Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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Ice Candy

I read an article recently about how we should encourage entrepreneurial spirit in kids from a very young age. It made think of a time when we were kids and we tried running a business

It was a summer from years ago. Perhaps 1988 or 1989, or maybe a year or two earlier, I can’t be sure. I was young, my brother was younger by a few years, my female cousin older by a few years. Back then our families live under the same roof, my grandfather’s house

We needed something to keep us occupied during the summer. We probably already had a Nintendo around this time, but my brother and I were only allowed one hour of video games a day, so we needed something else to fill the time. I think it was my mother who suggested we run a small business over the summer, sell some food things to people

Our house had a sari-sari store. Sari-sari stores are like small family-owned convenience stores in the Philippines, often run out of the house directly, with the storefront little more than holes in the wall that make up the house’s facade. The one in our house had one small window and one large window, each covered by rusty metal bars half a foot apart. It sold soft drinks (cokes and sprites and whatnot), beer to the local tambays, small bags of chips (Chippy, Clover Chips, Tortillos, etc), small chocolates and packs of nuts and such. As kids we spent a lot of free time at the store, especially when the parents were away. After my grandfather died, the store was taken over by a beloved family friend who had been living with us forever. She often indulged us kids our whimsies, which often meant our parents came home to find out they now owed a bunch more pesos to the store. That summer, we had decided to sell ice candy to the people in the neighborhood through the store

You could be forgiven for not knowing what ice candy was, at least if you didn’t live in the Philippines. It’s a treat made out of frozen flavored water, usually in a long plastic bag that gives it an elongated shape. In the US, they might be called “freeze pops”

My parents gave us some “seed money” (and I suppose my uncle gave my cousin some as well). I think my brother and I would have a separate stock from our cousin, but we would both be selling in the same store. We went to the nearby grocery store and bought the materials we’d need: some powdered flavoring and packs of small plastic tubes. When we got home, our mother showed us how to prepare the ice candy. We would mix the flavoring (I think we used orange flavoring. I liked orange back then) in some water, then pour the flavored water into the plastic tubes and tie a knot in the end to seal them. Then we would leave the tubes in the freezer overnight, and we would sell them the next day

I remember them being a hit, especially with the neighborhood kids. We sold them for I think a peso each, or maybe a peso and fifty centavos. (Things were simple and cheap back then.) I think my cousin used slightly larger plastic tubes and sold her ice candies for a bit more. In theory, we would then reinvest the day’s income into more flavoring and plastic tubes for the next day, but I think it turned out that our parents just gave us more money for the next day’s materials. So perhaps it was less of capitalism and more of “here’s a fun way to earn allowance during the summer”

I specifically remember my younger brother enjoying the business and dreaming of making it big as a businessman. His imagined future business was still ice candy. He imagined having an ice candy empire well-known throughout the land, with rich and famous personalities such as the president coming to his stores to buy ice candy. So maybe the exercise did manage to impart a little bit of entrepreneurial spirit to us after all

I remember at the end of that summer, we were happy with the amount of money we had earned, and we talked about doing it again the next summer. But we never did

Posted by under post at #Nostalgia
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