1970s British Candy-A Sweet, Nostalgic Trip Down Memory Lane

I love Sweet Stuff! I love candy!

There I have said it. I write this article as an answer to a question in the answers section by chrae.

It sent me off down one of my nostalgic avenues and I could taste all of my favourite confectionary in that moment - the taste was not pleasant, it was too sweet and my jaws got stuck together at the thought of jellies mixed with toffees mixed with gums and dessicated coconut; so I decided I needed to give each of my favourite sweet things a short paragraph of its own.

Not for me popping in licorice allsorts AND sports mixture. Each deserves praise in its own right. I can't gloss over the wonder of discovering a black tennis racquet in a quarter of sports mixture; anomolous little devil - the only licorice flavoured sweet in a bag full of vaguely fruit flavoured ones. But, it was yummy!

So come inside (we're in a tent in my back garden now and we're going back in time to 1976); I'm thirteen and I've just had my first brush with tooth decay - an extraction, but no matter, the world of sugar and E Numbers lie in wait.

Ready? Got your bottle of Roller-Cola? Let's dive in!

Wow, there are a lot of black ones here - if I got a quarter of Sports Mixture with this many licorice ones, I would be SO happy!
Wow, there are a lot of black ones here - if I got a quarter of Sports Mixture with this many licorice ones, I would be SO happy!

Sports Mixture - They Should Stick All Over Your Teeth....And They Do!

Sports Mixture are vaguely fruity flavoured hard jelly like sweets which are shaped into sports equipment (English sports equipment) so you can tip your bag onto your lap and find tennis racquets, footballs, cricket bats and rugby balls, all different colours and all different flavours.

But be aware, the black cricket bat is not blackcurrant; it is as I have already discussed, licorice flavour.

I'm still unsure why the makers, Lion Brand, allowed this strange occurrence.

I used to imagine that there was some kind of major mishap at the Sports Mixture Factory (all the workers there wore cricket whites in these imaginings) and the wrong flavouring got tipped into the mix and voila! Licorice instead of blackcurrant - it shouldn't work but it does, though I accept that licorice is an acquired taste. Thankfully, I love it.


Sasparilla Tablets
Sasparilla Tablets
Pear Drops
Pear Drops
Kola Cubes
Kola Cubes
Pineapple Chunks
Pineapple Chunks

Sasparilla Tablets, Pear Drops, Kola Cubes & Pineapple Chunks

Yeah! 'The Hard Stuff' - all of these sweets were boiled sweets. They were rock hard and you had to suck them for five minutes to get the best out of them.

Sasparilla Tablets were a long, thick sweet with a curved top. They were delicious, tasted, not unsurprisingly, of sasparilla but could become occasionally bitter the further into them you got but the best bit was the length of time it took to eat a whole one. I enjoyed many a cut on my tongue from catching it on a jagged 'bubble' on the sweet. It didn't put me off though, I 'sucked it up' and powered through to the end and the wonderful crunch needed to finish it.

Pear Drops were the shape of a pear, covered in a sort of dusty sugar and they tasted of what confectioners imagined a pear tasted like. I think they were nicer than real pears but they were fairly one-dimensional boiled sweets, though the flavour was quite subtle so they were often eaten as a change from my normal favourites, just to give my taste buds a quiet day.

Kola Cubes and Pineapple Chunks both sound like great sweets and they were, mainly because a rock hard boiled sweet square is a great shape for a sweet; they were just the right size. They were covered in powdered sugar, rock hard until you'd sucked them for about five minutes and then they gave way between your teeth to reveal a delicious soft centre. Both excellent sweets which kept their shape and sweetness until they gave way. Never eaten at the same time - that would just be wrong!

Licorice Allsorts, perfection!
Licorice Allsorts, perfection!

My Sweet Affair With Bertie Bassett......It Still Goes On Today

Bertie and I have enjoyed our almost life-long relationship and have had only two years apart when, through some quirk of dieting (thanks WeightWatchers) and self-discipline, I did not eat any sweets for over two years.

I have been eating licorice allsorts since I was knee-high to a grasshopper and I think it's because of the word 'AllSorts'.

When you open the box, it is magical, the colour against the blackness of the licorice is amazing.

I tasted my first allsort when I was about four or five; one of the pink, beady aniseed ones and that was it - I was hooked.

When you offer around the box to friends and family (you MUST share sweets, they taste better when you share them) there is always one allsort that people don't like - "don't like the all licorice one", "not fussed on the coconut ring ones", "don't like the beady ones".

Fair enough, there is no accounting for taste - I love em all.

Candy Alphabet Letters
Candy Alphabet Letters
Shrimps
Shrimps
Fruit Salad chews
Fruit Salad chews
Drumstick lollies
Drumstick lollies

What Is A Ten Pence Mix Up?

In 1976, a ten pence mix up was a bag of different sweets you could buy at a corner shop or newsagents which included a selection of things like penny chews, flying saucers, Black Jacks, Fruit Salad, Anglo bubble gums, jelly snakes, cola bottles, white mice, gobstoppers, candy alphabet letters and Barrett's Shrimps.

For 10p in 1976, you got a bag FULL of sweets - lots of different sweets. You always ate the bubble gum last!

I'm not sure you could get a 10p mix up now; it would only have 3 things in it so not worth the bother - they probably cost 50p now.

We didn't get much pocket money in 1976; I think I got 30p a week from my parents and I used to spend 10p of it on a mix up sold by a grocery van which came into our street every evening.

I still eat this type of sweet now but not very often; my dental history reveals a love of sweet things so whilst I enjoy the occasional kola bottle, I don't think my crowns would be up to candy alphabet letters. Such a shame!

