There was a time when racing raindrops down a car window was a genuine source of entertainment for bored school kids on a Wednesday afternoon. It was a different time, a time when you’d count the hours – as in literally count the hours, in a room with a clock, just counting out loud – until TV screens would alight with top class entertainment from trusted showbiz friends like Fred Flintstone and Top Cat and Zippy and Bungle, or Jimmy Saville and his old mucker Rolf Harris, or Josef Fritzl and his pal The Yorkshire Ripper. Such a sunny innocent time, you could leave your front door open. Literally leave it wide open.
Some days you’d leave your car running with the keys still in it, and all of your most valuable belongings would just be laid out on the pavement for everyone to see. The dog would roam free. Anyway, the point of this trip down Memory Lane is that without an iPad to swipe our fingers across, the real high point of mind-boggling sensory-overload came from visiting sweet shops armed with 30p to spunk on cheap confectionery, and with that in mind I shall now list the ten must-haves…
Fizzy Cola Bottles
Hands down the greatest sweet of all time, fizzy cola bottles told you everything you needed to know about a person. Such as, they have a complete disregard for boring unfizzy things like normal cola bottles and that makes them a maverick and therefore very alluring to girls. In some countries you need a leather jacket or a flick knife comb before you can even think about buying these.
King of The Rocket Men, Flash Gordon, Battlestar Gallactica, Buck Rogers. All great conversation topics if you’ve got a first date with a sophisticated woman, but also the main reason why kids like me would sit cross-legged making bleeping noises and pretending these sweets were actually life-size UFO’s. Only full of cheap sherbert and basically made of paper.
These, along with candy cigarettes, long uneventful hours sitting in doctor’s waiting rooms, and a general sense of anxious doom about everything, were all pushed on us from an early age to ensure that we grew accustomed to what adult life expected from us.
Heston Blumenthal has made an entire career out of baffling people with food that looks like one thing but tastes of another. No offense, Hest, but these were doing that decades ago.
The perfect comedy accessory, you’d just pop these in like false teeth, do a little “WHY I OUGHTA!” or “SUITS YOU SIR!” or “ONLY MEEE!”, and watch your buddies laugh until they puked. Literally puked. Because you were being so funny.
Great for sharing, these could be seductively chomped with a girlfriend until your lips came together in the middle, a bit like that iconic scene from Lady and The Tramp, only really really competitive and much less romantic. Or you could just lock yourself in a cupboard and eat them alone.
White Chocolate Mice
You can find white chocolate everywhere these days, but there was a time when it was considered rich and exotic like an avocado pear or a shiny speedboat. Only a wealthy Arab Prince or a maniac with a steel constitution would add more than two of these to his bounty.
The most ladylike of the penny chews, these were a must-have if you were looking to charm some girls. In comedy terms, pretending these were your actual lips couldn’t even hold a candle to the puky reaction you’d get with the Milk Teeth, but a quick “HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR PRESIDENT” before popping these on might get you a couple of belly laughs from passers-by.
The rules stated that you had to have at least one “chew” in your bag, just to add a bit of longevity to your feast, otherwise you’d be blitzing through this stuff in nanoseconds. Unlike Black Jacks these didn’t leave your mouth looking like you’d gone insane and eaten a biro.
Jelly Foam Mushrooms
These guys only just made it, having beaten off stiff competition from shrimps, strawberry laces, lemon sherberts, sherbert lemons, lemons with sherbert, sherbert beneath a layer of boiled lemon, kola kubes, milk bottles, and love hearts. It was a close call.
Now tell me where I went wrong…