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!
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, 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!
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.
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.