Did you know that Ring Pops Valentines (affiliate link) revolutionized classroom parties in the 1980s?
Well, it did.
I mean, before Topps introduced Ring Pops in the late 1970s, grade schools were already having Valentine parties in each class … but they sucked.
Cupcakes, candy, punch, colorful cards, coloring pages, an hour out of work …
OK, the parties didn’t suck at all.
You can buy these pre-made babies at OldTimeCandy.com (affiliate link)
But as Ring Pops gained a hold on the culture into the 1980s, they started appearing in classroom parties, too, and they brought valuable life lessons with them.
Specifically, they often showed up as Valentine cards of one sort or another, and they got stuffed into our Valentine pouches.
So the Valentine’s Day parties sucked even less.
With that in mind, if you received a Ring Pops Valentine in the 1980s, you were all set to learn about …
OK, so the first thing you have to know is that the average kid wasn’t whipping out Ring Pop Valentines in Mrs. Furstons second-grade class.
Not only were Ring Pops new, but they were name-brand only, which meant expensive … at least from the perspective of working-class families in the 1970s or 1980s.
So, really the only kids who even had a chance to bring these things to class were those from families with some financial means.
Maybe they had two working parents.
Or maybe dad was a big shot, like a foreman or brain surgeon or something.
Or maybe the kid’s parent were divorced and dad overcompensated by spending beyond his means … on fancy candy.
But in our eyes, as kids, if you brought Ring Pops (or any big-name candy, really) to school and distributed it to everyone, you were rich, Mister.
It was all good for the rest of us, though, because we got candy.
Of course, the situation also led to a bit of …
Encountering people with more than you have is a tough road to hoe as a kid.
Especially if you’ve been taught to resent “rich” folks, which likely describes most middle class kids of yesteryear to at least a certain extent.
So, when those big, juicy Ring Pop Valentines showed up in our VD pouches (that sounds awful!), we were flooded with a rainbow of emotions …
Elation … candy!
Awe … wow, never even heard of those before.
Resentment … how is it Rosalyn can bring those in??
Embarrassment … oh, God, my crappy little paper Mickey Mouse cards are trash … everyone will laugh at me!
And so you sat there chomping on your Ring Pop, hoping no one would bother to even look at your trifling offerings.
Mailing It In
Not always, but often enough … “expensive” in the context of a classroom party really meant, “don’t give a damn.”
Sometimes, the Ring Pops would be attached to cards of some sort … usually little Mickey Mouse squares or Garfield stickers or Snoopy punchouts.
In those cases, the kid or the mom taped the two together, and like as not, there was no writing on the things. On the big day, the kid just dropped one in each pouch … no “to” or “from” needed.
Other times, the Ring Pops were just … well, just Ring Pops. No cards. No identification.
Nothing but candy.
It was the ultimate “I don’t have time for this” by both the parents and the kids involved. Just drop a few bucks and be done with it.
That cold delivery of Ring Pop Valentines held one definite advantage for the candy-bearer — it left him (or her) decidedly noncommittal.
We already talked about anxiety up there ^, but there were few more anxious hours in the life of a grade school kid than the one when all the Valentines were passed out … and read.
Would Suzy give you a generic “you’r great,” or would this be the year she finally recognized your cuteness and gave you a Care Bear “be mine”?
Or maybe she would take the hint with your big-cat cartoon that said “I’d be lion if I said I didn’t want you to be mine, Valentine!”.
And … oh, God … you didn’t screw up and give Natalie one of those Hamburglar “you stole my heart away” things … did you?
The Ring Pop giver had no such worries because he was either dropping pure, unadulterated candy on you, or he was taping the pop to half a Scooby playing card he found under his bed.
The bottom line with Ring Pop Valentines is that they delivered candy into an environment that typically consisted of piles of foldy, frilly paper, but nothing of consequence.
I mean, sure, you had the homemade cupcakes that Billy’s mother made and that he smashed to hell on the bus on the way in, and you had the (blood?) fruit-flavored “aid” drink that the teacher whipped up in her back room.
That was awesome, sugary stuff, and we wolfed it down with great enthusiasm.
But you can never have to many goodies, and you can never have too much real candy.
And if you get a ring that you can use for a mock wedding afterwards?
Well, all the better … awkwardness of grade-school rejections be damned!
If you want to roll out the old Ring Pops Valentines but don’t want to bother adding stuff together, Old Time Candy has pre-made versions, with the Valentine part built right into the wrapper there.
Check them out here. (affiliate link)
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