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Which Decade Had the Best Sweets?

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by Bastion Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
Published January 5th 2014
Image from Wikipedia

Sweets. Our love affair with these teeth rotting morsels of joy starts from childhood, but can carry on way into adulthood. Whether or not you still eat them is insignificant; what is important are those childhood memories

My memory of sweets is very clear. Every Friday after work, my dad would pick me up from play scheme and drive to the newsagents before going home. He was there for a lottery ticket. I was there for sweets.

Image from Wikipedia

The shopkeeper was Dad's best friend, and I used to call him Uncle. All the penny sweets were visible under the counter, while boiled sweets were kept inside big shelved tubs on the wall. I would point out to Uncle how many I wanted of everything, he'd weigh them, bag them, and I'd return to the till with far more than a week's pocket money would pay for. Dad would pay up, and before we got back in the car, my fingers were already dipping into the paper bag.

m&ms, sweets
M&Ms, Picture taken by Evan-Amos, Wikipedia

That's how I ended up with three fillings. Fortunately they were all baby teeth, and when they fell out, I decided to stop eating sweets and save my new set from going the same way.

I might not eat sweets anymore, but the memory of them is what brings the real joy. For Christmas Dad and I bought my Gramps a hamper of retro sweets, and it made me start thinking, which decade had the best sweets? If you could go back to any decade for a taste of nostalgia, which would it be? Here are some examples of the most popular sweets from each decade. I have highlighted my favourites:

Pear Drops
Picture taken by Kate Hopkins, Flickr

1930s: coconut ice, mint imperials, rock candy, pear drops, Fry's Peppermint Cream, jelly beans, wine gums, chocolate limes, raspberry ruffles, gummi bears.

1940s: aniseed balls, Catherine wheels, Fry's Chocolate Cream, sarsaparilla tablets, M&Ms, sherbet lemons.

jelly babies
Image from Wikipedia

1950s: coconut mushrooms, rhubarb and custards, Caramac, Curly Wurly, Sherbet Dip Dab, Vimto bar, Jelly Babies.

1960s: candy necklace, Drumstick lolly, Sherbet Fountain, milkshake bottles, Dolly Mixture, Jazzies, flying saucers.

Image from Wikipedia

1970s: fruit salad chews, Parma Violets, Love Hearts, cola bottles, popping candy, Refreshers lollies, gobstoppers.

1980s: Cadbury's Freddo bar, Refresher chews, gummi worms, Chewits, fried eggs.

1990s: Skittles, Push Pops, Toxic Waste sour candy, Hubba Bubba bubble gum, pink shrimp, yellow bananas, white mice, Percy Pigs, Millions.

By the looks of things I liked the eighties best. I was particularly partial to gummy sweets and anything with sherbet. What about you?
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For me it was the Seventies. You could go to a milkbar (yes, they existed back then) and buy 20c of assorted lollies and you would get Sherbets, milkbottles, caramels, snakes, pretty well anything went back then. It was a great time to grow up in Australia in the 70's. Watching Puberty Blues on TV a couple of years ago brought back so many great memories. Mandy E,
by steve (score: 2|134) 3311 days ago
1960's! The "60's" had more selection, more flavour, more variety and wonderful new sweeties invented after the austerity of two World Wars with severe rationing, especially sugar.
Australia had an excellent 'lolly' producing industry which has been decimated and obliterated due to the cheap, nasty, rubbish imports from Brazil, Chile, SthAfrica, so much from China, and everywhere else.
Australia can't even make lollies anymore! That's the state of our country now and it's a tremendous pity.
I do not like Gummy anythings. Gummy is not a decent Lolly, and Gummies have limited flavour - they give no satisfaction at all. Bet you cannot imagine up the actual flavour of anything Gummy!

I remember Liptees (hard sugary white outside & menthol pale green inside), boxes of red SOS, and sugar-coated Black Crows!
Dragging the soft outside off Choo-Choo bars with yr teeth, Aniseed Licorice Squares you had to bend & bend to separate, and the pain in yr jaws from chewing chocolate covered White Knights, and the Pink White Knights, too.

