Warning: This post could either be a bit of a walk down memory lane for you, or make you more weirded out than ever by my family.
To borrow one of Jack’s favorite phrasings, “raise your hand who remembers Sen-Sen.”
My first memory of Sen-Sen is one of my earliest; I think I was three or four years old. Kathy and I were sitting with one of our boy cousins on our grandparents’ front porch, away from the grown-ups. Laughing all sinister-like, I’m sure, he put a couple in my hand after I asked what he was eating. I always saw the boy cousins taking hits from these little red packets, and sure it must therefore be candy, I wanted some. That cousin later got scolded for giving them to me, and I vaguely remember my mom “tsk-tsk”-ing at me when she found out I tried them. Probably because Kathy blabbed.
After my taste-test, I couldn’t understand why the boy cousins were always eating those things; to me, Sen-Sen tasted really icky, and nothing like the black mini-Chiclets they resembled. They weren’t exactly sweet, but instead had a really, really strong flavor. Then someone—possibly one of the girl cousins, or more likely, Kathy in one of her frequent older-and-wiser-sister lectures—told me the boy cousins ate them not because they were delicious, but because they covered up cigarette breath. That’s when Sen-Sen became less a curiosity to me and more, well, exactly what they are: naughty little candies.
Sen-Sen is, in fact, licorice-flavored. Well, kinda. They say Sen-Sen tastes like licorice, but I actually like the taste of black licorice (especially in Sambuca form) and I can still remember those “candies” tasting a lot more like black pepper than black licorice. I read that they used to be marketed as a “breath perfume,” which is totally believable because they definitely have the taste of something that is not meant to be eaten. In the 35+ years since my unfortunate introduction to Sen-Sen, I’ve seen them in stores just a handful of times. It seems they’re not very common anymore—maybe because Altoids do the job just as well without making one’s mouth taste like ass???
In my last post I mentioned searching for pictures of my grandpa. In one that I e-mailed to my favorite girl cousin (Deanna, who’s about ten years older than me and therefore waaay better at remembering the funniest and weirdest of what it means to be a Saltmarsh), I look a bit less than thrilled at being held by Grandpa. She replied to tell me this:
Look at you. That cracks me up. He probably gave you Sen-Sen.
As the person who was on the other side of the camera, what insight do you have, Mom?
On one of the surprisingly numerous web sites where these naughty little candies can be purchased, customers have shared their Sen-Sen memories. Most are much happier than mine. EmCityGuy, you grew up in the sticks and probably snuck a smoke here and there—you must have some Sen-Sen story to share…