The year was 1977 and (I imagine) most of you weren’t even born yet. Stars Wars had not been digitally butchered — err, re-mastered. Star Trek only consisted of one generation, and William Shatner had not learned to negotiate his own price. The Internet was a military secret, and George W. Bush was drunk (not that you would notice a difference). I was dressed as Luke Skywalker and holding an old pillow case shouting, “Halloween apples” at the top of my cigarette stain-free lungs.
The door opened in front of me and an old lady smiled down at me, reaching to her side to grab a handful of unknown booty. I closed my eyes and prayed that it was not a box of raisins, or worse yet, an apple that my mother would throw out due to the non-existent epidemic of razor-equipped treats. As I heard the old woman say, “Here you go young man,” I opened my eyes and saw the item that I would covet every Halloween from that year on: Rockets. Yes, those teeny, tiny pill-like sweets.
The cylindrical package, twist tied on both ends, contains 10 pale coloured candies; each I suppose is meant to represent a different flavour, but I defy anyone to tell the difference in a blind taste test. They have the tart and sweet dynamic of SweeTarts, but are more portable. Their small size and rather cheap price allows for several units of sour goodness to be doled out per child. Even weeks after Halloween one can still find a stray package under the bed or in the corner of your pillowcase.
I loved Rockets; they were my crack. I can still remember sitting on the bathroom floor fumbling with the package, trying to break them up so I could cook them in the spoon before mainlining my fix. My weeping mother stood on the other side of the door begging for me to get help, or at least eat a vegetable. It was no use; I was chasing the sour dragon. Nothing compared with the first taste, but I couldn’t stop trying to replicate it. I eventually found help in a 12-step program for elementary-aged Rocket addicts. I now counsel new addicts who can’t seem kick the Rocket habit. The sad thing is how young they are these days. When I was young, the average addict was six or seven years old, now I am seeing kids as young 18 months looking to kick the habit.
In the end, notwithstanding the dangers of addiction, Rockets are now, and will forever be, the best Halloween treat of all time. My only regret is that I am now reduced to giving away more than I eat. This is the true tragedy of adulthood.