Our lollies had fabulous FLAVOURS, wonderful textures, and were soooo satisfying. MacRobertsons Chocolate Nougat Bars with peanuts inside, there was a delicious NUTTY BAR, and honey-sticky TOSCA bar (where's George?). The proper sugar-dusty JellyBabies, red or green Umbrellas on sticks, Musk Sticks to suck into sharp pencil shape, Mr Big aniseed flavoured 'Cigars' with gold paper ring, the packs of lolly 'Fags', chocolate covered 'Turtles' were blobs of chewy Toffee and Peanuts covered in Chocolate, ahhh yumm! Real Peanut Brittle squares! Oh, how I miss them all!
The Honey Bears, proper Fizzoes that did Fizz, POLLY-WAFFLES, Peppermint Crisps - the real, proper ones, not the boring fake thin type of now with minimal flavour. What about WILLOW MINTS? They were wonderful!! Rich toffee with a square of white mint toffee in the middle, wrapped in Willow Patterned waxy twist-wrappers. You could get Butterscotch with int flavour, too. Mmmm, Toffee infused with Mint.
Who remembers the Donald Duck X29's the orang icy-poles, or the Spearmint ice-cream on stick - always 1/2" thick abt 4" tall.
When Cornetto's came out they had no NUTS, then Drumsticks which HAD NUTS on top. Now they are both smaller with less ice-cream and both have blasted nuts on them! Ah! the Cream-Betweens, Eskimo-Pies, and Triples - with 3 flavours of marshmallow inside the vanilla ice-cream allth covered with chocolate.
Hey, what about the great LifeSavers? Grandma kept FLORAL Lifesavers in her bag to church, I liked the clear fruity 'normal' ones with five+ flavours in one roll, and the delicious Butterscotch Lifesavers, too. Sherbies - sometimes hard, sometimes soft but always super fizzy in the middle. The sticks of Redskins, the Banana Sticks half toffee & half banana, and the white Eucalyptus sticks for 1 cents each!

Peanuts were used much more in our lollies then because hardly anyone was allergic to our own home grown Kingaroy Peanuts.
ONLY since we began importing Nuts have I developed a really bad nut allergy!
Aussie nuts were wonderful, tasty, more-ish & caused me No Trouble!!
Whatever is sprayed on imported nuts to stop weevils & other spidery-bugs growing on the long journey in ship's cargo-holds is what I am allergic to.
Someone really does need to suss out what is used and stop it.
Why don't we grow and eat our own Peanuts, Cashews etc anymore?
WHY DON'T WE .....????? Aussies were good at nuts.
by fluffynut (score: 3|1012) 3307 days ago
The l950's without a doubt. They had individual flavours and were made from real food and flavourings. They were not made with corn syrup. They were so real you couldnt eat many as they would fill you up. Today, lollies are made from artificial foods and flavourings (many made in China) and are designed to encourage mum to buy 2 packets of her favourite sweets. One to eat while she is doing the shopping and one to take home. True. I was told this by the marketers of a big store's confectionery department. Besides EVERYBODY says they dont taste like they used do. So we search for sweets like they used be.
by valav (score: 0|6) 2227 days ago
1960's! Great lollies made here by us, minimal artificial ingredients, better tasting, bigger, and lasted much longer. Better variety, better flavour and no weirdo 'suspect' lollies from Peru, Brazil, China, SthAftica which contain who knows what!
by fluffynut (score: 3|1012) 2103 days ago
1950s and 1960s were by far the best for lollies - the variety, size, taste, and no imports from China and other places to put our own Aussie lolly makers out of business.
MacRobertson's Chocolate Nougat Bars, peanut brittle blocks, boxes of Black Cat, Rowntree, Black Magic chocolates, and proper Mint Crisp bars not the skinny flat expensive ones of today
by fluffynut (score: 3|1012) 631 days ago
OooooH - I had no idea I had responded to this question over a year ago and I've just read my comments from then! Nothing much has changed, though. Just the desire for good lollies is stronger than ever!!
by fluffynut (score: 3|1012) 2729 days ago
Absolutely the 1960's!
Donald Duck X29 big orange flavoured icypoles were fabulous!
Or lollies included Lypties, SOS, Musk Sticks that tasted of musk!! the Floral LifeSavers and Butterscotch LifeSavers to be sucked in church against coughing fits (best excuse ever!).
HONEY-BEARS that tasted of HONEY!!
Choo-Choo bars with thick soft coating before the hard inner core, White Knights that went 'all bendy' and lasted for hours, the aniseed CannonBalls that could chip teeth if impatient. Last week I was talking to a friend about the brown & yellow, banana/caramel sticks and RedSkin raspberry flavoured stick of milky toffee, that went bendy if stashed in yr pocket for too long. How about the Spearmint Leaves? Much smaller than the big fat gluey things now which had a burst of Spearmint that made yr eyes pop, and Mum decorated cakes with so well.
And Spearmint icypoles similar to a PaddlePop - but bigger and thicker.

