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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
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Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Or maybe I was just super weird

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On Sunday Henry had to join me for errands. Our expedition entailed walking a total of maybe ten blocks, round trip, but some of us do not wish to experience the out-of-doors on what is supposed to be a relaxing Sunday when one wishes only to simultaneously play Minecraft and listen to Minecraft songs. Some of us, however, don't feel like going out alone to buy someone else underwear and socks only to return home and find out that some of us purchased the terrible kind. So some of us HAD TO GO.

There was yelling. Then I said I'd buy him gum and possibly a pack of Magic Cards if he was particularly great (translated by Henry: definitely Magic Cards, multiple packs, get your pants on before she changes her mind).

Out we went, and after finding the acceptable varieties of both underwear and sock, Henry decided he wanted Tic Tacs. I never buy Tic Tacs, I don't think about them, but while he was mulling over the flavors at the checkout counter I was filled with nostalgia: not for the candy, but the packaging.

When I was little, I had a thing for empty Tic Tac boxes. My mom bought the spearmint flavor, which was too intense for my delicate girl-mouth, but whenever I found an empty box I snatched it. I'd take it up to my bathroom, where I would spend far too long than is healthy playing. With the Tic Tac box.

First I had to remove all the labels, because duh. And then scrub it until the glue came off. But carefully, because you didn't want to scratch the box. Without the labels, I found the entire thing to be perfect. It satisfied me in ways I can't explain. That hinge! Did I open and close it, then open and close it some more? Why, yes. Yes I did.

And what did I do my beloved Tic Tac box, after I regarded its perfection? Well! I filled it with either 1) water, 2) shampoo, 3) a sludgy mix of water and talcum powder, or 4) Jean Nate After-Bath Splash. And then I poured it out, and filled it up again. If I had glitter, you can be sure as hell the glitter got in there. On one particularly heady occasion, I nabbed some food coloring and filled a couple of tic-tac boxes with various shades of tinted water. They were too beautiful to be disturbed, so I hid them under the sink for a number of years. I took them out on special occasions and held them up to the light.

It's not like I didn't have an entire room filled with toys.  But they couldn't equal the perfection of the Tic Tac box. Which, if I'm going to be honest, I'm still itching to grab, although I don't know why. What would I do with it? I don't even own any Jean Nate!

I was going to tell Henry this story while we were walking home, but he already worries about me. And now I'm telling you. But you understand, right? Maybe you're a little concerned, but surely you had something similar? Come on, now.

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  • Response
    Given half the chance I am quite confident that my sweet daughter Gracie would develop an obsession heretofore unparalleled. (It is for this reason that I have so far shielded her from the slippery slope of the empty tic tac box. It’s the gateway to a dangerous addiction, the first step ...
  • Response
    Response: mothers day 2015

Reader Comments (58)

I used to be a Tic Tac box afficionado, but then I discovered those little minty melty breath-freshener wafers that come in a slim little plastic container with THE MOST SATISFYING CLICK EVER. I had lots, distributed amongst my pockets and purses (labels removed, natch), so whatever I was wearing I could always be a-clicking. But then over time I forgot about them... TILL NOW! I'm going to look for one right this minute.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTravelSkite

Dude! Those containers are awesome! And so much fun to fill with water and toiletries!

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAllison

I just loved to open and close them. I loved the metal band aid containers too!

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaige

Now I really want to go get Tic Tacs just so I can scrub the labels of the container and find something to store in it. I LOVED Tic Tac boxes (and apparently still do).

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkatalia

My friends and I used to take white glue and squeeze out quarter sized circle shapes (in our school desks, on geometry box sets... anywhere) then scribble in it with pencil crayons until the glue changed colour. Then we let it dry and picked it off and collected them. We did this for years. Then recently my daughter got a coloured glue craft kit to make window-clings. Why didn't I think of that?!

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJane

Ok I blogged about this but then I felt compelled to read it to my 11 year old daughter (whom I referenced) and then my 12 year old son (who is morally opposed to finding anything I find funny even remotely amusing) wandered in during the reading.

