FLINT - The sign on the bin of candy in the drugstore screamed, "Five for $5, or one for a $1.49."
OK, maybe it didn't scream, but it suggested awfully hard. And being of Scottish descent - meaning incredibly, painfully frugal - I thought, "What a deal!"
These were no ordinary boxes of candy, mind you. These were the great big boxes. Movie-size boxes of candy, the kind that could get you through a double-feature if movie theaters still did that kind of thing, which they don't.
Before you ask, yes, I take my own candy to the movies. Have you seen what they charge? I used to take in popcorn and soda, too, in my wilder days. I was a rebel.
Anyway, so I bought a box of Chuckles, which, if you don't recall, are those little squares of red, orange, green, yellow and black jelly that your grandmother's grandmother once enjoyed.
Personally, I don't even like them that much. As jelly candies go, I prefer Sour Patch Kids, which I'd buy more often if they'd change the name to something a bit more dignified.
So I got my Chuckles home, opened the box, my mouth watering. Red was always my favorite as a kid, even though, in truth, the reds ones taste the same as the yellow, orange and green ones. The black ones taste like licorice. I always throw those out or give them away. So does everyone else, which makes me wonder why they bother.
But I digress. So there in the box was
Your mind races: A mouse? A bug? A human finger?
No. Nothing that dramatic. It contained air. Lots and lots of air. Oh sure, there was a bag in there, too. A rather big bag, in fact. But it contained exactly 10 Chuckles.
I'll pause while you recover from the same shock I felt.
Ten Chuckles? Holy packaging rip-offs, Batman!
At first, I thought it was a mistake then I read the package: "Serving size 3 pieces. Servings per container about 3."
So, really, I lucked out. I should have gotten only nine! I wonder if I owe them more money now?
My 10, by the way, included five yellows, three red, one orange and one black. But no green. Why, wasn't there room?
Of course that's a rhetorical question. There was plenty of room. The box measured 6 inches x 4 inches x 1 inches. And a Chuckle itself is exactly well, I can't tell you exactly how big they are because, despite my disgust, I ate them before it occurred to me to measure them. What can I say, I was hungry.
But I estimate that at least 40 could fit in the box if the people at - let's see, who makes them? - if, ah yes, if the people at Farley & Sathers Candy Company Inc. in Round Lake, Minn., had a conscience.
Presumably they don't because I was able to fit the following into my condo-size Chuckles box with room to spare: an iPhone, my harmonica, my wife's watch, a chap stick tube, ear buds, a jack knife and several small contact lens rewetting bottles, none of which would get me through a double-feature.
Now, look, I am a reasonable man. I am not suggesting that you, the reading public - your ire now properly aroused - storm the Chuckles plant on my behalf, demanding both a refund and an apology.
Nor am I suggesting that this kind of style-over-substance, packaging-over-product rip-off is exactly what's wrong with America these days and that we will never truly be great as a nation until we return to the days of giving honest value.
And I most certainly am not suggesting to the Farley & Sathers Candy Company Inc. in Round Lake, Minn., that a lifetime supply of Chuckles would go a long way toward soothing the hurt and disappointment I feel deep down to my cheap Scottish soul.
But it would be a start.
EDITOR'S NOTE - Andy Heller, an award-winning columnist for The Flint Journal, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. For more of his work, visit his blog at blog.mlive.com/flintjournal/aheller. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.