Friday, July 22, 2011

Resurrecting The Past: Flying Saucer/Satellite Wafer Candy

Even at a very young age I remember sometimes wishing I had been born a generation or two earlier. Most of the movies I loved watching while growing up were the monster/horror/sci-fi ones from the 1950s and 1960s. As much as I enjoyed watching them on TV--beamed out to me from Boston area stations like WLVI 56 (and its Saturday afternoon show Creature Double Feature), WSBK TV38 and WCVB Channel 5--I also always wished I could have been around when those movies first came out and people went out to see them, brand new, at local theaters and drive-ins. I suppose we always look at the past through rose-colored glasses, and I'm sure I did that too. I idealized the 1950s and 1960s, concentrating on all the good and interesting aspects of them and being blind to the problems and strife that all eras have to some extent.

It wasn't until quite a bit later that I realized that growing up in the 1970s and early 1980s wasn't really that bad. I certainly wasn't as far removed from the ways of the 50s and 60s as a kid growing up today would be. Even though I didn't get to see all those great (and not-so-great) movies in the theaters it was still a wonderful thing to be able to have them on TV all the time. You certainly aren't likely to see the likes of "It Conquered the World", "Them" and "The Amazing Colossal Man" on regular TV these days. In fact, while there are exponentially more viewing choices today than the ten or so channels we could pick up on our old TV set growing up, there still isn't a reliable outlet for those kinds movies.

I suppose a few factors went into the realization that the 1970s weren't as "bad" as I thought while growing up during them. First off, the TV channels I was watching were being programmed by people who had probably grown up during the 50s and 60s when the films I love came out. It was natural for them to put them in the schedules since that was what they were familiar with. Also, the movies that were churned out for double-bills at drive-ins and movie theaters were so plentiful and still of semi-recent vintage that they were probably the easiest things to plug into schedules. It would be like seeing movies from the 1980s on TV today (and that certainly does happen). Movies from the 1950s and 60s simply weren't as old in the 1970s as they are today (which is a pretty obvious fact indeed).

One other aspect of the "old days" that lingered into my formative years and I was lucky enough to still be able to experience was Penny Candy. It's amazing to think there was a time when a penny was actually worth something, yet they were. There was a small convenience store down the hill from my house that I would frequent. This little old-timey store actually still had jars of Penny Candy that you could choose from to spend the small amounts of change a little kid would be likely to have in his/her pocket. Not realizing the connection to the past that I felt so much nostalgia for, I would pick and choose as many pieces of candy that I could afford and take them home with me in a little paper bag. Most of these candies still exist today of course--but you're not likely to find them for sale in individual pieces. They either come in sealed packages or can be bought by weight at certain places. Caramel bullseyes, Swedish Fish, wax syrup bottles, and those little candy dots on paper strips were among my favorites.

But one thing I always remember as being a bit extra special was the Flying Saucer Candy (which I just found out were also called Satellite Wafers). These little things were made up of two saucer-shaped wafers made of an edible paper-like material that were sealed together and contained a number of tiny, colorful candy beads inside which would rattle when the saucer was shaken. These weren't a particularly sweet candy. In fact the wafer part had pretty much no taste at all. It was like eating something that was sort of cross between paper and cardboard. The candy beads themselves were sweet, but so tiny you didn't really get much flavor from them either. I think what made them so special (to me at least) was the overall experience of eating them. It was simply fun to put them in your mouth and bite down on the wafer to get to the candy inside. Or you could let the wafer part melt in your mouth first. Plus, you could shake them like a little maracas. And (probably best of all) they actually looked just like little flying saucers or UFOs! Nice.

While I've seen most of the other Penny Candies from my youth in recent years--even buying some of those paper-mounted colorful candy dots for The Little Monster (and myself of course) while on vacation last year--I hadn't seen the Candy Flying Saucers/Satellite Wafers for many years. Well it turns out they still exist and can be found pretty easily now that we have the magic of the internet (it's funny to find myself using cutting edge technology to track down something like an old-fashioned candy treat from my youth).

I hadn't even thought of these particular candies in quite some time until a couple weeks ago when I visited the Grafton Flea Market (Grafton, MA) for the first time this season. I used to go there all the time, but now that I've moved just far enough away to make it a bit of a distance I only get out there a few times a season. Well, there's someone there that sells candy, nuts and dried fruit on little plastic bags. A lot of the candies are of the old-fashioned, Penny Candy variety. And the bags aren't factory sealed packages, but simply baggies tied up with a little twist-tie. This dealer has been setting up there for many years. The funny thing is that I don't recall ever buying anything from the stand through all my hundreds of trips to the flea market. I decided to check out the variety on this last trip and was pleasantly surprised to see those little Flying Saucers! I simply had to pick up one of the bags for a dollar. The bag contained a dozen of the colorful saucers. That works out to about eight cents apiece. While not "Penny Candy" by any means, that doesn't seem all that bad considering the general level of inflation. The six- or seven-year-old version of myself probably wouldn't have been able to afford such an indulgence, it really wasn't much of a hardship to hand over a dollar bill for that little bag.

While I was excited to re-discover this tiny "lost" part of my childhood, I was also looking forward to sharing these Flying Saucers with The Little Monster too of course. It didn't take her long to "get" what was fun about them (or at least if she didn't, she did a good job of humoring her old man). She seemed to enjoy eating and playing with the little flying saucers. In fact, a neighborhood friend of hers came over to visit and she told him about the new candy treat. I gave him one and his reaction was "this doesn't taste very good". That's an understandable and very honest thing to say (nice tact kid!), but it just showed that he's more accustomed to all the "boring", but super-sweet candy choices that kids of today are familiar with. He wan't interested in using his imagination and putting in the extra "work" that transforms Flying Saucer Candy from a tasteless treat into a fun experience that includes nearly all the senses (taste, sight, touch and even hearing). Luckily The Little Monster didn't let me down in that department! A small link to the 1950s/60s carried on through the my youth, and now I've been able to pass it along to another generation of Monster Kid in the 2010s! Yet another proud moment in the Monster Dad experience.

Here's a look at the Flying Saucers that were in the bag above

A blue Flying Saucer

And a pink Flying Saucer

A peek at the little candy beads inside a Saucer

The Little Monster prepares to enjoy a Flying Saucer/Satellite Wafer Candy!

Here are a few resources where you can find Flying Saucer/Satellite Wafer Candies (and other nostalgic old-fashioned candy too for that matter) if this post has got you wanting some:


  1. Enjouyed reading about your candy memories and discovery! I posted one about a particular candy on one of my older blogs:

  2. I can remember walking in behind all the houses that attached several different neighborhoods to get to 'Charlie's' and buy those things. However, the first time I ever tasted those little candy beads (in a different product) I was three!

    1. Charlie's was the place that I remember getting my flying saucers at too!

  3. I haven't had one of these candies since my own childhood (90s-00s) but I remember it fondly. In fact, I'd say that it was one of my favorites growing up, even though I'd only had the pleasure of it a couple of times.

    I came here from Google while searching for the name of this wonderful treat and I'm happy that I did. You have a splendid writing style, and one that made for a very relaxing and enjoyable read.