And just like that, a beautiful,magical moment was shared by all. I.e: As I laughed and snorted helplessly while choking out your article, they did not stare woodenly at me before heaving a resigned sigh and walking away sadly. They laughed too. A lot. The 12 year old then asked me if I "ever wrote anything funny" on my blog. A blog named "Momedy" in... comedy..from a mom. (It pains me to spell this out. I thought it was glaringly obvious, but recently discovered that only a small percentage of folk got the reference, the rest of them have been silently but politely wondering about the random name since 2007). ANYWAY! Aforementioned 12 year old has challenged me to find something that may be similarly amusing to him on my blog. I find myself bracing all of us for major disappointment. So..thanks for that. But seriously, thanks for the laugh. Bright spot in a very grey day.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKirsty

I feel you. Any of those snappy boxes (saw a comment about Band-Aid boxes and must agree - those held my firecrackers) are aces in my book. It's the sole reason I buy Tic Tacs. If I want mint, there are a hundred sources. But not many packagings make it so satisfying.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

I, erm, used to clean out Tic Tac boxes, using very similar methods, to serve as nests for the only toy better than a Tic Tac box -- the tiny ball inside of fountain pen ink cartridges. After releasing them from their original prisons with safety scissors (and if I was feeling particularly decadent, destroying brand new ink cartridges for the sake of getting at their delicious balls (I know)), I would color them with markers, drop them into assorted Tic Tac containers, and then create birth certificates and health records for each and every ball. I had Trapper Keepers full of that vital information.

As an adult, that memory has always made me feel funny, as I now have to acknowledge how fundamentally peculiar that was, but you have eased things, at least a little, with your Tic Tac box story. So thank you!

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermbc

What! I also did this, and have wondered why I was such a weird kid who needed empty boxes. And I thought for a moment about not telling this because it would reveal that I am still a hoarder of Small Boxes That Will Do Me No Good In The Long Run, but I collect tin mint boxes with the intent to paint the outsides of them with awesome designs and repurpose them, but instead I just have a stack of like 10 mint tins on my desk with their original paint.

I also firmly believed that Tic Tacs gave me super abilities, so I'd eat a handful of them and try to play piano and convince myself that I was a master.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAllison

I hear you one the tic tac boxes but mostly: Jean Nate! LOVED. My mother didn't have any (why? WHY?) so I slathered it all over myself whenever visiting Aunt Margie.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternina

Orange Tic Tacs were always in our Christmas stockings! Usually several boxes of them, which meant a couple of boxes could be hoarded, carefully portioning out one Tic Tac at a time for weeks, and the other box could be eaten in a few giant mouthfuls (the thought of that particular feeling of excess is still a little bit thrilling, honestly). I liked drinking water out of the (later scrubbed-clean, empty) boxes, too! My grandparents always had the regular mint and spearmint ones in the top drawer of a little desk/cupboard in their front hallway, and I used to swipe Tic Tacs constantly whenever we were visiting. (The white mint ones were far superior to the green ones, in my opinion). I haven't had Tic Tacs in years and years -- I might have to buy a few boxes this week... (Somewhat relatedly, I also had a thing for drinking soda out of the 12-ounce plastic bottles, one plastic capful at a time, a habit I cultivated throughout most of my childhood.)

March 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMiss B

Tic Tac boxes-oh, yeah! But also? The talcum powder and water mixture. I could entertain myself for hours with a handful of baby powder and beads of water. Endless science experiements. Did you love the way a few drops of water rolled in the powder created a little...talcum balloon? Fascinating!

March 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

I will admit (surprisingly openly) that I do love to simply sit and open and close a Tic Tac box. I eat ONLY THE ORANGE. And I have to eat them all the same day I buy the box. I have to. To me they're candy, not mints. And candy is meant to be devoured. I will also admit to being even more devoted (weird?) about boxes: Sucrets tins, cigar boxes, SHOE BOXES. I had to keep them. And redecorate them. All Of Them.

Thank you, Alice -- thank you, ALLA Y'ALL -- for welcoming each other into the sanctity of We Are All Special.

March 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArnebya

So my thing was Elmer's glue. I would make "fake fingernails" out of the glue in this manner: I would ever-so-carefully pour tiny oval puddles of glue inside my metal school desk, guarding them carefully until they dried. Then I would peel each one off, lick the back, and stick it on top of my fingernail. The end.

