Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sugar and ... spike?

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My mom and I took a walk down Selkirk Avenue the other day. We couldn't help but notice how the old neighbourhood has changed over the years.

Back in the '70s, we lived at the Coronet, an apartment block at the corner of Main Street and Pritchard Avenue. First my Auntie Jeannie moved there, and then Mom followed along with me a few months later.

My mom was young back then and so was my Auntie Jeannie. They were both single parents, trying to make a life for themselves in the big city. It was easy enough for Mary Tyler Moore, but a wee bit harder for aboriginal girls who lived in a small town most of their lives.

There were tough times, Mom says. We lived on potatoes, eggs, bread and macaroni -- but, of course, I don't remember that.

Sometimes they'd go shopping down Selkirk and leave us with sitters, but they'd always bring home something special.

One time, Mom and Auntie Jeannie bought us some treats from Gunn's Bakery, which was just around the corner from our block. They did that once in a while; sometimes it was cookies, doughnuts, and even chocolate éclairs.

This time they brought home a couple dozen little round chocolate balls for us, which made your mouths water just looking at them.

I don't think Robin's Donuts eggs or Timbits were invented yet, but that's what they kind of resembled. These dessert balls were a thing of wonder -- I'd never seen anything so fancy in my life.

They felt as soft as pillows, and some of them were dipped in white powdered sugar and chocolate powder. I think some of them might have even been rolled in chocolate sprinkles and coconut flakes.

Then when you bit into the ball, there was this delicious syrup that was nestled in the middle. It was sweet and syrupy, and dribbled everywhere if you weren't careful.

Wow, did we demolish our treat that day; I don't even know if we left any for our moms to try.

Soon we kids were jumping around the apartment like maniacs, running around and chasing each other and laughing hysterically. We were really loud, and soon it felt like my cheeks were burning. I put my hands up to them and they gave off heat like the radiators in the winter.

I wondered if I was getting sick, but I didn't care. I was having a great time.

Mom chalked up our crazy antics to all the sugar in the treats until one of my little cousins complained that she was feeling a bit woozy. So they decided to take a closer look at these little treats.

They were called rum balls, but they didn't actually have alcohol in them, right?

After a couple of phone calls it was discovered that, yes, the rum balls did actually did have rum in them.

That explained everything, I guess. We would all survive the ordeal fine -- no worries or trips to the hospital.

I was duly impressed when I heard the news but soon had the beginnings of what seemed to be a headache. I was also saddened to realize those little round treats were off limits for many years. Man, those rum balls were good.

And, of course, we all took a good long nap after that.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 15, 2012 J6

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