Another American institution is headed down the road to nostalgia. I ran across a story this week that announced the two-stick Popsicle soon won’t be available in grocery stores.
It seems the Popsicle makers have given in to complaints from mothers that the two-stick Popsicle was too inconvenient and messy, so starting this spring only one-stick versions – to be sold in boxes of 12 – will be put in supermarket freezers. The two-sticker still will be available at convenience stores, amusement parks and from sidewalk pushcarts, but I suspect that won’t last much longer.
For more than 50 years, the two-stick Popsicle has been as much a part of spring and summer as baseball and swimming. The original purpose of the two-sticker was so two friends cold split one Popsicle, thus providing a lesson in sharing as well as refreshment.
But mothers – who never seemed to appreciate the importance of such things – felt the two-sticker was too big for their children to handle and was too messy since it often started to melt before it was finished, And moms tend to have their way eventually. While the story said mothers were the primary Popsicle purchasers, everyone knows kids are the primary Popsicle consumers. I’ve never seen a kid yet who couldn’t handle a Popsicle, and usually the messier it was, the better it tasted.
Oh, for the days when all the cares of the world could fade away with one lick of a cherry Popsicle. Grape and orange Popsicles also had the power to solve difficulties and relieve the heat. The Popsicle’s ice cream cousins – the chocolate Fudgesicle and orange-flavored Dreamsicle – also had those miraculous powers.
And the fun didn’t end when the Popsicle was gone, either. When you finished eating the cool confection, you had two sticks to play with. With a little imagination, one could make a reasonable facsimile of an airplane with nothing more than two Popsicle sticks and the sticky residue left on them. The more industrious of my childhood associates would clean their sticks and save them for more elaborate projects. Many a vacation Bible school class has turned out Popsicle picture frames.
Before he passed away, Kim’s grandfather created Popsicle stick lamps, one of which we have. It works better than the factory-made lamps we have.
And it was the desire for a cherry Popsicle that sent me on my first covert mission when I was about 5. We lived two blocks from a small mom-and-pop grocery store, and one summer day I developed a craving for a Popsicle. Company was over that Sunday afternoon, so it would not have been proper etiquette for Mom or Dad to take me to the store.
So, already having the necessary 10 cents in my pocket and not wanting to other my parents, I struck out on my own in search of the fabled Popsicle.
Being Sunday afternoon, there weren’t too many folks stirring, and I didn’t have to worry about traffic along Browning Street. Carefully following a course along the correct side of the street, I made my way to the store, which sat beside a state highway. There, with all the deliberateness of H.L. Hunt picking an oil lease, I chose just the right cherry Popsicle.
My decision was based on the heft of the icy treat, its bright red color and the number of ice crystals that had formed on its wrapper. Having picked what had to be the tastiest of the Popsicles from the ice cream freezer, I handed the lady working behind the counter my 10 cents.
I unwrapped my treasures treat as I’d been taught and properly disposed of the wrapper in a trashcan before starting back home. Oh, it was so sweet and cold and refreshing as I walked back up Browning Street licking my Popsicle. When I got back to the house, I discovered I hadn’t been missed. It wasn’t until I told my parents about my little sojourn that they realized I’d been gone. Fortunately, I received only a stern lecture about wandering off on my own and was advised to seek permission before making any future road trips.
I hadn’t thought of that little adventure until I saw the Popsicle story this week. And since it had been a while since I’d had a Popsicle, I stopped off at E-Z Mart to buy one. A cherry Popsicle. It cost a little more than 10 cents, but it still was just as refreshing as Popsicles ever were.
And it had two sticks, just as a Popsicle should.