For a while in the ’90s I ran the family campground. It was my legacy as an Einstein. I slept in a camper, got drunk every night, mowed the lawn all day and in the evening I “minded the store”. Not sure why I put quotes around that because there really was a store and I really did mind it. See, the campground was too far from the corner store to walk to so when the
little bastards camper kids wanted candy and whatnot they had to come to me.
It was also my job to go to Sam’s Club or “The Candy Man” to buy the crappy stuff we sold in the store. I mean, we had the regular kinds of candy, but the kids could never afford a whole $.35 for an actual candy bar (or whatever it cost) because as soon as they found a nickel or their drunk aunt gave them a quarter so they would stop “hossin’ around too close to the damn fire” they would book it up to the store and throw the money (and some sand or whatever else they had in their pocket) on the counter and shove their snotty little faces against the glass and decide what they wanted. Of course that was after the obligatory “What can I get for this?” question that came with the coin hurling. And they would get Swedish Fish or sour balls or other kinds of old person candy that, had the kids not been poor and essentially prisoners, they would never have bought willingly.
And these transactions were pretty much designed to pass the time. The store was also the office. People would rent campsites for a week or two, but many of them would get a seasonal place. Central Maine is not a very sweet deal in the summer. It’s hot and muggy and having a place to go after work and on weekends with a lake to swim in was a good deal. And that’s where we made most of our money.
We did not make money in the store. I got a hot dog steamer at a yard sale and fired that bad boy up and things went NUTS for like a month. The alkie who looked like Lee Van Cleef and ran the store during the day ran a special. 2 hot dogs and a can of soda for $2.50. The best part of that was that he made a sign for it. He found a piece of fluorescent green poster board and wrote pretty much in the middle of it, in messed up tiny letters that would have fit on something half the size.
Who could resist 2 hot do95 E can soda for $2.50? Not the campers. That’s for sure. My hot dog machine was a hit! But that was just vulgar commerce. It had no torture or physical feats involved. Torture and physical feats were reserved for the children. Damn, that sounds a lot creepier than it was. Allow me to explain.
The kids at the campground were ALWAYS bored. So they were always up at the store bugging me and whatever friends came up for the weekend. So we had to torture them or make them do physical feats. Once my BFF and I sat in front of the store while the kids ran us out beers faster than we could drink them because we were letting them have the deposit money. We were hammered in about an hour and the kids spent all the money on Bit-O-Honeys. And sometimes I would give them all a little plastic bag and tell them that for every one they brought back filled with litter I would give them a quarter.
They would clean the whole campground, I would spend less than five bucks and they would collectively spend ALL the money in the store. Immediately. On terrible candy. Until the day I decided to not go to Sam’s and go to the Candy Man. After that it was all the Warheads challenge.
The Candy Man was a candy wholesaler whose store looked like what I imagine Willy Wonka’s factory would have looked like if Willy had been a hoarder. He told me to try a Warhead so I popped that bad boy in my mouth and immediately got the hot spits like I always get before I puke. I managed to not puke in the weird candy store so I bought a big honkin’ jug of the things (just like in the banner pic).
When I got back to the store, I put the new thing in a place of honor on the counter. The kids had already begun to gather. Some of them had mentioned the terrible candy before and now they were super excited. And I was ready for them with the worst physical feat I could think of. I am not going to pretend that I made money on the Warheads challenge, but it passed the time. And while I was writing this I texted my buddy and he swears the 2 hot do95 E can soda (which he recited verbatim without prompting) was only $1.50. No wonder we were broke.
The Warhead Challenge was simple. Warheads cost a dime. If you put it in your mouth and didn’t open said mouth for one minute you got your dime back. The fad lasted for about three weeks. I had to mop the floor in front of the counter 50 times a day because it was covered in kid spit and fragments of Warheads from kids who didn’t get their dime back. Ahhh, memories. I wish I had inherited the campground like I was supposed to. Damn family. Picture Game of Thrones where everyone wears Dickie’s pants AND shirts. Argh. Video below features some magnificent bastard who makes his whole family eat Warheads. Suckers!
I enjoy Warheads. But I’m certifiable.
Damn. I laughed hard at least 3 times during that. That was awesome.
We used to save up change and go to this little store called Leo’s on the corner of 5th and Main. This was the busiest intersection in the whole town. You could tell because this is where the stoplight is. We’d get Zots. Those were big in those days. I wish we’d had someone like you to challenge us like you did for those kids. You pushed them to be the best. They’re probably all doctors and lawyers and such now.
LOL, I agree that you probably made those kids into amazingly successful adults. Good work, Acadia. Thank god for you.
I used to save my change from my school lunch and buy jawbreakers at a creepy “candy store” directly across from my elementary school. They cost 10 cents for a teeny box with like 5 in it. I always bit them before they were dissolved enough to do so. I have industrial strength teeth, thank goodness.
This reminds me. Have you seen the ridiculous movie Jawbreaker? If not, make sure to watch it post haste. Both Rose McGowan and Marilyn Manson are in it. Do you need to know anything more? Also it’s from 1999 so it fits the theme.
“Game of Thrones where everyone wears dickies” May have just saved my weekend. You’d give Carolyn Chute a run for the money if you ever put these stories together.
Before Warheads we did these types of challenges with Atomic Fireballs and cinnamon Jolly Ranchers
I used to LOVE warheads! I fondly remember having a competition with my friends on how many we could stuff in our mouths without losing our minds over the sourness! 😂