Sunday, September 27, 2009

Lime Starbursts (and Conejos Cabins)

It pains me that 1) I can't find a single picture of the glorious candy that was once lime Starbursts, and 2) that so many people nowadays have no inkling that there was such a creation. But yes, way back during the disco era, when Starbursts first happened on the scene, they included lime, and cherry was nowhere to be found. I was sore, SORE disappointed one day in the early '80s to find that lime had disappeared forever. Have to admit that cherry was a pretty grand substitute...for about six months. Then the suckitude took over the novelty, and cherry has sat at the bottom of the pile for me ever since. Strawberry has always reigned supreme, with orange, lemon, and lime (back in the day) jockeying for second. Really, they all were good.

Just like food can transport you if you let it, I can imagine the taste, smell, and texture of lime Starbursts, and immediately I'm taken back to summer trips down to southern Colorado, in the middle of nowhere a stone's throw from New Mexico. Conejos Cabins was the place to be, and you got there via a LOOONG drive south from Denver through South Park (yes, there really is such a place, and it's truly gorgeous) and along the Arkansas river, past the Great Sand Dunes, and even still a few hours further south. (Obligatory soundtrack: The Carpenters' Horizon. Oh, and probably some John Denver and Mac Davis thrown in there, too.) Then you took a dirt road for 20 miles(!) or so until you hit the Conejos River, in the middle of a beautiful valley. Heaven. The rustic cabins all smelled a bit like natural gas, and Mom always served slightly crunchy and perfect Krusteaz pancakes with bacon for breakfast, alongside Tang (and coffee for the grown-ups). The skies were seldom flawed with clouds, and if rain fell, it was usually a quiet, comforting rain. Board games like Sorry! and Parcheesi came along for the ride, as did my Speak & Spell. (Fast forward 10 years or so to see the end result of my obsession with said gadget.) Dad went fishing virtually every day with our golden retriever Duchess, and our sandy Jeep Wagoneer perpetually smelled like wet dog and freshly-caught trout. My brother and I, the best of friends at this point, would wander the side of the frigid Conejos and throw seaweed-covered rocks into the river, scaring away fish and inevitably angering our dad, trying to catch dinner for us all. And the air was as clean as you could ever hope for, aside from the road dust which coated your mouth as you drove off with the windows open. But those luscious lime Starbursts took care of that.

I will admit that the lime Tootsie Rolls do offer a very good approximation of what I've missed for years and years, both in flavor and texture. But I just plain miss opening up the square candies with the wax paper folded just so, seeing the light green jewel in my hands and biting it in two to see how white the center got. (I was always convinced that Starbursts were white in the center. Such a silly kid.) Until Mars/Starburst decides to bring back lime (and not in a limited-time, retro sort of way, but for good), I'll always feel like my life is somehow incomplete.

Thus ends the solipsistic trip down memory lane. I now return you to your regularly scheduled life.

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