March 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Okay, well, here's the thing. I have to share this because you said that one time you filled those boxes with colored water, kept them, and would take them out to admire once in a while. Just in solidarity for you to know we're pretty much all weirdos: one easter, i had, i believe, those little hershey's chocolate eggs that are individually wrapped in foil? And there are several different pastel colors of foil in the bag? Well, i ate the eggs very slowly, to savor them, as one does. When i popped each one in my mouth, i meticulously rolled each little square of pastel foil into a perfect, tiny ball. I remember it was very important that from every angle, only the pastel color be visible, none of the plain silver inside of the foil. Perfection! When i finished, i had, oh, 12 or 15 perfect little balls in all of my favorite pastel colors. Could i throw them away? Certainly not! But what to do with them? How to preserve their perfect symmetry? Well, on another occasion i had talked my mom into buying me this little, travel-size bar of soap just because it was packaged in this darling little tin box. It was an oval, probably 2 inches across (roughly the same size as a tic tac box!), and it was covered in the most beautiful pattern of delicate pastel flowers. I loved that box. I imagined a beautiful woman traveling in europe with that little soap in its little tin in her purse, so that she'd be able to wash her hands in those exotic places that might not have soap dispensers. Seriously, i spent a lot of time on that daydream. So anyway, when i made my little collection of perfect pastel foil balls, i had the perfect use for that tin! I put the balls in there, and like you, i took it out regularly for a few years, just to admire them. So there you go. I'm pretty certain that makes me even more weird than you, with your tic tac boxes of colored water!

March 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkara

Kara, I love that story, and I think that you are me. I would have done EXACTLY THAT.

March 13, 2013 | Registered CommenterAlice

YES! Me. And I am only 24, so the childhood is not so long ago. And yet, it seems no matter your geographical location or the generation you belong to, the empty Tic Tac box is still a thing of beauty.

March 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSheri Bomb

I did love the hinge on the tic tac box (and still do) but my memories of tic tacs were more about hearing them in my mother's purse.

My packaging obsession when I was a young girl was the Herbal Essences bottle. I just looked it up and it's different than what I remembered, but I used to try to recreate the scene of the blond haired beauty (I'm a brunette) in the lagoon, in my bathtub, with lots of soapy bubbles that would fan out around me and be lagoon-like. I tried my best to also imitate the beatific look on the cartoon lady's face, while she put flowers in her hair and birds flew about her head (which would terrify me in real life).

March 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDeirdre

Oh, Alice, I remember playing with Tic Tac boxes!! I used to take them in the bathtub. I think I need to buy some Tic Tacs, just so I can give my kids the joy of their very own Tic Tac box. ;)

March 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

You crack me up! I use my tic tac box to store my bobby pins. It makes me happy!

March 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMitzi

You are not alone, I also shared the joy of empty Tic Tac containers, and also peeled off the labels and scrubbed off the glue. Weirdos, Unite!

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteramy

I also scrubbed them clean and filled them with water. Now, I sometimes find myself staring at the latch part, but not closed, like, just open enough that the top and bottom are touching and you can see the perfect line-up of the nubbin and the slot it fits into? I am an adult. My workplace productivity suffers because I accidentally stare at the Tic Tac latch every time I eat one.

March 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterK8

Wow, had it not been for the internet, I would not have a) remembered the tic tac box obsession; and b) found out there were others out there like me.

I used to take them to school too (after scrubbing off the label, of course), and fill them up at the water fountain. Oh, yummy tic tac water.

Thanks Alice, for another funny, nostalgic, darling post which brought me back to my childhood.

March 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTania

Have you seen this:

I don't know if this link will work, but it's from the tumblr:

Making a tic tac box into a pencil sharpener.

March 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTania

If I had ever thought of it, the Tic Tac box would have been perfect. I used sandwich bags. I filled them with water. I was generous with food coloring. And they were my pets. My pet whats? I don't know. I don't recall them having names. But the transparent colored water was a wonderful thing to behold. I loved my pets.

When I wasn't doing that, I was borrowing spray bottles and taking paper towels and toilet paper onto the back porch and staging my own diaper commercials. See how much more absorbent the paper towel diapers are than the toilet paper ones? These are clearly the diapers you want to buy.

Water in its many forms. Obviously the best toy. Or I am really weird too.

March 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret

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