After the fortune telling incident, before we’d even made our way back to our hotel room, as we were strolling down the boardwalk in Atlantic City, one of the most famous cities on the east coast, Chuck, the rascal cat, had yet another idea.
So . . . imagine. It’s a beautiful day. The sun is shining brightly. And I’m almost beginning to totally enjoy myself. I’ve almost even forgotten our encounter with the tarot card reader and the crazy man in the casino. I glance at Chuck, and, yes, he seems to be enjoying himself. Because, as you know, CATS LOVE THE SUN.
But no sooner do I let relaxation course through me, than I sense that something is about to go wrong.
Chuck is pointing with his paw.
Because we are passing a store that I would have thought Chuck would have no interest in.
I am obviously wrong, of course.
He has that look in his eye, that stare that cats get when they spot a bird or a butterfly.
This time the Chuckster has spotted the sign that no one can miss as they saunter on by : IT’SUGAR.
I discovered this store last year when I was in Atlantic City with my sisters. It is the ultimate sugar fix-candy store, with literally every brand of candy you can imagine or remember gorging on when you were a kid. Even the mega-sized Hershey bars.
But Chuckie isn’t interested in “smoking” candy cigarettes to look cool or licking lollipops. Or munching on twizzlers or those dots that are pasted on those long sheets of paper that you have to tear off with your teeth.
As we sneak into the store -- and believe me, we really don’t have to do much sneaking because everyone in this story seems to be so totally mesmerized by the merchandize, I could’ve walked in with a 200 pound gorilla and no one would have noticed -- Chuckie scans all the shelves until he spots the only confection he’s truly interested in.
Now, it’s true. Cats don’t eat candy.
At least no cat I’ve ever lived with. They’ll sniff it and pretend interest, but when it comes right down to eating it, they’ll go for chicken, steak, lobster or salty potato chips anyday of the week.
So why was the kid so into PEZ?
Chuck and I made a beeline for the PEZ, and I did what any concerned guardian would do. I turned our casual outing into a history lesson.
“This candy,” I said to Chuck as he sat staring at the PEZ, “has a fascinating history. It was invented in 1927 in Vienna, Austria, as a breath mint.”
Since he didn’t stir or sigh, like he usually did, I kept on talking.
“In fact, the word PEZ comes from the German word peppermint: PfeffErminZ. That’s where the PEZ came from. Isn’t that interesting?”
Chuck leaned in closer, and I could tell he was looking at all the different types of dispensers.
“In 1935 they built a factory in Czechoslovakia to manufacture PEZ on a grander scale, but it wasn’t until 1948 that Oscar Uxa designed the first PEZ dispenser.”
Now, here I had the kid’s attention.
“That’s right. Before that, the candies came in just plain old wrappers. Anyway, the dispensers were meant to resemble cigarette lighters to encourage people to quit smoking.”
Chuck tilted his head. For all his bad habits, smoking wasn’t one of them.
“PEZ came to the United States in the 1950’s. Popeye, Mickey Mouse, Tweetie Bird were all on dispensers. Elvis. Star War figures. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. They added feet to the dispensers in the 1980‘s.”
Chuck looked really interested now.
I rambled on. “In fact, their slogan was: ‘YOU’RE NOT FAMOUS UNTIL YOU PUT YOUR HEAD ON A PEZ DISPENSER.’”
Chuck’s eyes lit up.
That’s when I realized what the kid wanted.
He wanted his head on a PEZ dispenser.
My almost famous cat.
Oh, Chuck. Just because you are star of a blog and your picture is on my website and sometimes, just sometimes people notice you . . .
“Maybe, someday you’ll be so famous you’ll get your head on a PEZ dispenser. But for now . . .” And I almost couldn’t bear to say the rest of it, for already the kid looked so dejected. He had his head down in his paws. “Oh, Chuck, for now, it’ll have to be just a dream. But someday, I promise, you’ll be on a PEZ dispenser, too.”
To learn more about PEZ: www.pez.com/history
And to learn more about Chuck log onto www.katelutter.com