The curious case of the giant gummy worm


Grandparents. Where do I even start? Grandparents are one of life’s greatest pleasures indeed, for both kids and parents. I am beyond lucky that my kids have grandparents on both sides that take an active part in their lives and offer to babysit them whenever possible and do amazing things for them on a regular basis.

These are the same grandparents who do things like buy them giant gummy worms that look like something that can be found in Willy Wonka’s acid-tripping rainforest from hell and let them drink Dr. Pepper at will. I can see with whom the grandparents are trying to score points with purchases like that. Hint: Not me.

When did these people, who were so decidedly un-fun when we were kids, turn into people who buy gummy worms the size of a human leg? This is obviously a common problem because things like cotton candy machines (my neighbor’s kids just got this from their grandparents), Easy Bake Ovens, snow-cone makers, Moon Sand, paint guns, Hershey bars the size of my bed and Kidz Bop CDs exist. Grandparents. And some aunts. I can’t leave out the fact that my sister, their aunt, bought my two kids guns that makes flatulence music in fifty different ways. (Incidentally, when said aunt kept her beloved nephews for a week this summer I was sure to have them pack their favorite toy for her to enjoy.)

Because what parent doesn’t think things like “You know what’s great? Cotton candy. It’s blue. Sticky. Pure fluffy, air-puffed sugary unicorn hair! What’s better than letting my kids eat it all the time? Letting them make it themselves! Whenever they want! Here, honey, come make yourself some cotton candy! It’ll be fun! It’ll be sticky! It’ll ruin your teeth AND my carpet all at the same time! Wheeeeee!”

No parent. That’s who thinks that. No parent ever. That’s okay because parents aren’t the target audience for things like this, everyone knows that a grandparent (or an aunt) will be buying the at-home cotton candy machines of the world.

In all seriousness, I’m giving the grandparents a hard time, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My kid got great grades on his report card and for his reward he wanted a “World’s Largest Gummy Worm” (which can be found on for all you grandparents reading this) as his reward. If it weren’t for grandparents his only reward would be the one he got from me, which was a big pat on the back and permission to keep breathing and using his X-Box.

So, thanks, grandparents, for doing and buying all the fun things for my kids I never will. Also, for also making me really look forward to all the things I get to buy for my own grandkids someday, including but not limited to: a baby monkey, an edible bed made of Twizzlers and marshmallows, lifetime membership to Puppy-of-the-Month club, an indoor body paint studio, and, obviously, a cotton candy machine.

Paula Brown is a writer and mother and is zero percent fun when it comes to buying things. She can be reached at

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