We remember our favourite classic, retro sweets from the 80s, 70s, 60s and even further back!
Sixty years ago, the Swizzells sweet company tried out a new variety, Love Heart rolls, in their special Christmas Crackers. They were such a success that the fizzy sweets with their fun messages became permanent, selling at 3d a pack.
Generations of children have been in love with Love Hearts ever since – a sculpture of a Love Heart was placed in the ill-fated Millennium Dome as it was seen as such an icon of the 20th Century.
When Princess Diana visited the factory in June 1991, the company produced a special limited edition of Love Hearts, with sweets that read, Prince William, Prince Harry, Princess of Wales and Prince of Wales. Love Hearts have survived to become a sugary classic; but they’re not the oldest sweets on the block by a long chalk...
Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles have been sold since 1881, although these days the original Quaker-family company is owned by Nestlé. (Which, if you are over 50 you pronounce Nestle’s, to rhyme with vessels, having no truck with the fancy French pronunciation used today.) Although the adverts claimed, ‘You can’t help but chew’, they were great if you wanted to have a contest with your sibling to see whose Fruit Pastille could last the longest.
Of course, the best sweet for that was a Rowntree’s Fruit Gum – which first appeared in 1893. Their famous slogan: “Don’t forget the Fruit Gums, Mum" – was invented back in 1958. But if you are reading this and saying to yourself, “no it was Chum, not Mum” that’s because Rowntree’s decided to change it in 1961 as they became sensitive to accusations of ‘pester power’ and didn’t want the nation’s mothers disapproving of them as a brand.
As many a gran knows, 21st Century parents disapprove of sweets – sugar is the enemy! But when we were young and endearments weren’t easily come by, a sweet treat could represent what words couldn’t. In his 2012 TV programme, Life is Sweets, chef Nigel Slater told of how, after his mother died when he was nine his father took to leaving a marshmallow on his bedside table every night. They were, he said, the closest to a goodnight kiss his father could manage.
No wonder, as Nigel said, “something as simple as a sweet can help us time travel so evocatively”. And that applies especially to the ones that got away. Spangles, which came top in a recent survey of sweets you most missed, were introduced when sweets were still on ration (they didn’t come off until 1953). Made by Mars, Spangles were popular because they only required one ration point, whereas most sweets took two. Spangles disappeared in 1984 and despite a brief revival in the Nineties, never made it back. Can’t you just feel one in your mouth now, putting your tongue in that little depression in the middle?
Say Treets – and automatically up pops the slogan, ‘Melts in your mouth, not in your hand’. Peanut Treets were the first, and best, followed by Toffee Treets (not great) and All Chocolate Treets (not bad). Treets disappeared in 1988 – and I’m sorry but Minstrels and M&Ms are just not the same.
- From Woolworths to C&A, we look back at our favourite old shops
Remember Payne’s Toffets? The wonderful red cardboard boxes, in which the sweets rattled enticingly, the chocolate satisfyingly thick around the toffee inside. And best of all, you could get them in vending machines, priced 6d. (If you are one of the naughty ones who can remember how to knobble the machine to get more than one packet out, shame on you.)
Cadbury’s Bar Six
Who recalls the orange wrapper of a Cadbury’s Bar Six? The packaging says Seventies as surely as a space-hopper. Those six sticks of caramel-flavoured wafer covered in chocolate could be shared among more people than a Kit Kat, but disappeared from view in the Eighties, never to return.
Fry’s Five Centres bar
Fry’s chocolate, now part of the Cadbury’s group, always seemed a bit more sophisticated than some of the others. And a Fry’s Five Centres bar was almost as good as havingyour own box of chocolates with gooey fondant centres including lime and raspberry. Fry’s did muck about with it though, changing from plain to milk chocolate, changing the wrapper, the flavours – sometimes coffee, sometimes pineapple and at one point even calling it Medley. No wonder it didn’t survive beyond 1992. They had the sense though not to muck about with their Chocolate Cream – first launched in 1866 and still around today.
Retro sweet shops
Retro sweet shops, selling ‘quarters’ of old favourites like Rhubarb and Custard and Lemon Sherberts have sprung up in many a High Street, catering to our longing for the tastes of our youth. Although sweet cigarettes and tobacco will never return, we can try Black Jacks, Fruit Salads, Parma Violets and Pineapple Chunks – although these days it’s not so much fillings, as chipping the weak enamel on our ageing teeth that we risk. But is it worth it to be back in the days of four for a penny chews and halfpenny liquorice twists? You betcha!