Nostalgia: Astro Pops!

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This is my favorite candy from my childhood. The wrapper says Astro Pop, but I always knew it as a pirulí.

I think I loved it so much because it was a rare treat. My grandparents usually bought these for me when I visited with them, first in New Jersey when I was a very little girl, and then a little later, in Miami.

I don’t recall seeing them at the grocery store, where Hershey bars were front and center (and also a big time favorite of mine), but the pirulís seemed to be at every check out line in the little hispanic markets. In fact, it was the only place I ever saw them.

I guess that’s why they were so special. Because it was an occasion to get one.

Everything about the pops is unique. My favorite part, the first, yellow layer, was so tasty and sweet. I couldn’t quite place the flavor when I was a kid but grown-up me knows it’s supposed to be pineapple. It’s more like cream soda as far as I’m concerned, but I’ll let the manufacturers call it pineapple if they want. It’s followed by passion fruit, another flavor I couldn’t have identified as a child, but the bottom layer, the toxic cherry, was easy enough to name.

I usually lost interest in the candy once I had licked the yellow top into a fiercely dangerous point so sharp it could cut. I know this because I once drew blood testing the point. What’s not to love about a confection that doubles as a weapon? I wonder if the TSA confiscates it along with the nail clippers.

Another reason I rarely finished it was because the base was stuck to a chunk of hard wax. Who wants that crumbling in their mouth?

Still, every once in a while, I’ll smell some pineapple candy and it will remind me of the pirulís I enjoyed (or at least, half-enjoyed) when I was a kid, and it takes me back to those days. I see the same clear, shiny, toxic colors of today’s Jolly Ranchers and wonder why they don’t taste as good as those Astro Pops.

I know why I love pirulis, and it has nothing to do with stabbing my little brother with the sharp point, or even a highly tuned palate that appreciates pineapple and passion fruit. No, it’s because the sight, and the smell, and definitely the taste of this candy transports me to a time in my life when everything was perfect. When happiness wasn’t fleeting and order was the norm.

Perhaps that perception is as artificial as the colors and flavors in the candy, but one thing is for sure: it is reminiscent of a beautiful time in my life full of love and family. What could be sweeter than that?

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