Sweets are no guilty secret for me, more of a full on obsession that has somehow managed to infiltrate every aspect of my life. There's nothing like delving into a little 100g bag of goodies in front of the TV, and yes, I am a big fan of the proper, old-fashioned sweetshops that sell by weight. I’m talking glass jars, wooden shelves and Willy Wonka out the back .
Whilst not wishing to assert myself as a connoisseur, I have trulled through my mental catalogue of all things sweet to come up with a list that includes not just my favourites, but ones that I think all sweet-toothed individuals should try. Needless to say, this is a passion I take very seriously.
Foam rhubarb and custards
A kids’ sweet really but totally irresistible. Not to be confused with the boring hard-boiled variety but just as traditional. Have to say, Haribo do them best and you do get a lot for your money if you’re doing it the good old fashioned way and buying by weight (if you’re going to be super vintage ask for a quarter).
Never heard of them? Don’t worry; I often get a quizzical look. Multiple spellings and endless confusion of where to put the apostrophe, if at all, but taste-wise they're brilliantly simple. It tends to be old ladies who ask for these but a clear favourite for me. Notoriously bad for getting stuck in your teeth but this combination of toffee and coconut is total perfection. Great thing about these is you’re left with a whole load of sugary remains at the end, provoking the sort of childish pleasure reminiscent of drinking the chocolate milk after a bowl of coco pops.
Fizzy bubble bottles
People rarely know their proper name and they often just get called ‘pink and blue bottles’ or, more often than not, just get pointed at, but an incredibly popular choice an obvious favourite for me. My advice to sweetshop owners: honour this one with front row position and save yourself any ‘I don’t know what they’re called, they’re blue and pink and fizzys'. These are great if you like a sweet and sour combination. Not the jumbo, stupidly chewy ones you get in extortionate cinema pick n mix though. These little ones are far nicer and just seem to be that bit sweeter – more sugar to surface area ratio perhaps! Bubblegum flavour as the name suggests, but mostly just very sour.
Chocolate orange nibbles
Bit of a curveball as technically a chocolate treat but a clear winner for me. Highly, highly addictive though - you have been warned. I used to be an addict of just plain old nibbles but my horizons have recently been broadened courtesy of my shop supervisor and I’ve never looked back. I’d say steer clear of the mint version though – very crumbly and nowhere near as nice.
And finally a classic…
Clotted cream/toffee bonbons
There are so many bonbon flavours now, from sour raspberry to vimto, from chocolate to rhubarb, but for me, you just can’t beat the classics. A little trick I’ve learnt in the industry – keep them in your pocket to make them soft and reduce the chance of losing a filling.