As a kid, there are no two things more enticing in the world than candy and toys. So when the two combine together in some way it can have quite an irresistible impact. While PEZ dispensers might be the undisputed king in this novelty treat category, another contender from my youth that still tugs at nostalgic heartstrings is Garbage Can-dy.
Vividly I remember purchasing this Topps candy at the convenience store near my Grandmaâ€™s house. The package consisted of a small plastic garbage can that you could pop the lid off of to open. Inside you would find a variety of colorful shaped pieces of candy â€œgarbageâ€: fish bones, bottles, old tennis shoes, cans, etc.
The candy was your typical fruit-flavored candy pieces, not as bland as American Smarties but not as tangy as Pez. It was sweet and it served its purpose, and after I was finished scarfing down each sugary piece I still had my cool little colored garbage can to play with. It was always the perfect size to use with my Star Wars figures. At one point I recall having at least a half dozen of the Can-dy cans, each stuffed with the multitude of miniature weapons and accessories that my action figures came with. Good times!
Garbage Can-dy (along with Wacky Packages and Garbage Pail Kids) were the invention of Art Spiegelman, who at the time was working in the product development department at Topps Bubble Gum. Years later, Spiegelman went on to earn a special Pulitzer Prize honoring his graphic novel memoir of the holocaust Maus for which he was the writer and artist. You rarely hear of the people directly responsible for the little things you loved as a kid, and I couldnâ€™t help but share this interesting little fact. (Thanks Art!)
The years have passed and I couldnâ€™t tell you the last time I remember seeing Garbage Can-dy sold in a store. Iâ€™ve found some evidence that something similar is still being sold, but the garbage cans look taller than the Topps version and the candy inside is apparently not the same. Iâ€™ll just have to chalk this up to one more instance of a favorite candy of my youth being discontinued to perhaps never be seen again.