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Wondrous Words Wednesday

April 20, 2016

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

I’m currently reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith for my next book club meeting and have found a few words.

1. sen-sen – “Hildy had brassy blond hair, wore a garnet-colored chiffon bow around her neck, chewed sen-sen, knew all the latest songs and was a good dancer.”


Sen-Sen was a breath freshener advertised as breath perfume in the late 1800s.  It was made with licorice, gum arabic, maltodextrin, sugar, and natural and artificial flavors until 2013.  I wonder why I’ve never heard of them.


2. katies – “The boys wore straw katies with a cord attached to the brim and the other end to their coat lapel.”

A katie is a type of men’s formal summer hat, generally referred to as a boater.


What words do you want to celebrate today?

16 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2016 6:12 am

    I remember sen-sen. Maybe you don’t because you never needed them! :–)

  2. extraordinaryordinarywhimsy permalink
    April 20, 2016 7:39 am

    OK is it weird that I kinda want to try it?

  3. extraordinaryordinarywhimsy permalink
    April 20, 2016 7:40 am

    I’ve never heard of them either. I wonder where it was sold? I wonder if someone on eBay has old packets for sale?

  4. April 20, 2016 8:07 am

    Yes, you can find sen-sen on eBay, although why you would want to . . . I think if fell out of favour because people don’t generally want to smell of black licorice 😉

    I’ve read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn but I don’t remember having ever heard straw boaters referred to as “katies”. Sometimes you don’t have to learn something new every day;sometimes you can learn something you knew but have forgotten. lol

    My words this week are colours.

  5. April 20, 2016 9:37 am

    I also remember sen-sen. I even remembered what it was! And I have certainly heard of a boater. But not a katie.

  6. Patty permalink
    April 20, 2016 10:07 am

    I have actually tasted these…maybe in London? But they actually are kind of interesting. I have not thought about them in a long time!

  7. April 20, 2016 10:24 am

    My grandpa always had sen-sen in his pocket!

  8. April 20, 2016 1:03 pm

    I loved sen-sen as a kid. They came in these very small, flat paper squares that fit just right in a small pocket. As you’ve shown in your picture, the sen-sen themselves were also very small and flat. They were crystal-like pieces of yummy licorice. Just barely a taste. They were secret candy for us kids. It was something we had when we weren’t supposed to, like in church.

  9. April 20, 2016 2:57 pm

    I didn’t know either word, but my husband wore a katie a lot.

  10. April 20, 2016 3:18 pm

    Hi Kathy,

    Here in the UK your hat would definitely be known as a straw boater and it’s an interesting question as to why, if this is a man’s hat, that it would ever have been called a ‘Katie’.

    I don’t know of sen-sen here in the UK, although as a child I can remember being very fond of Liquorice Imps, which sound very similar. I hadn’t thought about them in a while, however I have discovered that they are still made here and are available to buy, only under their current name of ‘Nipits’ – Sorry! this may sound nostalgic, but I still prefer ‘Liquorice Imps’—3-flavours-748-p.asp

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane and I hope that the book makes for a great discussion at your book club meeting 🙂


  11. April 20, 2016 3:24 pm

    I definitely know sen-sens, haven’t had them in a long time.

  12. April 20, 2016 3:35 pm

    I don’t think I’ve had sen-sens. Wonder why they went off the market in 2013.

  13. April 20, 2016 3:46 pm

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – one of my favorites. I remember reading it as a young girl. What a powerful impact it had on me.

  14. April 20, 2016 3:54 pm


  15. April 20, 2016 6:55 pm

    Here is another reason to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn again–for the vocabulary words. Both of these words were new to me!

  16. bookingmama permalink
    April 24, 2016 6:52 pm

    I remember looking up sen sen when I read that book!

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