It’s Christmas morning. And my birthday. I’m not sure what age: old enough to know better, yet young enough to think I can get away with it.
The living room is in tatters after five kids rip open their Christmas presents. In our stockings are individual packs of Fruit Stripe gum. Five juicy flavors! My favorite! We have to get ready for Mass but I beg my parents to let me have just one stick of gum before we go. Just one. I wear them down and they say yes—did I say it was my birthday?
But Fruit Strip gum was known to lose its flavor quickly. Within minutes I was chewing a flavorless piece of rubber. I snuck another stick from my pack, and a few minutes later another, and then another, and finally the last one. I had all five sticks in my mouth. It wasn’t enough. The flavor was disappearing too quickly.
When everyone was busy getting dressed, I surreptitiously stuck my hand in my older brother’s stocking, grabbed his pack, opened it, and started chewing a sixth piece. I carefully put the remainder of his pack back in his stocking.
A few minutes later came the cry from my brother: “Who opened my gum!? Who stole a piece!?”
My parents swung into action. My father quickly confronted me.
“How many pieces of gum are you chewing?”
I had a wad the size of a tennis ball in my mouth. I couldn’t speak. I timidly held up one finger.
I held up two fingers.
Busted. I don’t remember what happened after that. It couldn’t have been too bad: it was Christmas morning—and did I say it was my birthday? My brother’s too; he’s three years older than me.
That day from many years ago came back to me when I read that Fruit Stripe gum is being discontinued. Something about changing consumer tastes (maybe consumers wanting a gum that actually keeps its taste). So can we please have a moment of silence for a fleeting moment of flavor?