Sweet Memories

Sweet Shop

The recent ‘shocking’ Toblerone re-sizing scandal (See the NY Times article here) has sparked outrage amongst chocolate fans and has undoubtedly encouraged those people whom constantly whinge at the shrinking size of Christmas chocolate tins to be outraged. When we were kids everything seemed massive and it is natural for things to look much smaller when you’re now at least four foot taller (and wider if you’ve been constantly bingeing on those chocolates) but you cannot ignore the evidence provided. Whether it’s the uncertainty that Brexit or a new US President brings to financial markets and businesses they cannot hide the fact that chocolate and sweets aren’t what they used to be “in the good old days.”qualitystreet_size_change

Trebor Sweets
Trebor Sweets

Incidents such as the Toblerone scandal make me look back at what kids from my era (70s to 80s) loved to eat and drink. Personally I was never a lover of sweets as I think my low-level OCD didn’t like the mess and stickiness, which resulted from stuffing your face with a ‘10p mix’ of sweets in a scrunched-up, grubby paper bag. rowntrees_jelly_totsThere were never any napkins handed out or pocket-hankies in those days so sticky mouths and fingers were wiped on sleeves or cuffs already soiled with dirt and snots (often with that unmistakeable snail trail cascading upwards from your wrist gaining you a clip around the ear when your Dad saw it.) Sweets that weren’t too messy, such as Barratt’s Sherbet Fountain, were the ones that I tended to go for but even then I was still weird with them. img_3928I never liked the Liquorice stick so I’d dip it into the sherbet to help loosen it up and pour the sherbet into my gob until the sherbet was all gone. The Liquorice stick would either be offered to my brother or a friend (un-licked of course, I wasn’t that mean) or simply binned – something I hated doing as I was, and still am, against wasting food. Continue reading

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Wishing You A Very Retro Christmas

Just the other day, after a marathon seven hours listening to classic 70s and 80s Christmas songs as I wrapped up all my Christmas presents, I started to think of my Christmases as a child and the vast array of cool toys that were available in the shops. Although as a child from a not-so-well-off working class family I only dreamt of owning most of them.

Aside from writing stories and making stuff up, one of my favourite passions is collecting the retro games and toys that I, or my parents, could never afford during my childhood in the 70s and 80s, whether they be TV video game systems, games consoles, classic board games, wind-up or mechanical toys, electronic ‘vacuum fluorescent display’ (VFD) table-top and handheld games or awesome toys such as the British version of the American GI Joe action figure known as ‘Action Man’ – “now with gripping hands!”

Action Man
Action Man
Grandstand's Munchman
Grandstand’s Munchman

The last day of school term before Christmas or summer break (or the last week if you were really lucky) meant being allowed to bring games into school to play. This allowed the wealthier kids to show off their vast array of electronic games from manufacturers like TOMY, Grandstand and CGL, to name but a few. As the majority of them were only single player games it was always just the popular kids or the bullies that were allowed to have a go, whilst the rest craned their necks to try and get a glimpse of the VFD action. Continue reading