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Many generations of people have fond memories of an extremely sweet and sour powdered candy known as Pixy Stix®. Pixy Stix® are packaged in straw-like paper wrappers which are torn open to allow the powder to be consumed directly. Some people may remember a much larger version called Giant Pixy Stix®, which were packaged in 21 inch plastic tubes. Popular Pixy Stix® flavors include orange, grape and green apple.
During the late 1930s, the powdery candy was actually intended to be a pre-sweetened drink mix similar to Kool Aid. The developer noticed that many children preferred to pour the powder directly into their mouths, by-passing the mixing process altogether. The candy powder was later repackaged and marketed as a regular candy treat. By the early 1950s, a company in St. Louis, Missouri was producing the original Pixy Stix® in colorful paper tubes.
Pixy Stix® may have been popular with children, but some parents routinely objected to the messy nature of a loose candy powder pouring out of a non-resealable straw. The candy company created a more solid confection from the dextrose, citric acid and artificial flavor formula of Pixy Stix® during the early 1960s, calling them SweeTarts®. As SweeTarts® and other hard packed candies grew in popularity, the older Pixy Stix® brand almost became extinct.
The Nestle company acquired the rights to produce Pixy Stix® and still produces the candy straws and Giant Pixy Stix® under the Willy Wonka brand name. Willy Wonka also produces other popular flavored sugar candies from that same era, such as cola-flavored Bottle Caps® and SweeTarts®.
As sweet as Pixy Stix® taste, they are not produced from sucrose or regular sugar. Instead, Pixy Stix® are made from a cornstarch-based sweetener called dextrose. Dextrose can have a much stronger effect on the bloodstream than sucrose, so those who are especially affected by blood sugar spikes should exercise restraint when consuming Pixy Stix®. The sourness of the candy comes from citric acid, a common ingredient in sour candies. Some say the flavor of Pixy Stix® is negligible, but the excitement of reliving a childhood memory by knocking back a Pixy Stix® straw is often worth the effort.
Well, the sweetener in Pixy Stix explains why people call it "pageant crack." It hits the kids' systems sooner and they expend all that sugar energy on stage!
I always liked Pixy Stix because I liked their tartness. I do remember putting the powder in water and drinking it, too. They were very popular in lunchboxes, and the fortunate one who had Pixy Stix could usually make some pretty decent lunch trades.
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