Smoking Smarties

May 5, 2010 at 10:10 am 14 comments

You may recall a recent post here at Candy Professor about an old time, long gone candy idea called the “Candy Feeding Bag” that involved sucking flavored powder through a licorice straw. Candy diva Cybele May commented that such an apparatus seemed more about choking hazards and coughing fits than about candy taste. This seemed funny to me, and even funnier when Cybele informed me that kids are doing just that: inhaling, and puffing, and even snorting candy powder, made from smashed up Smarties.

Whaaaa? Yes, it may not be news to you, but it came as news to me: last spring (that’s 2009), teens were doin’ it: “smoking” pulverized Smarties.

No fire is involved. The smoking is more of a special effect. The point, it seems, is to create the effect of blowing smoke with candy powder. Some talented kids can even blow out their noses and make smoke rings (an impressive talent, but one, I fear, that will not likely get them into Harvard).  Since we at Candy Professor are committed to documenting and preserving the cultural candy record, we take up smoking Smarties now, albeit belatedly.

Why, why, why, would kids want to inhale or snort sour candy powder? What is wrong with these kids today?

OK, I know one good reason: it drives certain adults crazy. And another reason, unique to our age: you can get 60,000 hits on YouTube and find yourself featured on FoxNews if you perfect your technique. (Did I mention about how this probably won’t look so great on your college applications? Listen to the Professor, kids.)

Because even if it’s just “pretend smoking,” it looks like a gateway to the real thing, which is definitely not good. OK, I’ll say it: Kids, don’t smoke. But let’s face it. As long as adults have been smoking, kids have been smoking. From that perspective, we should be thankful for those candy cigarettes and chocolate cigars that started showing up at the local candy shop in the 1890s. At least those didn’t foul up the air or blacken your lungs.

Eventually adults started realizing that kids’ smoking was kind of a bad idea. And those candy cigarettes? Obviously sending the wrong message. They were not quite outlawed, but serious pressure from the FTC around 1966-67 helped the tobacco companies and their candy allies to see that maybe a lower candy cigarette profile would be a good idea. Candy cigarettes with packaging imitating popular brands like Camel and Marlboro continued to be sold at kiddie candy counters well into the 1970s. You have to look harder these days, but candy cigarettes have never been made illegal, and in fact there is a wide array of candy versions of cigarettes and cigars to be had, if you know where to look (for example, CandyFavorites.com sells them).

In the 2000s, though, everybody knows to teach the kiddies that smoking is bad, and there are no candy or bubble gum cigarettes at your local CVS. We’ve got the education, the anti-smoking ads, the negative reputation of smoking, and we took away the candy cigs. And still: those blasted kids are pretending to smoke! This time around, instead of the pressed sugar to look like the actual cigarette, it’s pulverized candy to look like the smoke.

Now, I remember hazily my high school days, and if I recall correctly, we tried smoking all kinds of things. I’m talking banana peels, oregeno, eraser rubbings. All perfectly legal, of course. And needless to say, I didn’t inhale. But kids trying to smoke stuff, or light stuff on fire, or create the effect of smoking, well, it’s not a new thing.

In fact, these Smarties smokers aren’t playing with matches. And no one thinks there is anything remotely drug-like in the Smarties that would make anybody “high.” Kind of a nerdy version of bad-a** behavior, when you think about it. The worst that happens is coughing and irritation. Although some doctors speculated you could end up with maggots in your nose, feeding on the sugar powder….

The real victim here is the beleaguered Ce De Candy company, makers of Smarties and… oh, just Smarties. But they come in lots of flavors. Smarties are one of those classic American candies, going back to 1949. And they have a cute web site.

Already, Smarties had a reputation as the kind of candy you give out at Halloween if you’re really cheap and you really don’t like kids. Now this. Eric Ostrow, Ce De vice president for sales and marketing, sounded a little mournful when the Wall Street Journal asked him about all the attention:

It could be done with anything made with sugar and compressed — Necco Wafers, Conversation Hearts, SweeTarts. Lik-M-Aid is already pulverized and so is Pixy Stix. I don’t want to be complimented that we’re the No. 1 choice.

