Today I go into candy shops and see little bottles of liquid Warhead sour substances and Warhead sour spray. But I can never find what I am really looking for: sour, sweat-producing, face-pinching, tongue-twisting, and eye-watering, irresistible, Warhead sucking candies.
I know it sounds weird making so much fuss over something so little as a sucking candy, but it is more than a sour sucking candy to me, it is a memory to me, one memory that has been wrapped, packed and sent from Japan.
It all started way back in second grade. Fraser and I met each other the year before but that year in second grade was the year of the Warhead! If you did not know any better, you would say Fraser and I were twins. He is slightly taller than me, but he has brown hair, and blue eyes, two of the many features we share. In fact, I, one of the two “twins,” had mistaken him for me. I was walking into my second-grade classroom when I saw a picture of me on the floor. I thought it was Fraser’s and ran to give it to him. This is how much we look alike. Fraser was a really nice kid. He was a bright and clever kid. He always came up with ideas that everybody agreed on. Even though he was Australian, he did not have an accent. He was someone who was ready to do anything, anytime, anywhere, even if it meant his life. But the thing I liked most about Fraser was that he always had a smile on. He was also daring. He was not afraid of anything. But we always helped each other. Fraser and I were a team.
Anyway, he would come to lunch with a goldmine of Warheads. Black cherry, green apple, yellow lemon, every Warhead flavor. He would tell me which he thought was the most sour. He would put more than one in his mouth at a time and tell me which were the best combinations. While he did that he would make funny faces trying to fight off the sour. He would imitate the face on each wrapper on the Warheads (except for the head exploding). He was like a librarian. “Hi,” you would say to him.
“What could I do for you?” he might reply.
“I am looking for something sweet and sour.”
“Hold on.” He would reach into the goldmine and pull out a green apple. “Here you go.”
“Thanks.” You would take the Warheads and leave with sour explosions in your mouth.
One day while we were in the second grade we were at Fraser’s house when he got up and said, “I’ll be right back.” When he returned, he laid out five black-cherry Warheads (the most sour) on a paper napkin in front of me. He did the same for himself “Let’s see who could hold the sour the longest,” he said with a sinister grin. “Whoever spits their Warheads onto the paper napkin first loses.”
“You’re on,” I said, confident of my victory.
“On your marks,” he said, “get set, go.” We stuffed the candy in our mouths. Immediately my face scrunched up from the explosion. But Fraser was sitting calmly with that sinister grin again.
Can newcomer Michael Madans beat Warhead master Fraser Stead? I thought. Nope. I stared at the Warheads that were just in my mouth and now on the paper towel. Then I just laughed. Once Fraser finished off his Warheads he started to laugh too. And we just laughed and laughed.
This was more than just a sucking candy, it was one of the things that made our friendship stronger.
Halloween of 2003 was the last time I saw Fraser. We were only in the fourth grade when he moved back to Australia, where he was first born. And that was also the last time I had a Warhead for a long time. It is Warheads that keep our friendship as strong as it is. It was devastating. I just stood there doing nothing, no matter what my heart said. “I guess this is it,” I said.
“Yeah,” he said. “Bye.”
“Bye,” I replied. I was ready to do something outrageous. But I didn’t. It felt like being strapped to a brick wall. After all these years of happiness, laughter and Warheads, we were going to be separated on Halloween, which is supposed to be a holiday of joy “It was really nice knowing you, bud,” I said. “I am going to miss you. See ya.” And that was it.
But little did I know, I did not just say goodbye to my friend, I also said goodbye to the memory of a huge friendship.
So that was it. No more Fraser. No more Warheads.
I wonder what my life without Fraser would be like without Warheads. Would we remember each other? Would we still be friends? Many things could happen if it was not for that piece of candy.
So here I was a fifth-grader, almost sixth, walking down the street. It has almost been a year since I last saw Fraser and the last time I had a Warhead. I think to myself, if I could just taste the sourness, and the sweetness of the memory, my spirit would rise. I wonder if Fraser has Warheads in Australia? Does he remember Warheads and all the memories?
I walk into the nearest candy store and think, I wonder if they got more blue raspberry sour spray I reach in and pull out a package of WARHEAD SOUR SUCKING CANDIES. I really do not think when I see it. I just grab it. It is not a bag of candy to me. It is the key to my happiest memories, Fraser. I give the cashier the exact change and run out the door.
I open the package and look at the goldmine of Warheads, which I thought was lost. Black, blue, pink, green and yellow pieces of gold in the lost mine. If only Fraser was here.
Today I love to purchase bags of Warhead sour sucking candies whenever I get the chance for two reasons. One, you just can’t get over the explosions of sour that you get by putting a single candy in your mouth. And two, every time I have a Warhead I think of Fraser and all the good times we had. Right before I open a bag I think, What will Fraser do? I stuff them into my mouth. I taste the artificial flavor that was erased from my mind. The sour explodes in my mouth and my heart explodes with happiness like it is the Fourth of July, or Halloween. That same Halloween that was the last time I saw Fraser. Well, it really was not Fraser. It was more of the grim reaper. But it was definitely Fraser under the bloody mask, I think. But now there is a new ingredient in the Warhead. Something that cannot be artificially flavored, wrapped, packed, and sent from Japan. It is something different. Something that will not fade away. Something called friendship.