Z at school 8 – sweets

Because I never went sweet shopping on my own, any that I normally ate were an adult’s choice.  Those that were passed around at school were such things as – ooh, I think I’ll make a list.

Parma violets.  Strangely flavoured with the scent of violets, a small, convex disc.  They came in small tubes.

Love Hearts.  Also in a tube, a bit bigger discs in pastel colours and tasting of sherbet, each one had a little motto written in a heart shape.

Spangles.  Sadly, these are no longer made.  Square this time, in a tube, little boiled sweets, fruit-flavoured.  The tubes contained several different flavours usually, but I think there were individual ones too.  If they got damp or too hot, they stuck together.

Refreshers.  Sherbet discs, the size of Love Hearts but concave.

Hundreds and Thousands. Nowadays, you’d call them sprinkles and put them on cupcakes.  You got those weighed out by the quarter from a big jar.

Sherbet Pips/Fruit pips.

Sherbet Lemons.  Boiled sweets, quite sharp and acidic with a centre of fizzy sherbet.

Chocolate covered raisins or peanuts.

Various chews.  When my children were – well, children, they were penny chews but, as Sandy said yesterday, Black Jacks used to be 4 for a penny, and the pennies were pre-decimal ones too.  You’d have had 48 for a shilling in the early 60s, but that would equal 5 penny chews.

Oh, there are so many!  I’ll move on to those my mother sometimes okayed, or that came in selection boxes that I might be given for Christmas

Sherbet Fountain.  Now, that was one that was fully authorised.  Indeed, for a while it was a Saturday treat – no idea if my father ate one but the rest of us did.  A cardboard tube with a yellow wrapper, it was filled with powdered sherbet and you sucked it up through a hollow liquorice tube.  If the tube got clogged, you could blow or suck through the other end, but then it got clogged again because it was damp.  You can still get them, I see, but they’ve put a plastic cover over the liquorice stick.

Liquorice sticks.  Hard and chewy – exactly the same now as they ever were – well, they were last time I bought them, which was a couple of years ago.

One of the few sweets that were weighed out at the sweetshop and I was bought sometimes was Aniseed Balls.  I loved them – but, of the ‘like it or hate it’ sort of taste, I usually am in the first category.  A small, hard ball, aniseed flavoured and very hard.  You sucked the sweet for a long time until you got near the middle, then you bit it in half and there was an anise seed to nibble.  You can still buy them, but they don’t have the seed any more, chiz chiz.

Polo Mints.  Well, the mint with a hole.  I seem to remember they were a ha’penny cheaper than other similar tubes? Tuppence ha’penny instead of thruppence, am I right?

Fruit Gums and Fruit Pastilles.  Again, my mother quite liked those and they did have fruit in them, so she reckoned they were the best of a bad bunch.  Fruit pastilles are still delicious, but they’ve ruined the tubes of fruit gums by making them much softer.  The originals still come in small boxes though, each flavour having a different shape.  They do actually taste of the individual fruit.

There were various chocolate bars, of course.  I remember you could still, back in the early ’60s, buy a Cadbury’s chocolate bar for 1d – a penny, that is, which is just under half today’s penny.  It was very small, obviously.  I loved nuts and anything hard and crunchy and was particularly fond of Fruit and Nut chocolate – still am, though I haven’t eaten any for several years.

Mars Bars, Milky Way – messy child that I was, I’d nibble the chocolate off first and then eat the middle, Crunchie, Marathon (now Snickers and not really approved of because peanuts were considered a bit Transatlantic and therefore not quite the thing).  Cadbury’s Flake – yum.  Maltesers.

Walnut Whips – now, they’re still about but they’re a travesty.  It’s a cone of milk chocolate, piped so it swirls, with a filling of – oh goodness, how would you describe the filling? A whipped coffee cream, very light.  It had half a walnut on top of the chocolate.  But the thing is, until about forty years ago, there was another walnut half on the chocolate base, half embedded, with the coffee cream on top of it.  And you ate the first nut, then gradually nibbled away at the substantial chocolate cone, licking away the filling, until you were down to the chocolate base.  Then you worked away with your front teeth at the nut and finally ate the base.  It lasted ages. Then they saved money by leaving out the second walnut and half the point was lost.

Smarties have been spoiled now.  The colours have changed – maybe they don’t have artificial colouring in now?  But they’re paler and dreary and the texture has changed in an odd way.  Or maybe I’ve grown out of Smarties.

Of course, I wasn’t allowed bubble gum and chewing gum was pretty dodgy too.  I finally learned to blow bubble gum when my children were old enough to teach me.

Sweets I didn’t like.  Not a big fan of Bounty bars.  Fry’s Chocolate Cream bar – dark chocolate filled with white fondant icing.  I disliked them enough not to bother eating them.  Anything with a gooey filling – still don’t like them, they’re known as ‘slimes’ in our house.  When we have a box of chocolates, the coffee, orange and strawberry slimes are always left at the end.  Of course, if it’s lovely real fruit purée in the filling it’s a different matter.  I hated Edinburgh Rock, which is tooth-hurtingly sweet.

Oh, back to those I liked … Butterscotch and any sort of toffee.

I’ll have to finish this another time, I’ve got to go out now.  The Cyder Club Wassailing, with a barn dance and hog roast and at least, as I’m the driver nowadays at night, I’ll have every excuse not to rot my innards with too much mulled home-made cider.


