Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Empire State Candy Club

It's been a long time since I've put up one of these souvenir photo folders.  At first, I thought that the Empire State Candy Club was just that, a club, open to the public, a floor show, dancing, food and plenty of alcohol.  But then, I started doing the research and found that it was a trade association of New York state candy distributors.  What was interesting was how I found out.  It doesn't look as if this particular association is in business any more, so I didn't find their web site.  I found references to them in the University of California San Francisco Tobacco Documents Library Collection.  One reference was an ad, taken by the Candy Club, in the program for the annual convention of The New York Association of Tobacco Sellers from September of 1963.  The other, a cancelled check from The Tobacco Institute for the purchase of a ticket to  the Fortieth Annual Empire State Candy Club Clambake in 1983.

I know, it seems a little weird that candy sellers would be connected to tobacco distributors, but then I started to remember the small town five and dime that sold me candy bars when I was a child.  Sloan's had a huge counter that filled the back wall of the store.  One half was candy and the other half was smokeless tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes.  And what separated the two?  Candy cigarettes and shredded chewing gum in snuff tins and tobacco pouches.  On entrance to junior high school, average age about twelve, students were allowed to chew tobacco or dip snuff.  At sixteen, with a parental permission slip, students were allowed to hang out in their very own smoking room.  That was a long time ago.  I was born in 1955, started grade school in 1960, and junior high in 1967.  And the fact is, back then, that arrangement was fairly common in small town America.

A lot of my classmates chewed tobacco.  As a life long hater of tobacco, I was very, very unhappy to be sitting next to a guy spitting tobacco juice into a paper cup.  It made it hard to concentrate in class.  And using the water fountains, with puddles of brown spit....disgusting.  And I would bet, that if I could go back in time and make a count, at least a third, perhaps even half of the boys in my class had permission slips from their parents to smoke.  I may be wrong, but if memory serves, that wasn't the case with the girls.  It makes me wonder how many of my classmates died of cancer.

Over the years, I've put up quite a few of these folders.  Click on souvenir photo folders or night clubs to bring up the others.

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