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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.

References (2)

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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)

Oh, girl, I UNDERSTAND. I'm a Tic Tac Box Player from WAAAAY back.

(Of course, I grew up in a developing country ....)

My sister and my son were/are both Tic Tac container players. My son used to take them in the tub with him and they were more fun than any bath toy I ever bought!

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLora

Have you seen the "proper way to use a tic tac box"? It's kind of blowing my mind right now. Frankly, you're not weird. If you had played with an empty tic tac box without scrubbing the label and glue off, then you would have been really weird.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStefanie

Yes. Same experience with tic tac boxes ... kind of want to go get one right now.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

Oh my god this post sparked explosions of nostalgia. I can feel them going off like fireworks in my chest. I can feel the cold porcelain of the pedestal sink in our circa 1920s bathroom, smell the smell of my childhood home. I haven't been in that house in almost 15 years, I don't know who lives there now. I wonder if I left any perfect Tic Tac boxes there, to be thrown out like so much trash.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commentereep

I love this post! It makes me feel much better that my son isn't the only child who has nothing to say that doesn't immediately relate to Minecraft. And that he has an encyclopedic understanding of the faux value of Magic cards. And that he loves to make potions and put them in small containers (you should check out the tiny little bottles with cork stoppers you can get in craft stores now -- you'd love them!) and save them ... until they get cloudy with mold and funk and I have to decontaminate them. Which I do, happily, because then he can make more disgusting cloudy water potion funk instead of playing Minecraft. You remind me that it's all good. Weird is the new normal.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaurenR

Thirty years later, one of my most prized possessions remains my PINK-tinted Tic Tac box, which is filled with ash from Mt. Vesuvius.

Love the Tic Tac box.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStefanie

Lauren, we have multiple containers with colored-water potions in them!

All of you: I knew I wasn't alone. Hooray!

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteralice

We did this too! (In Ireland, in the 80s.) I think the best thing to do was wedge a pencil sharpener in there so that you had a fancy sharpener that held the sharpenings until you chose to dispose of them, instead of having to hold it over the trash can.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

I totally did the same thing with Tic Tac boxes. I also, once they were de-labelled, used to drink out of them. I have no idea why it was so satisfying to drink two teaspoons of liquid at a time out of Tic Tac boxes but it totally was!

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristie

I never did this, but it sounds like something I would've done.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterValerie

I used to store my embroidery thread in Tic-Tac boxes. It made all my friendship bracelets smell minty.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCindy

Okay. Since we're sharing. You know those pill dispenser tray thingies? For people who take multiple pills multiple times each day throughout the week? My mom has one (it's blue). I "trained" her to call me whenever she was going to close them all, because the sound, that snap of closure, was the most satisfying sound ever. Well into my 20's she would still do this, and wherever I was in the house, I'd come running. To hear the sound of closure. The end.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGreen

Hmm. Well I never did the Tic Tac thing, but my dad chewed gum, so maybe I just had a deprived childhood. Minecraft though? My 10 year old is big on the Minecraft. He spent a lovely afternoon this past weekend at a friend's house playing Minecraft indoors for three hours straight. He finished an art class last week where he worked as much Minecraft into his art projects as he could. And today he wore his most favorite Minecraft t-shirt to school. I guess it's ok- all the other 4th and 5th grade boys I know seem to be mildly Minecraft obsessed too...

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterholly c

Are you in my head?!?! Yes yes yesyesyes yes. tic tac boxes are the sh** and awesome and now I have to have some. In fact, I often want to impulse buy them at the supermarket and hubbie always stops me like, we don't need tic tacs. And I agree. We don't. But the boxes... we needs them, my precious, oh yes.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMama Bean

I also had a love of Tic Tac boxes and all things miniature. A frying pan? Boooooring. A miniature frying pan? Awesome!!! Doll house stuff rocked. On the same idea as the color-tinted concoctions, my friend and I used to make "eyeshadow" out of water, powder and food coloring and store it outside in an unused dog house so no one would find it. Total wackadoodles. :) The funniest part is that we never wore our special eyeshadow. It just hardened in the cup and we would throw it away a few weeks later.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Yup, I also coveted Tic Tac boxes. I used to fill my empties with the circles that came from hole-punching paper. Heaven!

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPam

The sound and feel of opening and closing those boxes? The. BEST.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrahree

And they say that Internet communities aren't real. Where else do you find the 10 other people who played with tic tac boxes? I love the post and all of the responses. I wish I would have played with tic tac boxes. Maybe I can get my 4-yr-old into it.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Mine: bendy straws. I still have to keep it down to a shout when I encounter one now.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBecky

9-years-old. Consuming an entire container of orange tic-tacs. Having the empty container for my very own. Can life get any better than that? I submit that it CANNOT.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRachel N.

Orange Tic Tacs were, and are, the BEST.

March 12, 2013 | Registered CommenterAlice

And Sucrets tin boxes and Band-Aid tin boxes!

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLesli

"Don't trade in your Tic Tac box for a ball on the end of a chain...."

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTheOtherDawn

I had a box of tic tacs once and my older (boy) cousin said to me 'What are those, your birth control pills?!' He then proceeded to laugh and high-five his friends. I thought it MUST be cool even though I had NO idea what that was. I started calling them my Birth Control Pills (after I removed the labels). An old lady asked my 10 year old self what I was eating and I replied 'my birth control pills'. My mom fell over dead and I stopped calling them that. Then I shot my cousin with my BB gun.

March 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

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