Penny Chews (‘Life’s a Journey’ Link-Up, Week 27)

This post is part of a weekly series of ‘link-up’ Posts which reflect on life’s journey, old memories and family stories (see below for more info).

First off, it’s important to warn you that, like shopping at the supermarket, you should never read a Blog on an empty stomach. Especially one that talks about food.family stories

I can remember being a kid at the shops with my Mum, moaning about being hungry and she says something about kids in Africa and I say I’m still hungry. So out comes the 10 pence piece – enough to FILL to the brim one of those little white paper bags full of sugary goodness.

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Food can create such intense associations with memory. We were not fancy eaters in our house. Indeed, I don’t think a piece of pasta passed my lips until I was a grown woman. My parents did not understand it at all. Foreign muck. But they did comprehend the power of the universal child quietener.

Sweets. Candy. Call it what you will, it’s a timeless treat for a child with wide eyes and an appreciation of colour.

Our local sweet-shop (for my brother and me) was the newsagent. As for many kids in the UK in the 70s we found that that silvery 10p was easily enough to cram a bag full of ha’penny yummies. Back in the day when a ha’penny was a real thing. Frankly, looking back now, almost all of the sweets we used to eat have disappeared – perhaps this is because they were almost entirely inedible or unethical.family stories

Take Parma Violets for example. Whose stupid idea was that?! Sweets that taste like perfume? They smelled like my nan (whom I adored by the way – and I suppose it was better than wee).

The long thin paper-wrapped tubes seemed to overtake the traditional ‘quarter’ of sweets in a 3-cornered bag. Refreshers were a family favourite. “The fizz that gives you whizz” was the tagline (sad I know) and featured a granny on speed (or Refreshers presumably). No wonder our parents were reluctant for us to eat too many of them.

My favourites were Sweet Cigarettes. My 12 year old’s face is a picture as I tell him that back in the day we used to call a spade a spade. My, how times change! Not only did we buy them (in bulk on occasion) but we pretended to ‘smoke’ them as if they were real. If I remember correctly they even had pink tips to simulate burning ash!!! But, my, they were tasty. family stories

Sherbert dabs were another treat. Still sold today but in modern form. The old-fashioned variety would be a little white bag of loose sherbert (colour of your choice if you were lucky), accompanied by a stick of liquorice to dip in to it. More speed.

I also remember the often forgotten Cherry Blobs. Oh, and an outfit was simply not complete until it was paired with a fetching necklace made from pastel coloured sweets on a string of elastic. You can wear it AND you can eat it – who knew?!

The newsagent was a place where children skulked in corners whilst adults purchased newspapers, but when the counter was free, the great family of giant jars came into view.  family storiesCherry lips, Wine Gums, Chocolate Eclairs and Chewing Nuts, Honeycomb and ‘Millions’. What a feast for the eyes!

When all was said and done, however, there was one particular sweet which has not only survived the test of time, but has probably been present at most of the defining moments of my progression through childhood. It was there when I fell out of a tree. It was there when I followed my brother and his mates on their Chopper bikes, frantically trying to keep up. It was there when I broke my arm on my plastic roller-skates. Of which old friend do I speak so fondly? It is the humble Bubble Gum. Childhood memories - sweets

Always pink and always individually wrapped. I must have chewed a thousand of them and swallowed around 500. This gave my mother grave concern for a good reason.  I was, at that stage of my life, a hair sucker. I used to put chunks of hair into my mouth and chew it. My mother was convinced that the combination of hair balls and bubble gum entering my stomach would surely render me instantly defunct. I gave them both up.

The only sweet I could never give up was the one that never ran out. The gobstopper. Gigantic balls of aniseed which changed colour with each new layer. Many a tooth fairy has been called in an emergency as a result of their lingering longevity. You couldn’t breathe and eat one. In fact you couldn’t swallow your saliva at the same time as you sucked one, so drooling was an awkward consequence. Joy!

I’ve told you all before that my dad worked at Cadbury’s, so here’s a little treat to put you in nostalgic mood…..

What were your favourites? I’d love to hear from you with your memories of childhood, sweet-related or not!

Write a blog post and link it up! The Linky will stay open for some time yet, so no need to rush. Share your memories with us and tell your friends. You can just join in the comments if you prefer – you don’t have to have a Blog to play! Everyone welcome here. Consider it therapy.

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Next week we’re taking a little tiny break from the Linky, but the good news is that it gives you even more time to join in with this one!!

If you enjoyed this post, please share it using the buttons below!

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More about the Life’s a Journey weekly memories series.

A selection of other posts from this series:-

FIrst day of school memories family storiesWeek 2 – Old School Portrait

family stories best friends

Week 4 – Bestest Friends

family stories teenage crush

Week 5 – Teenage Crushes

family stories grease movie

Week 6 – First Movie Memories

family stories cinderella

Week 9 – Favourite Childhood Books

family stories

Week 19 – Becoming a Parent

family stories

Week 25 – Old Boyfriends

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8 responses to “Penny Chews (‘Life’s a Journey’ Link-Up, Week 27)

  1. What a great post, and trip down memory lane. I was a 70’s child too – cherry lips – rhubarb and custards and space dust! Sweets that made your teeth rot. I can’t believe they sold pretend cigerettes – I had a few of those. Those parma violets were vile – your post totally brought back the taste – yuk! Great post. I’m doing a similar monthly link up for old memories etc called once upon a time.

    • Oh that’s great. I’ll definitely try and join in. It’s hard getting people to write posts for the Linky, but they seem to really enjoy reading them!

  2. Pingback: Childhood sweets and old fashioned sweet shops. « Wendy's World·

  3. Love this post!! I used to love penny sweets. Parma violets, refreshers and beer bottles were my favorite. I know these “ye olde sweet shops” are popping up everywhere but they never seem the same. Its like the shape and look is there but without the taste – oh and it costs a quid now to fill a quarter of a bag!

  4. Hi there. I tried to leave a comment earlier in the week but couldn’t find anywhere to do so. Anyway, I must be having a better day, as I’ve managed it!

    I loved the pretend cigarettes too and the sherbet dabs – more the lolly than the sherbert though! Great theme for the linky, thank you. I really enjoyed joining in and hope to do so again.

  5. Pingback: ‘Life’s a Journey’ nostalgia – a year in review | SaveEveryStep - family stories past & present·

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