USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘candy’
Legends
Magic
Narrative

Meteor Candy

*Note: Taylor is a member of the student organization USC Troy Camp, a group that mentors/tutors students in the South Central L.A. area and raises funds during the year to send 200 elementary schoolchildren from South L.A. to a week-long summer camp in Idyllwild, CA. This week-long camp is completely run by the counselors, and through the year many legends and traditions have developed that are upheld/told each year at camp, carried on by newer counselors as older ones graduate. Because I am also a member of Troy Camp, she didn’t provide any context for this, so I figured I’d do so to minimize confusion. This particular story is the story of the meteor candy, which we tell to campers outside on a big grassy field under the stars at night.

COLLECTOR (myself): So tell the story we tell the kids, and then also explain what we do with the candy.”

 

INFORMANT: “Okay, so we’re sitting out on the field with our cabin, and we tell them we have a very special story to tell. Okay, so…

Years ago, before any of us were in Troy Camp, there was a family who lived in Idyllwild in a little cabin up in the mountains. There was a little girl and her mother and father, and one day the mother got very sick, and the girl and her father went out down the mountain to try to get the medicine that could save her. They walked many miles to town and got the medicine, but as they were walking back through the forest, suddenly the sky FLASHED and something huge fell from the sky. BOOM! It was a giant meteor! It crushed all the trees and sent smoke and debris everywhere, and the girl and her dad got separated. They called out and called out, but they were too far away – they could barely hear each other. There was so much smoke and it was so dark that neither one could see the other. The girl sits down in defeat and begins to cry. She picks up a piece of the meteor and throws it in anger… but when it hits the ground, it creates a bright spark! The girl has an idea. She picks up more pieces of the meteor and throws them, creating sparks each time. Suddenly, from all the way across the clearing, through the smoke, she sees a spark. Her father has seen the sparks, and now he’s throwing pieces of the meteor too!! The girl and her dad keep throwing meteor pieces and making sparks until they’re close enough to hear each other and then to see each other. They gave each other a big hug and continued back up the mountain to give the mother her medicine. The meteorite had cleared a big hole in the forest, a lot like the field we’re sitting in right now. But the best part was that the candy shop down the road got little bits of the meteor all over it, so the candy they make still has liiiittle pieces of the meteorite in it. Did you notice the candy shop we passed on the way up [of course, we didn't pass a candy shop, but none of the kids were looking out for one, so this part gives the story more validity]? We have some of these candies for you tonight.

And then we give each camper a mint Lifesaver, but like they don’t know it’s a Lifesaver, and we tell them to turn to a partner and chew the Lifesaver. And when they bite into the Lifesaver, usually it makes a tiny little spark in their mouths. It’s really cool, I don’t know why it does that.

Thoughts:

This is one of my favorite TC traditions, because the younger kids are usually totally amazed. Some of the older kids figure out that the candy is just a Lifesaver, or they look for the candy shop on the bus ride back down the mountain and notice it doesn’t exist, but most of the campers are completely captivated by the meteor story. It helps because we tell the story in a big clearing, so we can pretend that’s the spot where the meteorite hit many years before. After we tell the story, usually the cabins lay out and look at the stars, because a lot of the campers haven’t really seen many stars in their lifetime because they’ve never left LA.

The story doesn’t have much of a message, but it’s a fun way to bond the cabins and contribute to Troy Camp lore to make the campgrounds seem almost magical. This story, like Mary Brown, is told slightly differently by each counselor who tells it, though the general elements remain the same.

 

Customs
folk metaphor
Folk speech
Foodways
Material
Protection

To a Sweet Performance

To a Sweet Performance

Informant: Every time before a performance, our band teacher will pass out licorice or some form of candy, usually licorice, then raises up the licorice and says, “this goes to a sweet performance”. Then we all raise up our licorice and then we eat it.

Interviewer: And why does he do it?

Informant: Because that’s what his college band director did.

Interviewer: and what college did he go to?

Informant: I’m not sure if it was his high school or college, but I’m pretty sure its his college . . . U Mass? It’s U Mass.

Interviewer: Typically what setting does this take place in?

Informant: It happens before a performance so usually in the band room or on a bus in the parking lot.

Interviewer’s notes:

The eating of food, has come to be a sort of protection ritual for the performance of the band. As a folk metaphor, the actual “sweet” of the candy can be transferred to a metaphorically “sweet” performance, possibly as a type of contagious magic. Additionally, the proliferation of the ritual is evident as it moves from Massachusetts to Southern California, with the band director who has chosen to share this particular tradition with the kids.

 

Childhood
Folk Beliefs
Magic

The Lollipop Tree

Growing up there were a lot of hills all around our home and neighborhood wherever you looked. You could also see hills way out in the distance on the bus to and from elementary school. There was this one tree on one of the hills that was way, way the farthest away. It came up straight and narrow with no branches until you got to the top of the tree, which was a perfect circle. It was basically a lollipop-looking tree. I don’t know how we knew it was a tree or how we could only see that tree from far away, but it seemed to be the only tree on the hill, and it sat perfectly at the top center of the hill.
Anyway, what some of the kids would say was that it was the “lollipop tree,” and if you somehow got passed all the hills and made your way up close to it, if you said something true you would get a fistful of lollipops. But if you lied near the tree, or touching it, something terrible would happen. Like maybe you or a loved one would die.
Some people said if you lied just while looking at it, even from so far away on the bus, you could get into some serious trouble.
That tree must have been a big deal, because sometimes a bus driver would even yell, “There’s the lollipop tree!” And they’d point at it out the windshield.

