As a young child in the 1950 I used to love to visit the sweet shop to spend some of my pocket money. One of my favourite places was called the Kabin, a very small shop we crowded into after Cubs to buy the likes of Flying Saucers, Shrimps and Liquorice Boot laces the sort of sweets my parents didn’t approve of. In those day you could purchase two Flying Saucers or four Shrimps for an old penny. For those of those of you too young to remember flying saucers they were dimpled discs of rice paper filled with Sherbet powder and usually a vile pink colour.
The Kabin wasn’t really a typical sweet shop of the day, most of the ‘proper’ ones had counters laid out with the sweet bars and boxes, with shelves behind them lined with glass jars of loose sweets. Many sweet shops were also tobacconists, but the cigarettes and sweets were normally on opposite sides of the shop.You selected your choice and shop keeper got the jar down and weighed then out on the shops scales, usually into quarter pounds (4oz). They poured them into a paper bag before handing to you. Typically a quarter pound cost 6d.
When I was at Junior school the sweet shop was just over the road on a corner site. There was even a lollipop man on the corner to facilitate access. If we had money we often dropped in before school and by the time we went home what was left of the bag of sweets were a sticky lump with attached bits of fluff from your blazer pocket.
I wasn’t attracted by the chocolate bars, it was the loose sweets in the jars that fascinated me. The selection in those days seemed to be endless, many of which are still available in the packs sold in supermarkets, but many seem to have disappeared. Standing in the shop clutching my silver six penny piece in my hand trying to decide which sweets to buy a quarter of is a lasting memory. What would it be today, Cola Cubes, Sherbet Lemons, Mint Imperials, Boiled Sweets, Aniseed Balls, Pineapple Chunks, Rhubarb and Custard, Black Jacks, Cola Pips, Jelly Beans, Fruit Salad, Sweet Tobacco, Gob Stoppers, Everton Mints, Humbugs, Chocolate Rasins, Parma Violets, Chewing Nuts, Chocolate Limes, Coconut Mushrooms, Acid Drop, American Hard Gums, Love Hearts, Chocolate Peanuts, Winter Mixture, Liquorice Comforts, Aniseed Twists, Barley Sugar, the choice seemed endless. I’m sure many of you had a childhood favourite that I haven’t listed.
Personally as a kid I liked Sherbet Lemons and Devon Milk Toffees best but I often tried something else just to be different. But I went always back to my favourites. My Brother was a different case he just adored Nuttall’s Mintoes and rarely bought anything else. As I grew older my tastes changed and although I liked the occasional bar of chocolate I turned more to nuts and raisins, perhaps a good thing as I have now been diagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic. My Brother never changed, until he died Mintoes were his favourite, although perhaps 20 years ago Nuttall changed the recipe and he moved on to other makes always trying to find something he liked as much as the original Nuttall product.
As a teenager my mother always had a tin of loose sweets on the occasional table next to the sofa. There was a selection in it, but always Mintoes for my brother, Blackcurrent and Liquorice for my mother, Foxes Glacier mints for my Father and whatever I fancied that week. Mum always got something else just incase anyone fancied a change so there were Toffees or Mint Imperial or Sherbet Lemons in the tin as well and as these were not alway popular they were often to be found stuck to the bottom!
When one of my Aunts came to visit she always brought both my Brother and myself a Fry’s Five Boys Chocolate bar. Five boys was launched in 1902 and was the first mass produced solid chocolate bar. Originally it was made in dark chocolate but later also in milk. Fry’s were based in Bristol and invented the process of enrobing sweets in Chocolate to produce what is now a common bar. The first bar being Fry’s Peppermint Cream in which a peppermint fondant was coated in chocolate. Fry’s went on to produce several other flavours of Cream bar filling and of course Fry’s Turkish Delight and Fr’s Chocolate Crunch. Fry’s went on to be purchased by their great rivals Cadbury’s and they continue to market both Fry’s Peppermint Cream and Fry’s Turkish Delight. During the 1960’s the sales of Five Boys started to decline and by 1970 despite a wrapper revamp the decile proved terminal.
Five Boys was of course in competition with Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, but it was the launch of Galaxy from the US giant Mars in the 1960 that proved fatal. Galaxy had been on sale in the US for several years under the name Dove but this name was deemed unacceptable in the U.K. so when it went into production here it had it name changed. Mars has now been so successful in penetrating the U.K. market that it has mimicked several Cadbury’s products. It now sells Galaxy Fruit and Nut bars and Ripple bars which are similar to the Cadbury’s Flake.
Most of the sweetshops of my youth have long disappeared with the growth of packets and bags of sweets on sale in supermarkets and the likes of newsagents and convince stores. However in recent year several chains of old fashioned sweet shops, such as Mr Sims, have appeared on the high street once again selling loose sweets from jars and I have been delighted to see many of the old sweets reappearing, even if I can’t eat them.
© WorthingGooner 2019
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