There are many odd candies on the market. Many of them are designed to appeal to someone’s sense of humor; the gum that lets you talk to your cat, for example. Others attempt to appeal to a sense of (mild) adventure, such as bacon flavored jelly beans.
It requires a rare candy to rely upon history and the supernatural to make sales. “Ghost candy for child raising” is such a treat.
As one would hope with ghost candy, there’s a story attached.
About four hundred years ago, a shopkeeper in Japan was visited by a woman in white shortly before he closed for the evening. She bought only some candy, then left
The next night, it happened again. And again. Every night, the same woman would come just as he was closing for the night to purchase candy. While this would normally be a matter of curiosity, it moved into the level of probable theft when the shopkeeper would discover, the next morning, not money but leaves in his coin box.
Japan has legends about trickster foxes called kitsune, and the storeowner suspected that might be his issue. One night after the woman purchased candy, he surreptitiously followed her… into a graveyard, whereupon she disappeared.
Standing there befuddled, he heard a muffled crying from one of the graves. Proceeding to dig it up, he found a living newborn nestled in the arms of a corpse and sucking on some candy. The corpse, supposedly, was of a woman who had recently died shortly before childbirth. The infant was her own child, who’d been kept alive by the candy from the woman’s ghost.
It’s been hundreds of years, and the store is still there in the same Higashiyama area of Kyoto City, even though a temple has been raised nearby. The original coin box is supposedly still in use, and the shop continues to sell the same candy, which has come to be credited with powers of good fortune. Syrup and sugar, mixed together until crystallized and then shattered into pieces.
They don’t sell anything else these days, just the ghost candy for child raising. According to one television review, the candy’s quite tasty.
It doesn’t sound like much to me, but I’m not inclined to argue with the tastes of maternal ghosts.
Question of the night: what’s your favorite old-fashioned or discontinued/specialty store candy?