The dog days of June, July, and August always remind me of summers in Erie as a kid. And of course, summer just wasn’t summer without trips with my friends to the local candy store for our daily sugar fix. For those of you non-Erieites, The Nut Hut, other than holding the title for best-named establishment ever, was also a place where one could go to buy everything from Necco Wafers to Cajun peanuts. Imagine: a teeny tiny mom and pop shop that actually stayed in business with their highest priced item being chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. It still boggles my mind. Was the nut market in the 80s and 90s huge in Erie or did penny candy sales hold revenues steady for the store? I guess it’ll be a mystery since I have no clue where the proprieters of our little childhood Xanadu have ended up (if they’re still alive — they were pretty old even 20 years ago) after the store closed.
The Nut Hut was on a little strip of street next to a bike shop, a magic store, a coin emporium, and a diner (Avanti’s) that, in addition to serving breakfast all day, also sold ninja stars and machetes. Yes, old school Erie was eclecticism personified. But of all the stores a which I’ve ever shopped, The Nut Hut holds a special place in my heart. I’d go there with my three best buddies: Julie, Katie, and Sarah (on bike, of course) and we’d browse the bins of candy with the intensity of a bride choosing her wedding gown. I’m sure it was creepy as hell to watch us.
I remember I always went for the traditional candy — Double Bubble or candy cigs — while Katie liked the trendy stuff — Chick-o-Sticks and Cowtails. Sarah bought the hard shit — pixie sticks and Jawbreakers — while Julie just favored the downright nasty — lime popsicles or black licorice. Then the four of us would take our loot back to my clubhouse or a neighbor’s driveway and stuff our little sweaty, sunburned faces — all the while making summer memories that still stick with me (as I’m sure, all the preservatives from our sugar bounty).
PS: I wish I had a picture to go with this post, but sadly, all my old pictures are still packed away in a box somewhere due to our move. Plus, I scoured the Internet looking for shots of the old Hut, but I can’t find more than a Facebook mention or two about the place.
PSS: The recipients of this note are Vera and Tom (if I can even hunt them down), but this post is dedicated to the memory of my best friend, Katie, who passed away seven years ago today — gone but certainly not forgotten.