11 comments on “Z at school 8 – sweets

  1. allotmentqueen

    “Everyone’s a Fruit and Nut cake …”
    I don’t remember Walnut Whips ever having coffee flavour filling as I don’t think I’d have liked it much.
    Fry’s Chocolate Cream – a bit iffy, but do you remember Fry’s Five Boys:


    It was a tube of solid milk chocolate sort of discs, about the size of a half crown, I think individually wrapped, and was considered a real treat. Mum would buy a tube of them and they’d be doled out one each, so the most you would get is about three of them but you would suck them really slowly to get the full effect. Bit like what I think you should do with Cadbury’s Eclairs these days – suck them until you suddenly get the sugar hit – a real boon in long exams when you’re about to fall asleep ….zzzzzzzzzz……

    I remember those Cadbury chocolate bars – were they as little as a penny? My sister and I used to get given the money to buy one of those every day as we went to the top of the road to catch the bus to school, until it was discovered that my sister was buying “other things” – probably a load of Black Jacks and Fruit Salads – and the money was promptly stopped.

    1. Z Post author

      That was one of the ones I thought of this evening – though I’d remembered the words under the pictures as being quite different! I thought the walnut whips had a choice of coffee or vanilla? – maybe they did a short-lived special run of coffee ones, and it was not a strong flavour anyway. Or maybe I’ve just got it wrong. I used to eat sweets and chocolates really slowly in those days.

  2. Mike Horner

    Hello Z. Ref aniseed balls – there is (or was until very recently) a shop in Ipswich where aniseed balls could be bought with anise seeds in the middle.
    Also family story :- Ann had an elderly cousin (he was, in fact her grandfather’s cousin) who, when he said grace always said “For these and all Thy bounties, Oh Lord we give Thee thanks. Amen”. As he said this grace one day, Ann slipped one of the new Bounty Bars (which we’d bought for the purpose) onto his side plate. He then finished grace as follows “……….. Amen. What the Hanover’s this?” To which Ann, of course replied “I think it must be one of Thy bounties, Cousin Robert.”

  3. Sir Bruin

    Walnut Whips did, indeed, come in a choice of vanilla or coffee. Was the filling some sort of mallow? My granny used to buy them for me. M & S do something similar, but they are not as good as the originals. I used to like the Fry’s Chocolate Cream – far to sweet for me now. I seem to recall that there was a fruit version of it? The filling was different colours as you made your way through it. Anyone remember Caramac? Can you still get it?

  4. sablonneuse

    Gosh, you did well to remember all those. Despite knowing (and eating) them as a child I doubt whether i could have made a list nowadays.
    Yes, Sir Bruin, I remember Caramac but didn’t like it all that much.

  5. Z Post author

    I must track down those aniseed balls, Mike. I also have a request that I find out where to buy liquorice root, please.

    I can’t quite recall the texture of the Walnut Whip filling. Maybe I should stock up on retro sweets for the blog party.

    Caramac used to be made in Norwich, until the Rowntree Mackintosh chocolate factory closed. The Chapelfield shopping mall has replaced it. I think it is still made though – I’ve seen it, not too long ago.

  6. Liz

    This post lead to quite a nostalgic discussion between myself and Sir Bruin this morning.

    I remember love hearts and spangles. There was always some spangles in the selection box we got at Christmas and they always got left until last because we preferred the stuff with chocolate on. Refershers and sherbert lemons I remember too. The sherbert dippy thing I was less keen on because I did not (and still do not) like liquorice. However, I also recall what we used to call a ‘sherbert dib-dab’ that had a lollypop for dipping into the sherbert and that was much more to my taste.

    I have always liked Bounty bars because I have always liked coconut. I wasn’t keen on Fry’s chocolate creams as a child but I loved them when I was older. When I was 19 and working in an office with 2 other girls, one came back from lunch with a pack of 3 Fry’s chocolate creams. We had one each and I famously scoffed all mine before the other two girls had even finished unwrapping theirs. I was not allowed to forget the ‘Fry’s chocolate cream incident’ for the rest of the time I worked there. I also remember the fruit flavoured Fry’s bar. Caramac was too sickly and sweet for me even as a child, but I think my brothers liked it.

    Does anyone else remember the Pink Panther bar? It was made with pink chocolate and almost as sickly as a caramac.

    1. Z Post author

      There’s no point in talking to Russell about it – that’s one place where the generation gap shows itself because there was sweet rationing throughout his childhood! I don’t dislike coconut, but I like other things so much more. Yes, I liked sherbet dib-dab too, though not as much as the fountain.

      I remember seeing the Pink Panther bar, but I don’t think I ever ate one. The generation gap between you and me, I think!

  7. Mike Horner

    Hello Z. We both think the shop is in Tavern Street, in Ipswich, but not sure. However I think the very traditional sweetshop here in Highdale stocks them. I’ll ask sometime this week, and if they’re in stock will buy some for you. They used to cost about sixpence a quarter when I was a boy, but like everything else they’ll have gone up since then. Probably nearer a shilling a quarter now. Will drop them off on you when we next run North. By the way, most good ‘health food shops’ sell liquorice root. Again, I think I can get some in town.
    No, Ann’s just found that one of the girls have left some here, so again, next time we’re your way we can bring you a liquorice stick or so. The one thing I must warn you of, is that, when well chewed, it becomes necessary to spit the woody bits out. Sorry. Regards, Mike and Ann.

  8. three-legged-cat

    Parma Violets and Love Hearts are still made at Swizzles Matlow factory in New Mills. We went for a walk there last summer, the bit of the canal alongside the factory is not very attractive, but the smell is fantastic! Of course, that gave us a sugar craving, but the local newsagents didn’t seem to sell the local produce.


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