This might be a St. Louis-based phenomenon, but can anyone tell me why groups of men would join together to sell Pixie Stix* at busy intersections? This morning, my wife was coming home from work and said she saw guys in every median at Lindbergh and I-55, all with buckets of Pixie Stix and holding dollar bills, and I’ve seen individuals selling them at other intersections. I can’t imagine the business is great - not a lot of people driving home from work, thinking, “What I could really use right now is a nice, refreshing Pixie Stick.” Besides these guys selling on the streetcorner, I don’t know that I’ve seen an actual Pixie Stick since I was about 8. Is this some sort of work program for the homeless or something?
*For those of you unfamiliar with Pixie Stix, they’re tubes of colored sugar. Good for training toddlers on how to do lines of coke, I guess.
On a related note, over a dozen kids were suspended from school in Penn Hills (Pittsburgh area) for selling baggies of colored sugar (actually sugar + KoolAid) as “Happy Crack”. Zero tolerance once again makes its mark!
I can think of two reasons: first, it might well be for some church/charity/ball team/whatever. But they tend to have signs or some indication visible, so that brings me to the more likely possibility…
They’re panhandlers. They’re panhandlers with something to sell, though, and for many people that makes them far more legitimate. Same as the guys with the long-stemmed roses at intersections, as far as I can figure. I’ve never heard that these guys were actually sponsored by a homeless group.
I don’t buy the pixy stix or the roses, but I will usually buy a bottle of water when I see someone flogging them. I’ll usually spend a dollar or two, depending on how flush I feel and how hot it is outside. Sure saves me having to go into a gas station, and as a kid I always wondered why nobody sold ice water and popsicles and cold sodas at intersections on hot days. I always figured they’d make a killing.
I’ve misunderstood either the proper way to do lines of coke (never done it, but I was under the impression that you snort it up your nose) or the proper way to eat Pixie Stix (I always put them in my mouth).
And since I only just spotted this after I posted…
Back in high school, I was on a field trip with a three-to-four hour drive to and from and about twenty other theater students. We’d taken the same trip up to Austin every year we were in the class, and every time we would stop at the same gas station. All us kids got on the bus at about five in the morning, sleeping for the first two hours until we got to that concrete oasis, and when we stopped the few who’d already woken up would shake everyone else and we’d pull our somewhat disheveled selves out of the bus and into the station’s convenience store.
Since it was an all day trip, most of us had a few bucks for lunch and maybe a few more out of our allowance. Mom usually sent me out the door with a ten or a twenty when I went on these trips, and I wasn’t the only one so richly gifted (yeah, it was the nineties, but twenty dollars was a lot when I was fifteen and it was a poor community). So each of us would slump into the convenience store to get a Dr. Pepper and a donut or something of that nature.
Not Derek. (Name not changed. Maybe he reads these boards. If so, Hi Derek! :)) He was an occasional friend and probably the reason I tend to get on with bitter sarcastic social misfits. He got his Dr. Pepper, but he’d sworn blind before the trip that his big purchase was going to be the bag of 100 Pixy Stix. All of us were excited. How much straight sugar could we really handle?
We were about to find out.
Just eating the stix got dull after the five-or-so of us had about six each. Blue was decided to be the best flavor, and we did briefly try mixing flavors to determine the ambrosia of artificiality. Some of us (I don’t believe I did) actually SNORTED a bit of the sugar like cocaine, because Drugs Are Cool (Note to kids: drugs are not cool). Blue was also decided to be the best to snort.
The following is an illustration of how poor our old chemistry teacher was – had we known enough about how carbonation works, we would have known the outcome of this marvelous experiment before attempting it. But since we’d determined blue was the best flavor for tasting and inhaling, what would happen when it was combined with the Chateau Lafitte of all sodas, the Dr Pepper? Surely we would be sent to some marvelous plane of taste. Or possibly Willy Wonka’s factory.
None of us was wise enough to warn of the carnage to follow.
With some ceremony, after freshly opening his 20-ounce bottle of soda, Derek poured the tube of blue pixitude in.
What followed, of course, was the most impressive volcano this side of Mount Saint Helens or water and baking soda. To Derek’s credit, only a few drops of soda made their way onto the floor. He thought quickly – the only way he could prevent himself from making a big enough mess that we’d never go on one of these field trips again was to cut off the flow of soda-fountaining, so he stopped it the only way he could.
By putting his mouth over the opening, naturally.
His face began to redden as we all, as one, began to laugh hysterically. I’d swear there was Dr Pepper coming out of his ears. The girls in the group (me and one or two others, really) stopped laughing first, patting his back and asking if he was quite all right. The pertinent question was asked after Derek had the chance to stop drinking Pepper-froth and take a breath, laughing at himself and wiping off his mouth:
In my misguided youth I had a job (for a week) selling books business to business. Basically on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday you would go out to as many businesses in your target area as possible and drop off a sample of whatever book you were selling for the week.
On Thursday and Friday you would go back to pick up (hopefully) lots of orders and give folks their books. You’d also take along a secondary-sell item like some cheap faux-leather bag or a stuffed monkey with velco arms. (You’d be surprised… when I was being trained we went to a bank where people were practically jumping out of windows and chasing us down in the parking lot to buy those monkeys)
At the end of the week, you paid for the books you sold and kept the profits.
Anyhoo this is only notable because one of the alternate divisions of this company was the whole selling flowers on the corner thing. Those guys didn’t work for themselves, but likely (using the same business model) bought flowers from the company and then attempted to sell them.
The guy I worked for had been so successful doing it that he’d opened his own office and had people like me working for him. I guess the idea was that if I’d been that successful I could open MY own office as well.
Being young and unorganized, I lost the sheet I had written everything on and couldnt find half the samples I had left. Lucky for me my boss was pretty nice about it. He treated me fairly when I came in to quit and I even walked out with a little bit of money (which meant some of those lost books came out of his pocket).
So, there’s at least a possible scoop on the flower-sellers. I got nothin on no pixie sticks though.
Little Plastic Ninja, they do just that in Rio de Janeiro. It is awesome to be on a sweltering city bus, stop at a stoplight and have your choice of soda, water, snacks, etc. handed to you through the bus window by a kid on the corner, for something like 35 cents each.