 years old.
Hey Kids, wanna be like your ol’ pal Popeye? I have 1 good eye and can’t maintain an erection anymore after years of smoking – but I’m all man – check out my upside-down pipe!
They even had a little red colour on the end to simulate the burning tobacco. They tasted like chalk but they looked like cigarettes and so they were cool for kids trying to emulate their action star heroes. Every single year on Halloween I would eagerly await the candy bars and chips that the cool parents would give out only to be disappointed by the sheer volume of these damned Popeye cigarettes I somehow collected. I used them to play smoke and I tried eating them once or twice but after having to wash the vomit out of my costume a few times I swore I would never eat them again. “I’ll just stick to pretend smoking them instead” I said to myself. In all honesty, I think a real cigarette actually tastes better than the candy ones and let’s be honest, real cigarettes taste like arsenic – I really hated the taste of those Popeye smokes. Maybe they did that on purpose? I get it! They were training kids to hate the taste and stay away from smoking! Brilliant!
Ah hell. Maybe not…
Kid: Mommy! Mommy! I want to be just like daddy!
Mom: Well junior you are going to need a cigarette, a suit, and a little whore at the office just like your useless shit of a father!
Mom: You will need to make sure you yell at your wife when she burns toast because she is chasing after 3 fucking kids while you sit on your ass smoking and reading a newspaper! Make sure to live right next door to your mother so she can wash shit stains out of your underwear and interfere in your marriage at least once a week! Oh, and be sure to tell your friends all the horrible sexual positions you force on your wife. You want to be just like daddy? Do ya!?
Kid: I’m scared mommy!
I can remember a time where there was nothing cooler than hanging outside the school with my friends with our Popeye cigarettes just looking for action. I was a social user at the time, much like an adult who only smokes while at the bar, I generally only pulled out my Popeye pack when I was drinking root beer with my crew. We were young and had a devil-may-care attitude – we didn’t worry about the sugar yellowing our teeth or nonsense like second-hand diabetes, we were young, free and cool… Except for the time I was walking with my buddies with a Popeye smoke tucked behind my ear and drew the attention of a swarm of bees. Other than that – we were totally carefree.
Not The Bees! Damn You Popeye! Not The Bees!
There were some hipster kids of course for whom the Popeye brand wasn’t good enough and they had to have some fancy grape flavoured import brand, but I never hung out with those kids. I stuck it out with the honest working-class crowd and our Popeye cigarettes… and bee welts.
This one kid, ‘Marcus’ would use nothing but these fancy Mexican iMac themed candy cigarettes. What a pretentious little shit he was. I hope he’s in a sugar coma.
You can argue that these cigarette candies are separated enough from the real thing so that it is clear to children they are not actual cigarettes. However these candy cigarettes were not just limited to Popeye. Real tobacco brand names also got in on the action and I must say, I applaud their decision to do so. What a wonderful little idea this was. Now little Timmy can experience the true full flavour of an official Camel brand candy cigarette. They are never too young to start building that brand loyalty. Good for you Camel, way to be pro-active.
Timmy is even starting to kind of look like a camel, no?
There were so many variations on the candy cigarettes. In fact some of them would contain some powdered sugar in the wrapper to give the illusion of actually smoking but in a ‘safe’ way (that actually sounds like the logic used in a modern electronic cigarette to me.) However our fun would eventually come to a crashing halt as parents would start to notice that their kids were growing up to be smokers and began to blame the candy. I personally took offense to this and disagreed with the relationship between the two, I mean, I grew up watching WWF Wrestling and yet I am in terrible shape. See? No relationship. None-the-less, parents claimed that these candy cigarettes would desensitize children to smoking and lead them on the path to real tobacco usage (which again, is a similar concern with e-cigarettes). While there are many of us that, despite our candy cigarettes, somehow went on to live smoke free lives, if you smell my clothes you will find out that I am not one of them. You will also note that I use Irish Spring soap. The scientific community produced several studies that supported the causal relationship between candy cigarettes and the real ones, and as more and more evidence piled up, many countries banned the sale of candy cigarettes. In Canada, our ban is based on the selling of products that look like a cigarette, which is why the Popeye candy sticks can still exist – change the name and get rid of the red tip and voilà! Totally not a cigarette. It still tastes like a horse’s ass, but there is no law against that.