But it’s pretty funny. You can blow Smarties smoke to look like you’re smoking when you’re not, or you can suck on one of those new Camel Orbs, so no one will know you’re smoking when actually you are. Crazy world.

Related Post: Tobacco Candy

Smarties Image: Uploaded by Wikipedia user CoolKid1993 under CC.  Sources: “Goddard Suggests Candy Cigarettes Be Discontinued,” New York Times June 15, 1966; Jocelyn Elders, Preventing Tobacco Abuse Among Young People, a Report of the Surgeon General, “Candy Cigarettes” (171-172); Dionne Searcy, “Just Say No….to Smarties? Faux Smoking Has Parents Fuming,” Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2009. Around the Blogs: Cybele reviews Giant Smarties at candyblog.net; Richard reviews candy cigarettes at The Bewildered Brit.

Entry filed under: Candy and Addiction, Children and Candy, Current Candy News. Tags: , , , .

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14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Madame Yum Yum  |  May 13, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    I wrote about this a while ago: http://candyyumyum.blogspot.com/2009/03/kids-smoking-smarties-thats-some-crazy.html

    Pretty funny, in a kids-are-so-stupid kind of way!

    Reply
    • 2. Candy Professor  |  May 13, 2010 at 9:10 pm

      I’ll say! Thanks for sharing your fun post. I’m a little behind the curve here, pretty typical for us professor types.

      Reply
  • 3. Leona  |  May 19, 2010 at 2:19 am

    Gads, Smarties a gateway candy? Who’d thought? Kids, stay in school!

    Reply
  • 4. More Smokin’ Candy « Candy Professor  |  August 2, 2010 at 8:59 am

    [...] Smoking Smarties [...]

    Reply
  • 5. Z.N.G. (Trying to keep my identity secret, people!)  |  November 11, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Earlier today in Science – I`m a 6th grader at FHSD`s Hollenbeck Middleschool- I saw my friend Ian inhaling crushed Smarties and then blowing it out. And last week, in my Ac Lab class, I saw James, a 7th Grader, sniffing up a pile of Smarties dust. My Geography class has these banned now, because of this. What the heck is wrong with people like this?

    Reply
    • 6. Candy Professor  |  November 11, 2011 at 4:48 pm

      Yikes! By the way, I grew up un Sunnyvale.

      Reply
  • 7. KillKam77  |  December 19, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    I dont tink smokin smartees is bad cuz it has no tobacco ah duh duh

    Reply
  • 8. Juliee  |  October 18, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    I dont get the point of this at stevenson middle school my friend smoke smarties but i think to my mind what can thoughs candy do to yuh i think to myself if yuh could get nose bleed for doing that thats my question.

    Reply
  • 9. kole  |  December 10, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    i think it is pretty dumb but im in 7th grade and i think it is the most stupid thing to do just because it looks cool

    Reply
  • 10. victoria  |  December 16, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    im in 7th grade to i use to smoke it once and it look cool but really now that im really seeing where my path could go by doing this i just stop completely and athoughter thing maggots in your nose so gross

    Reply
  • 11. christyn  |  January 9, 2013 at 10:16 am

    i think it is cool but when you grow up it wont be smarties it will be cigaretts or weed

    Reply
  • 12. Smartiez  |  October 28, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Heck. Smoking smartiez is fun, though it portraits the wrong idea. Idk if it’s bad for you or not, but EVERYONE at my middle school does it.
    -Smartiez

    Reply
    • 13. Candy Professor  |  October 28, 2013 at 12:17 pm

      But I really want to know: WHY is it fun? Although I confess that we did try “smoking” all kinds of stuff in middle school when I was a kid, um, I mean, not me personally but…

      Reply
  • 14. TROLLzOr  |  November 6, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    I smoke smarties and get straight a’s. also STUPID kids actually Inhale it to there lungs I just suck in my mouth and blow out with more dust and I can do creative stuff with it( I did not mean that gayly or sexual [peverts])

    Reply

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Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure

Welcome to Candy Professor

Candy in American Culture What is it about candy? Here you'll find the forgotten, the strange, the curious, the surprising. Our candy story, one post at a time.

Samira Kawash, PhD
Professor Emerita,
Rutgers University

(C) Samira Kawash

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