The story of the lollipop tree is a cautionary tale meant to teach good behavior to the children of the rural community. While sometimes the legend served as a right of initiation, as adults or older children who no longer believed in the magic would tell younger children to encourage honesty or to frighten them, it also served as a myth for why there was such a strange, distinctive tree on the town skyline. The tree was visible enough that it aroused curiosity, but so far away that not many people seemed to know the truth of why it was there alone, or if it was even a tree.

Game
general
Kinesthetic
Musical

Kit Kat Bar Hand-Game

Kit Kat Bar Hand-Game

^^^KIT KAT BAR HAND-GAME VIDEO LINK

Lyrics to the jingle:

Verse 1:
Gimme a break
Gimme a break
Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat Bar

Verse 2:
The chocolate-y taste
Makes my day
Walkin down the street
Hear the people say

“I probably learned that in middle school with all the other hand game things, like waiting in line for recess or something. I originally played it cuz it wasted time, and even now if you’re like waiting around for something or there’s literally nothing else to do. Whoever did it the fastest was the coolest, you know. It became like a competition or whatever. (laughs) The boys probably thought we were so stupid. I mean, the first verse, isn’t that the real jingle? I dunno about the second verse, some girl probably made it up.”

My informant was laughing the entire time she showed me how to play this hand-game. We have two classes together that are back to back twice a week, and one day we got out very early in the first class and sat in the hallway with nothing to do, just waiting for our next class to start. Because we were together, the dumb games on her smartphone got boring quickly and we found ourselves talking about how we’d play hand-games in middle school and high school to pass the time. A hand-game that I knew about McDonald’s prompted her to teach me the Kit Kat Bar hand-game which I had never heard of. She then taught me and we tried to get faster and faster at it, and it prompted a lot of laughs and the time passed very quickly. Two college students, playing hand-games in our University hallway. Our teacher even passed by us and asked us what we were doing, but she thought it was funny and we clearly were having fun with it, singing about a chocolate candy bar and playing a game typically played by kids 10 years younger than us. That we did this reflects not just our absolute boredom, but the integration of consumer products into everyday lives. After so many years I still remembered the song to a number of hand games, many of which refer to food and restaurants, and my informant obviously remembered the jingle from the Kit Kat Bar commercial. It’s very American, and we probably will never forget these games, those that sucked us into the world of advertising and friendly competition, but also promoted camaraderie 10 years later. The power of boredom and nostalgia should not be underestimated.

Customs
Foodways
general
Holidays

Pepero Day — Korean Singles Awareness Day

Pepero (빼빼로) is a cookie stick, dipped in chocolates syrup, manufactured by the Lotte company in South Korea:

Pepero (빼빼로)

Pepero Day is an observance in South Korea similar to Valentine’s Day. It is named after Pepero and held on November 11th, because the date “11/11″ resembles four sticks of Pepero.

My informant spent her childhood in Korea and moved to Irvine, California upon her entrance into high school. Irvine as a city has a significant Korean population–as such, Korean and other Asian-American students at her high school celebrated Pepero Day every year. However, though it is unclear whether this is a regional or a Korean-American variation, Pepero Day at her high school focused more on people who were single than couples, because they saw the Pepero sticks as symbolizing people standing upright, on their own, without need for another person. This could be because of the nature of her high school, which, while ranked in the top ten of the best high schools in America, with its ultra-high SAT scores and proliferation of AP classes, was apparently sadly lacking (according to her) in the area of romance and relationships. “People were always too busy to date,” She said. “They were married to their grades, basically, and any other kind of relationship was a sort of cheating because it might bring their grades down.”

This was, obviously, not the case for the entire school, and she may have been exaggerating; however, it is clear that her Korean and other Asian-American friends had somehow shifted this day to reflect their own plight, making it a joke about their studiousness by labeling it a kind of “Singles Awareness Day.” Traditionally, my informant said, in Korea, the holiday is observed by young people and couples, who exchange Pepero sticks and other romantic gifts. At her school, people walked around with boxes of Pepero, handing them out to their friends and saying things like, “Better luck next year!” or “Happy Singles Day!” Oftentimes, people who were in relationships were denied Pepero sticks, and jokingly told, “You’re in a couple, you don’t need a Pepero for companionship!”

 

Folk Beliefs
Foodways
general
Legends
Material
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Pop Rocks Legend

My informant told me of a myth he heard when he was young that involved a candy called Pop Rocks. Pop Rocks are little pieces of hard candy that pop and crack when one puts them inside his or her mouth. He explained to me that it has been believed that if one was to eat these Pop Rocks and drink a soda, or any carbonated beverage, at the same time, the combination would make his or her stomach explode.

This is very interesting, because I remember hearing this myth when I was a kid; about nine or ten. My informant is from Riverside, California, and I was living in Encino, California, when I first heard it so it seems that this version has diffused throughout multiple areas. Whether there is actually any evidence that such a result could occur from this combination remains to be seen. Neither one of us, my informant nor myself, has ever witnessed the result of ingesting the combination in person, therefore I can safely say that this myth remains nothing more.

[geolocation]