Well that was my trip down memory lane - sitting with you in a one-man tent on my lawn in my garden with nothing more than pop, sweets and a Beano and Dandy comic to amuse us.

I had a great time, thanks for joining me.

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Comments 24 comments

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Martie -you sound like a woman after my own heart, sweet teeth and all :o) Licorice Allsorts are still my favourites, nothing comes close...except midget gems....or maybe sports micture....oh dear.....:o)


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK Author

Mary, glad you came into the tent and reminisces with me - come back soon :o)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa

Oh, how I love licorice allsorts. I actually love sweets of all sorts. I KNOW all the bad about eating sweets, but there is still no way I will (can) stop eating sweet things.

Awesome hub! I am going to feel guilty for a while, haunted by this lovely hub of yours, jools, but then I am going to eat a handful sweets regardless of.... :)


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

How can anyone resist a hub about sweets? You've certainly done them justice in your vivid descriptions. Sitting with you in a one man tent in your backyard was fun.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Linda...thanks for stopping by again! :o)


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Still a Yummilicious hub!!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Annie, many thanks for your comment - I would be interested to know what you Aussies ate in a mix up. I watch Biggest Loser Australia (we're Biggest Loser addicts) and they eat lots of cakes and things which are completely new to me. My sister in law is Australian and she brings goodies back when she travels home to see her family.


Fennelseed profile image

Fennelseed 4 years ago from Australia

I have to agree, Jools - NOTHING comes close to Liquorice All Sorts - your profile background excited me and I was delighted to scroll down and find this hub on my favourite sweet and more. I am not familiar with these names but I do remember buying a sixpence bag of sweets as a child - my current dental status sadly also testament of my love of sweets. I don't eat a lot of them these days, not unless Liquorice Allsorts are on offer!!! Thank you for the memories and the cravings :)


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Tallulah, oh yes, cigarettes and tobacco - how dare we! We used to let the spaceships go soggy on our tongue and then the sherbet just escaped on its own - fab! Thanks for your lovely comment.


Talullah profile image

Talullah 4 years ago from SW France

Oh my goodness, this took me back! All those lovely sweets, although they are too sweet for me these days, and some of them were instant tooth-rot! I remember with fondness sherbet dabs, spaceships, and sweet 'cigarettes' (still available but political correctness has re-named them 'candy sticks'! Oh, and sweet tobacco, too; now you've really got me thinking! Thanks for the trip down memory lane. A well-written hub.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Angie, I forgor about licorice catherine wheels - yummy! Your dad must have had good taste! I do enjoy Haribo especially the ones which combine both gum and marshmallow, I really enjoy anything sour as well. Thanks for commenting.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Flora, I love Werthers Original - but those little devils are addictive! I tend not to eat many hard candies but I do enjoy a Werthers every once in a while. Thanks for commenting!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Lesley, I loved Kola Cubes. especially the soft centre! Wish I had managed to give up sweets but I haven't! Thanks as always for your kind comment.


FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

Ah, yes. Candy is something I haven't been able to give up. I remember eating licorice all sorts when I was little. I'm sure Mom ate all of these here. Dad is a big fan of licorice, I prefer other candies. My current favourite hard candies are from Werther's Original.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

Kola cubes and pear drops, they bring back memories - haven't had them in years! this is a trip down memory lane, a ten pence mix up, those were the days!!

A great hub and voted up!


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

What have you started, Jools! I loved all of those things except the liquorice thing in the Sport Mixtures. I also love Dew Drops, Rhubarb and Custard and esp. the Flying Saucers.

Oh and the strawberry bootlaces and the liquorice novelty shapes. My dad loved them too so I had to buy him a selection box with liquorice catherine wheels and pipes etc. every birthday.

Even though I'm now 63 I still have a regular craving for the modern equivalent of gums ... the now-ubiquitous Haribo Sports Mix. I'm truly hooked and have to eat them a bag at a time.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Peggy, thanks for your comment - yes, I love the long licorice 'laces', Iused to like the strawberry ones as well.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

I was never that much of a candy eating fan but I loved those long black strings of licorice which was just an occasional treat in our family when we were growing up. Thanks for the memories! Voted up!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Bob - welcome, fellow Licorice Allsorts nut! They are my absolute favourites, nothing else comes close and I take them on holiday with me just in case I can't get anywhere I'm going. I once ate 6 Bounties in a day (Milk Choc variety)in the 80s, a story which became the stuff of legend with my workmates at the time but I only have one every once in while now. My sister once took a dislodged crown with her to the dentist, still smothered in Thornton's toffee! Ta! for commenting.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 4 years ago from UK and Mexico

Hi Jools. Now you've started my sugar jones for the weekend!

Liquorice Allsorts are my all time favourits candies (sweets here). I took some to my friends in a tiny Mexican village where I lived for a few years and they went wild over them, too.

I like Bounty Bars (dark choc), Kit Cats, pear drops, barley sugars and all toffee (to hell with the plastic crowns)

great hub...don't do it again!!

Bob


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Lynda, Ah, another licorice fan! I just love the stuff but I do try to behave myself a bit more and just have them as a treat now...but I miss 'em! Thanks as always for your comment!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Chrae, Great question - knowing me I have probably failed to include the necessary modules required to make it an 'official' answer but I did enjoy writing the hub! Thanks so much for your comment, much appreciated.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

I love licorice! I think I got a cavity or two from reading this hub! It was sooooooo sweet!:)


chrae profile image

chrae 4 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

awesome hub!!! great answer to my question and really enjoyed some of the history about the confectionery in the UK. I'm not a massive fan of licorice but everyone has their own tastes. Voted up, awesome!! :)

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