Jawbreaker

Jawbreaker

Jawbreaker

Did you or do you love jawbreakers? I used to. I would walk to and from school and was given a little allowance for making my bed and trying to be nice, and so once a week I would go to the Reynolds Street Market and buy a treat on the way home from school. The Reynolds Street Market was half way home on the longer but more neighborhoody walk home. It was one of those small, dark, neighborhood grocers that popped up next to a beauty salon or a dress shop in the middle of a residential area, offering the full range of food from bunny bread to milk, canned goods, and a butcher case. These grocers all worked on cash at the register and or handwritten bills which allowed a family to charge to their account. Very exotic to my thinking.

Reynolds Street also had a wonderful assortment of candy, penny candy, and promotional candy that whimsically appealed to me (and surprisingly, though I dont like to eat it, to me today for the sheer glory of its decorative quality, its design and packaging, for its humor and promised fun). Whoever was picking out the candy knew their audience--and had us in their thrall with candy cigarettes and pink gum cigars, lollipops and licorice, caramel bulllseyes with a chalky sugar center and turkish taffy which was advertised on teevee --encouraging kids to "smack it" before eating it.  How indulgent to have a little change and a load of choices all chocked with sugar, color and artificial flavor. One week it would be fireballs, another would be wax bottles with really gross and artificial syrupy brilliant liquid. Some weeks (around Halloween generally) wax teeth, wax lips and even wax fingernails. At one point, I was crazy into these packs of collectible cards with buttons that had Mad Magazine style illustrations of popular culture things or prepackaged food with a twist. I thought these buttons and cards were the hottest thing...and I, by having them, also was the hottest thing. Did I mention, no one else knew how cool I was? No...because I never shared this with anyone until today, with you.

Now, when it came to jawbreakers, Reynolds Street Market had the small ones in the mode of Fireballs (hot cinnamon jawbreakers), but they also had my favorite, the giant Jawbreaker. This baby was a bit less than 2" in diameter, like a golf ball--and one would hold it and lick it until it got big enough to fit in your mouth. The cool thing beyond it just being a big hunk of sugar was that it was layered in color, so as you ate it...or salivated on it or whatever, the temptation was great to pull it out of your mouth and observe the glory of the color change. Plus, if you are the talent I am, you would either drop it, roll it on your sweater, or gum it up in some way that it would be covered in dirt, hair or sweater wool before popping it back in your mouth. Oh, so lovely.

Now why all this talk about candy? Am I nostalgic for a time gone by? No. Another thing entirely. I subscribe to this wonderful email alert which is the Visual Thesaurus.

The Visual Thesaurus is a remarkable site which introduces new words (never can have enough words, right?) and displays them in a very interesting, visual, diagramatic way... which is inspiring to me from a design standpoint, but also is an interesting place to brainstorm ideas and words  (when I am helping someone name a product or service). Love this tool. Great timewaster. However, today was a glorious jawbreaker of a word:

A U T O C H T H O N O U S

Take that! Glorious Autochthonous (ah talk then oos). As the Visual Thesaurus neatly describes:

"No Place Like Home Word of the Day:

The adjective native serves many different purposes. Today's adjective autochthonous provides an opportunity to give one meaning of native a rest so you can employ a fifty dollar word in its place. Autochthonous is used to characterize rocks or organisms (including people) that are found in the place where they originated."

Don't you love it. LOVE autochthonous. And, Dictionary.com had a sensational quote that captured it...that somehow prompts me to love folkloric art even more.

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"Folk Art grew from below. It was a spontaneous, autochthonous expression of the people, shaped by themselves, pretty much without the benefit of High Culture, to suit their own needs. Mass Culture is imposed from above. It is fabricated by technicians hired by businessmen; its audiences are passive consumers, their participation limited to the choice between buying and not buying.... Folk Art was the people's own institution, their private little garden walled off from the great formal park of their masters' High Culture. But Mass Culture breaks down the wall, integrating the masses into a debased form of High Culture and thus becoming an instrument of political domination. "

Dwight MacDonald (1906–1982), U.S. journalist, critic. "A Theory of Mass Culture," Mass Culture: The Popular Arts in America, eds. B. Rosenberg and D.M. White, Free Press (1959).

So there you have it. Whimsy. Candy and a brand new word that means local....native, vernacular. So you can have your local candy and sound smart saying it....Well, you know what I mean.

Off to the salt mines. Lets see if we have something to talk about tomorrow. I hope so.