WHEN, to the sessions of sweet,
silent thought, I summon up remembrance of things past, I realise that,
although I have sometimes bitten off more than I could chew, when it came
to the crunch, my life has been sweetened by a trove of treasures,
toothsome but tough on dentist’s bills.
Here, try a sample from the
Morris Box of Assorted Nice Days. Never mind the hard, outer shell
suggestive of obdurate dedication to the Calvinistic work ethic; the
centre is soft and a tastebud revelation of succulent sloth. Sometimes,
fate will do me no flavours and I have days that are hard to swallow,
perhaps caused by a sudden spurt of Inland Revenue interest in one’s
affairs or a hyper-inflated council tax demand.
Generally, my life has been a mixed bag, ranging from cough pastilles that
gave me a breath like a flamethrower, to coconut crisps, hinting of
tropical decadence, and when I slip the surly bonds of this soor ploom
planet, I hope to enter a big, rock-candy, lemon-drop, caramel-wafer
As a sucker for sweets, I was particularly
interested in the news that Cadbury’s Dairy Milk bar celebrates its 100th
birthday this year. Its sales last year neared £320 million in the
lucrative £2.6 billion British confectionery market and it is now
Britain’s most popular chocolate bar.
Great brandy balls, I remember
the bar well when I was in a sticky coagulation of mixed infant hard-boilings
on classroom display who used to set on edge the teeth of our male
teacher, an old, as they say in bad-mouthing Scotland, "sweetie wife".
THAT product was then beyond our pocket-money grasp, but there were
Cadbury’s halfpenny and penny bars, and these we tackled with the feeding
frenzy of locusts laying waste to the countryside. Oh, how we dreamt our
blown bubblegum dreams, how, even after Sunday school, with its promise of
a Paradise Fruit afterlife, we speculated on the existence of a nut fudge
Nirvana and the security of supply of tablets handed down on high by
indulgent parents and fond aunts.
Life then, for me and my
sweet-grinding group, was something to be savoured, with the boys being
introduced to the temptations of wine gums and the lip-dangling decadence
of sweet cigarettes and the girls to the maternal mastication delights of
In that heady atmosphere, I had a sweetheart,
tastefully decorated in a white blouse, black gymslip and black stockings
who resembled a small, animated, liquorice allsort. I offered her my
sherbet dab and a shard of furniture-glue toffee, apt to induce temporary
lockjaw, but she was already toffee-nosed, had the walnut-whip-hand,
refused to bite and the encounter was, alas, nugatory.
remember, too, those sermonising, schismatic Sabbaths where the bells told
of congregations split among secretive, acid drop suckers, those who
braved the Hellfire of Victory V lozenges and Fisherman’s Friend pastilles
and others who favoured the flavour - despite pagan hints - of pan drops.
The combined exhalations doubtless excoriated sin wherever it lurked, and
I remember joining in peppermint-fresh prayers directed celestially under
THEN there was the Dolly
Mixture (once a well-known childhood sweet) at city dance halls where
females were lined up like chocolate bars on shelves. Some, despite their
physical allure and cosmetic charms, were hard-centred and known as "chewsy".
They did not willingly submit to being picked like a praline from a packet
by some young gobstopper, and, with biting sarcasm, would tell him to cut
his milk teeth on someone else.
In my young,
confectionary-rich, courting days, I bombarded girl friends with bon bons
enrich-ed with bon mots and anything from double-strength butterscotch to
enough Berwick Cockles to sink a battleship, from pear drops to Pontefract
cakes and chocolates which I said, quoting an advertising blurb, had "centres
like strange sins". They seldom made a favourable impression on the
lasses, many of whom gazed at my offerings with astonished suspicion but
efficiently worked through them in cinemas and theatres, making the
rhythmic, rotary motions and sounds of efficient cement mixers.
then, I have eaten Babe Ruth candy in Boston, Hershey bars in Hollywood,
sampled Belgian chocolates fit for an EC commissioner in Brussels, and
tasted the sweetmeat exotica - from jujubes to jelly beans - of North
African souks that satisfy confectionery cravings from the sweet-tooths of
great sheiks to the tastebuds of the tented Tuareg.
essentially-biased opinion, British sweets, especially in chocolate
texture and taste, have the world licked. So I salute Cadbury’s
century-old bar and, while acknowledging the impressive counter
attractions of the Mars Bar, Fry’s Chocolate Cream, KitKat, etc, wish it
undiminished toothsome triumphs.