Here is a great British Christmas tradition that is still very much alive today – the big tin of chocolates! Indeed, these days we even have rather more of a choice available to us in this area than we did back in the Eighties with relative newcomers Celebrations and Miniature Heroes.
The two big players in the Christmas sweet market in the Eighties, who are both still very popular today, were Quality Street and Roses. Our household were very much in the Quality Street camp.
We were never allowed to open the tin of Quality Street until Christmas Eve, which I think went some way towards making the whole experience of them that much sweeter (no pun intended).
On Christmas Eve my Mum would open up the tin, and put a few large handfuls out into a serving tray, which then sat on the sideboard (and topped up when necessary) along with the other Christmas staples of Orange and Lemon jelly slices, nuts and a box of Eat Me dates (which were only ever eaten by my Dad several weeks after Christmas).
My personal favourite was and still is the Green Triangle, although I’m also quite partial to the Strawberry and Orange creams. I also liked the Gooseberry cream which looked identical to the Orange cream but was in a green wrapper. They did bring this sweet back for a special edition version a couple of years back, and I had to confess that until this happened I was convinced the green fruit cream flavour had been lime, but obviously not.
The only problem with Quality Street was the sheer number of toffee sweets included, and indeed I feel this is still a flaw of the selection now. When the tin was nearing the end there was always a huge number of Golden Pennies, the Caramel Finger (the thin yellow one) and a little hard square lump of toffee which thankfully has now been dropped.
My Auntie on the other hand always plumped for the Cadbury’s Roses, so when we went to visit her at Christmas time we always looked forward to sampling some of her sweets as well. The Roses selection never seemed as interesting to me for some reason, although I really don’t understand why now I look back on it, since for the most part the two brands have got equivalent sweets in them.
Today I still enjoy having a tin of Quality Street in the house at Christmas, although we’ll sometimes plump for Celebrations instead. Roses are banned from the house now though, after I mistakenly ate a Brazil Nut Toffee one year and got rushed off in an ambulance one Christmas after suffering an Anaphylactic shock. I suppose I should be thanking them though, since they did confirm that I had a nut allergy, which was something I had suspected for a while but didn’t know for sure until that day.