In fact, apparently the horse ass is part of the appeal
It was so unfair to take them away from us. Did they have any idea how much we counted on those things? I used to have a Popeye after every meal for desert. Man, let me tell you there is nothing better than that after meal Popeye candy cigarette for desert, it was so filling and the perfect closure to the mealtime experience. The only thing better that the after meal smoke was the ‘after sex’ one. Assuming a woman ever lets me have sex with them again, I might just pop out a Popeye’s for old time’s sake when we’re done.
Woman: Huh… that was … ok… I guess.
Me: Yea, I was awesome. Now to finish off with a cigarette.
Woman: Can I have one too? Wait… That’s not a cigarette, that’s candy…
Me: I’m a rebel baby, what can I tell ya?
Woman: Get out of my bed.
But… But… It says right here that I’m a ‘Manly Man’!
So what the Hell could we do now that the man took away our fix? Well luckily we were also privy to cigarette play packs as kids too! Again some of these were officially branded, such as the Philip Morris pack that includes the bubble-gum cigarettes and lighter. The Lighter actually had a light bulb in it that would light up when the wheel was turned. In all honesty it looks like fun… assuming you didn’t have a TV or Nintendo as a kid.
My parents bought me a Sega Master System. That’s why I smoke.
Of course, that was then and we are now in 2015, safe and sound from the bullshit of tobacco branding with other things we like in order to keep our sorry selves hooked on the leaf. On a completely unrelated note, I bought a new lighter the other day.
I laugh at the fact my iPhone cigarette lighter has a Nike+ app on it. Who are you fucking kidding?
This has to be one of the worst ideas ever for a lighter. It is a small plastic iPhone shaped lighter that requires USB charging to function. The reason for the charging is that it functions more like a toaster than a traditional lighter. Instead of relying on lighter fluid and a spark to function, a small coil heats up when in use and can be used to light your cigarette. These types of lighters are generally great for use in windy weather but the major problem here is the lack of any safety on it. There is no tricky mechanism that makes it difficult to use – simply push up from the bottom to reveal the heating element and it auto-starts immediately. It’s so easy that even a child can use it! That is intuitive design, simple and elegant. Unfortunately, I am the type of guy that plays with the change in his pocket and sure enough, I played with this lighter while it was in my pocket and accidentally triggered the heater that then proceeded to burn a hole in my pocket. Sadly this is not the first time, or likely the last time, that Apple has burned a hole in my money pocket. The worst part of this is that is it completely incompatible with my new Apple pipe.
Man, I am really getting the ‘reality distortion field’ thing now…
That’s how they get ya – you get a shiny new lighter and then you need to upgrade to a new model so it is compatible with another new shiny device. But I am getting off topic…
So goodbye to candy cigarettes, I guess it’s one of those things that are lost to the forward march of progress. While I can wax nostalgic about Popeye’s, which ironically taste a lot like wax when they get older, I believe the time has come to give my smoking habit up – As a father I often worry that my smoking will suggest to my children that cigarettes are a part of the ‘normal’ adult experience. As it stands I already defined normal to them as “Spiderman defecating in a toilet while wearing his costume” so I think I’ve done enough damage already.
There is good news though, the younger and smarter are already wise to the lies of the tobacco industry and are fully aware that it is not cool, rebellious or anything of value. They know that cigarettes are a way to be nothing more than a slave to a greedy, heartless machine that profits on your ever-decaying health. For those that still haven’t figured it out and want to rebel with cigarettes, now that candy cigarettes are illegal, if you want to be a badass grab a pack of Popeye’s and a leather jacket (because that never will go out of style.) Thank goodness we no longer advertise cigarettes and tobacco products to our kids. … Other than Bubble Gum Cigars … and Liquorice Pipes … oh yea and ‘Big League Chew’ candy chewing tobacco.
And Sonic the Hedgehog
Verdict: I do believe it is time to quit. Wish me luck!
How about you? Did you ever try Popeye candy cigarettes? Are you a smoker now? Leave a comment and let the nerd army know! Don’t forget to like, share and subscribe and let the word of the nerd be heard!