In my teenage years, I lived close enough to our high school to walk there and back. If I remember right, it took about 15 minutes each way. And about halfway between my house and the school there was a cross-street that boasted a pizza place, a green grocer, and a little stationery store we called "Bill's".
It had everything you'd expect. Greeting cards, school supplies, magazines, essentials for the home, knickknacks, and near the cash register in the front, the ever-present racks of candy and chewing gum.
Many of us were little balls of energy back then, fueled by the vigor of youth and topped off by sugary snacks that we certainly didn't need, but burned off quickly. And so whenever a bunch of us stopped by the stationery store during lunch or after school, it's likely that we picked up something from those candy racks. The treat of choice for me usually included chocolate in some way.
I remember a few standards: Nestle Crunch. 100 Grand. Mounds.
But in the early 1990s, coinciding perfectly with my burgeoning hockey fandom, a new option appeared on those candy racks:
THE MARIO BUN!
For the confectionery aficionados among us, this candy bar, created by the Clark company, was kind of like a big "turtle": a mound of caramel and pecans, all covered in chocolate. (Just replace the pecans with roasted peanuts.)
I'm sure it was a tasty treat. But this is a trading card blog, so now I'll have to mention the real reason I ate a few of these things back then:
The Mario Bun came with one of three collectible Mario Lemieux cards inside!
The cards measured 3" x 3". The bun sat atop the card in the package, and if I remember right, took up a decent amount of the space, which means it was quite a hefty snack.
Each of the three card fronts features a different image of Mr. Lemieux, along with a facsimile autograph and the very noticeable Bun logo. Card backs provide various details about Lemieux. The first card back, shown above, contains stats from his junior and NHL career.
The second card back lists honors and awards Lemieux had earned up to that point (1992-93). I find it interesting that his Conn Smythe trophies for playoff MVP in both 1991 and 1992 are mentioned, but not the corresponding Stanley Cup trophies.
Another honor not listed on the back of the card? Getting a candy bar named after you!
Looking back at those Penguins teams, quite a few other players could have easily had candy bars named after them, too. There was Ron Francis, Kevin Stevens, Mark Recchi, Joe Mullen, Bryan Trottier, Paul Coffey, Larry Murphy, and a budding young star named Jaromir Jagr.
All of those guys aside from Stevens and Jagr are now in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Jagr will be one day. (If he ever stops playing professionally, that is. He currently plays for Kladno in the Czech league, and owns the team as well!)
As for Stevens, he was no slouch either, putting up 54 goals and 69 assists for 123 points in 1991-92, finishing second in team scoring to Lemieux, who went 44 G, 87 A, 131 PTS.
Here's the final card, which offers a nice little paragraph that describes a little bit of Mr. Lemieux's magnificence. (Bryan Trottier and Bobby Orr were the other two players who'd won the Art Ross, Hart, Calder, and Conn Smythe trophies. Since then, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, and Patrick Kane have joined the list.)
All three of the cards you've seen here are originals from my collection, which enhances the fun memories for me. I wonder how many of these candy bars I bought and ate before I completed the three-card set. Hopefully not too many.
Thanks for taking a little trip back to high school with me. Do any of you have favorite candy bars from those good ol' days? Remember any other sports stars with candy bars named after them?
Share in the comment section, and thanks for reading!