Fredericton — City police announced 28 senior citizens were charged with unlawful assembly and rioting today after the Pharmasave on Priestman Street was overrun and looted Friday morning, causing more than $50,000 in damages.
The rioters were after Ganong’s double-thick wintergreen mints, a sugary staple of many Maritime homes.
Pharmacist Sue Cogswell, 60, recalls the shock she felt seeing the crowd when pulling up for her 7 a.m. shift.
“I’ll tell ya, I knew something was up immediately. We never get crowds like this, even when the Bounty and Tide’s on discount,” she said.
“I entered from the back. Once they saw me up at the storefront they started banging their canes on glass. Eventually they started putting cement barriers into a shopping cart, and charged the window.”
Last month, the veteran St. Stephen candy manufacturer discreetly announced it was ceasing its double-thick mint production. The emblematic treat had been on the market for more than 130 years.
“The last two bags of Ganong mints near the cash… they didn’t stay intact long. Like watching vagrants fight over the last bottle of Tylenol 1 at closing.”
News of the halted production slowly gained momentum over the past few weeks, and with many personal stashes dwindling, seniors began hunting every clearance bin in the province.
Arleen Boone, 76, was picking up prescriptions Thursday afternoon when she noticed the two bags at Pharmasave.
“Later that evening I was playing bridge over at the Stepping Stone Senior’s Centre. Mrs. Peggy-Ann Burgess was, naturally, spewing off about how she has the very last bag of Ganong mints in New Brunswick,” said Boone. “Of course, I couldn’t stay silent, and I put her in her place.”
An announcement regarding the mints was then made over the loudspeaker, resulting in the early morning mobs.
Most of the rioters walked right out of the Brunswick Hall nursing home, as the preoccupied LPNs were protesting at the Fredericton justice building that morning.
With all the suspected perpetrators now in custody, their motivations and fears are coming to light.
One of the alleged instigators, Patsy Tomer, 87, asserts the DT mints are an integral part of her homestead. “The hell-my gonna’ fill my doily bowls with now,” she said, whittling a Pal-O-Mine into a shiv.
Another rioter, Gwendolyn Dingwall, 136, remembers the first Christmas Eve in which the mints were available.
“My father had just buried us alive in the snow for misbehaving,” she said, smiling through the prison bars. “When he dug us out an hour later, those tasty treats were waiting for us in our stockings. Happiest family under Victoria’s reign!”
Dingwall also wonders about the future of Gangong’s universally hated Sunkist gummies, which she force-feeds to her grandchildren.
“I’m worried that the cycle of abuse will come to an end with the candy factory,” she added.
Despite Pharmasave’s rapid return to normalcy, Cogswell may never look at her regular customers the same way again.
“Most of the time they just force conversation about their grandkids or how Trudeau is a pedophile while you’re trying to work,” she said, staring down an old man struggling to open a bottle of Aspirin. “Next time I’ll make sure I’m paying attention.”