An ice-cream scoop in a cone tasted wonderful - not like the synthetic lack-lustre ice-creams foisted on us now and full of preservatives. Oh the Cream Betweens and struggling not to drop the icecream slice before getting it between the 2 wafers.
The Triple Treat - choc coated with vanilla, strawberry and marshmallow layers inside - THAT was a brilliant ice-cream. The days when Choc Tops at the local flicks had icecream all the way down to the bottom - brilliant treats on Saturday arvos.

We did not have to suffer the inferior 'gummy' rubbish kids have now. Gummy stuff is lazy RUBBISH! The art of making lollies has gone - dunno where is went, but it has definitely gone!

Perhaps that is why so many more lollies are consumed today - people are still trying to achieve a decent taste and satisfaction that is no longer there.
Even Twisties are no longer the wonderful experience they were. Twisties lack cheese now and have little hard bits in them.

I do not trust lollies imported from SthAfrica, Peru, Yugoslavia, China, Chile, and other countries whose standards of cleanliness are nowhere near Australia's high standards.
Don't be fooled by English lollies either - there are just as rubbish as the other imports.
Who let our lovely Aussie lollies die? I know I did not help. I stayed faithful and supported our Confectionery industry.
Our Polly Waffles, Hoadley's Violet Crumbles, and the MacRobertson's Vanilla Nougat Bar which cost me 2 teeth after I put a bendy one in the fridge before chomping on it before tea on a hot Summer's day.
Black Magic, Rowntrees, MacRobertson's have deep, fond memories for so many. I can almost taste the Peppermint crisp coating melting in my mouth now.
Chocolate was Wonderful then - nothing remotely like the greasy, cold, oily & chemical stuff they pretend is chocloate now.

No wonder people talk about the GOOD OLD DAYS. Our lollies were MUCH BETTER and more rewarding than the imported lack-lustre, non-flavoursome, gelatine filled, crap flogged at the outrageously unreasonable, unnecessarily exorbitant prices demanded today.
Bring back our Aussie lollies and let the good times roll, again!

I just had an idea -
Ask your friends, parents and grandparents to write down their favourite childhood lollies.
Then, we could launch a campaign to have an Australian Confectionery company re-make the top five for us again.
by fluffynut (score: 3|1012) 2729 days ago
Love all that you wrote, relived my pre-teen years with every word.
by Knlg (score: 0|2) 2235 days ago
Love all that you wrote, relived my pre-teen years with every word.
by Knlg (score: 0|2) 2235 days ago
There are two iceceams that stick in my memory and that I think was strawberry choc biscuit coated one circ Adelaide 1963 or '64. The other was in a cylinder pop up with strawberry flavouring in Perth 1988 five or take a few years the two lollies were the willow mints and a caramel toffee with coloured toffee in the middle, had a nutty flavour.
by tobyb (score: 0|2) 2730 days ago
1940-50. Does anybody out there remember being given a pink sugar pig?

by mrsma (score: 0|2) 2501 days ago

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