For any adult who now takes a visit to a sweet shop, it is a journey which will transport them back to their childhood. Vivid colours, the smell of the sculpted sugar, the sound of the wrappers as they are tipped from containers into the anonymity of the small white paper bag. It all culminates in the handing over of the very personal prize to be closely guarded until the perfect time arrives to reopen and fully embrace the sensation of their favourite retro sweets.
Where it all began
The thrill of taking pocket money and spending what felt like hours carefully choosing bags of chocolate white mice, rainbow coloured sherbet and chewy cola bottles dates back to the 18th century. It was at this time that the sweet shop was born when the price of sugar dropped and still familiar products such as butterscotch, Turkish delight and mint creams were first sold.
The range increased with great speed however in the 1920s and 1930s when British companies looked to compete with items arriving from overseas. Boxes of chocolates became very popular as gifts and UK producers turned to the art of novelty items to appeal to a young audience who only had a limited amount to spend.
Aimed at giving children choice in their between-meal treats for the first time, a great amount of research was put into launching different tastes, sounds, textures, shapes and flavours. Manufacturers felt that this offered the child the opportunity to express their individuality and also the chance to have control over what they ate when not at the table; in essence an early sensation of independence.
Bags of colourful sweets now invoke memories of a carefree time as well as resurrecting old emotions. Originally a kind of currency; they could be swapped, traded or given to someone as a very special token of friendship. They could also be saved for a rainy day or eaten all at once – just in the same way as money can be used.
Whilst buying bars and boxes of chocolates was seen as an occasion only for Christmas and birthdays because of the price tag, the ready availability of the fantastic choices of a sweet shop meant it was now possible to buy sweets on any day of the week – for very little cost.
The revolution in the re-emergence of buying the personally picked and packaged bags of sweets over the last few years now means that children of today can take part in what was an important part of being young. Cost is still important and so whilst prices have changed, a bag of Barratts Shrimps or Milk Gums is still very affordable to even the youngest of consumers.
21st century technology and old fashioned treats
Sweet shop owners of a bygone age would look on in wonder at the way technology now brings retro sweets to the doorstep through mail order rather than customers needing to walk to their nearest store and choose their favourites. Innovative companies such as http://www.aquarterof.co.uk/ spearheaded the revolution in reigniting the love of indelible names and flavours such as Kola Kubes, Drumstick Lollies and Flying Saucers and shoppers can browse from the comfort of their armchair to select their own personal mix of textures and tastes.
Retro sweets are now well and truly back to stay thanks to the fantastic online sweet shop owners such as A Quarter Of. It’s also testament to the imagination and passion for confectionery of the original manufacturers which mean that children of today can gain as much pleasure from the contents of a very ordinary looking bag as their parents and grandparents did before them.
Disclosure: This is a guest post.