We often talked about this mysterious candy bar that only the two of us seemed to recall, but the name escaped us. We’d ask others in our age group, but they couldn’t remember the name either. Then, last week, tried to ask someone else, and suddenly the name popped into my skull as I started to describe it for them. “It was like a Wig Wag bar,” I began, and in that instant knew that it was a Wig Wag bar, that this was the long-elusive name. And there it was, the trick to remembering the name: catching myself off-guard. Hadn’t thought of that name in years, but it was still there, lurking hidden in the bizarre catacombs of human memory, awaiting its cue to leap out and surprise me.
No longer a puzzle, just nostalgia, a vague recollection that I liked it when I was a kid; the Wig Wag bar, stuff of memory and lore. I can almost taste it. An isolated memory tied to the purchase of one along with some comic books at the United Book Store one summer in Saint John, New Brunswick. Returning to my grandparents’ flat to spread the comics out upon the sagging, old bed in which I slept during those visits and gnoshing that Wig Wag while reading Fantastic Four on a cool summer afternoon. The taste of it, the texture, the experience, all entwined within the memory of that single episode of consumption, woven together in serpentine strands of sensation that mirror the construction of the confection itself: a delicate latticework of caramel encased in chocolate. A crispness upon biting that transforms quickly in the mouth into a sticky treacle. The late afternoon light as filtered through the window’s old venetian blinds painting shadows upon the four-colour mysteries of the Negative Zone. The metallic scrapings of those blinds pushed gently by a sea breeze carrying with it the tangy assurance of eventual fog. The soot of the city’s many industries upon the wooden sill. The dopplered din of rush hour traffic speeding noisily up and over the crest of Waterloo Street. An all-in-one moment plucked from the distant history of childhood’s near-terminus, when senses were keen and the world, even in its most trifling moments, was still vivid, surging with intensity.