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Archive for the ‘Sweets and Snacks’ Category

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Smiths Salt ‘n’ Shake Crisps

Posted by Big Boo on January 16th, 2012

Smiths Salt 'n' Shake CrispsSmith’s Salt ‘n’ Shake Crisps! Could there ever be a more British idea for a packet of crisps? The crisps that you salt yourself.

OK, at the end of the day all they were was regular old salted crisps, but there was something strangely compelling about opening a packet, rummaging around inside for the little blue sachet of salt, sprinkling said salt over the crisps, then holding the packet closed at the neck and furiously shaking it about in the hope that the salt might just reach the crisps at the bottom of the packet. It was just fun!

The brand was first launched in the 1920’s, making them one of the UK’s oldest types of crisps. They were apparently invented by Frank Smith and sold to pubs in the Cricklewood area of London. Prior to the invention of the “little blue bag of salt”, Smith had provided salt cellars for people to salt their crisps with, but the sachet came into existence simply because people were using too much salt and the cellars were emptied too quickly.

The little blue bag unsurprisingly became the identifier for these crisps, eventually being turned into a little character who appeared on the packets. Strangely he was square in shape, whilst the sachets were rectangular.

I have two very vivid memories of these crisps from my childhood. The first was the day we bought a packet of Salt ‘n’ Shake and found no less than six little blue bags of salt. I needed a drink after finishing that packet I can tell you.

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The Big Tin Of Christmas Chocolates

Posted by Big Boo on December 9th, 2011

Quality StreetHere 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.

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Blancmange

Posted by Big Boo on October 12th, 2011

BlancmangeThis entry is about the foodstuff, not the Eighties band, so apologies to fans of synthpop…

Can you remember the last time you ate Blancmange? I certainly can’t, and to be honest I can say I’m not really too sad about that either.

For me, Blancmange was one of those desserts that I secretly dreaded my Mother setting on the table at dinner time. I admit I ate it, because it was that or nothing, but I never would say I really enjoyed it.

Basically a mixture of milk, sugar and gelatin or corn starch to make it set, it had a bit of a bland taste in it’s natural state, but when made in it’s pink (presumably strawberry flavoured) or yellow (banana) varieties it really didn’t taste that much better. Even chocolate blancmange didn’t taste that great either, which coming from someone who enjoys most chocolate based desserts shows quite how little I liked it.

The closest I get to eating Blancmange now I suppose is in Trifle, which funnily enough is something I actually like a lot. Technically it’s a custard layer in Trifle, but it is sort of Blancemange-y, and is my least favourite part of the Trifle ensemble. The way I see it, that’s why you have the jelly and cream layers!

Of course, maybe Blancmange is still out there and doing alright for itself, but it’s now just taken on some fancier sounding names like Panna Cotta so you eat it without realising it…

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Flying Saucers

Posted by Big Boo on September 28th, 2011

Flying SaucersHere’s a type of sweet that I don’t remember eating in a long, long time, and I have to say that just thinking of them now makes me want to get a bag to bring back some old memories.

Flying Saucers were one of those sweets that were often to be found in your newsagents selection of Penny Sweets. Consisting of two pieces of coloured circular rice paper stuck together, with a little helping of sherbet sandwiched between them, they really were surprisingly tasty, assuming you ate them in the correct manner.

You see, the rice paper was a bit of a devilish idea. It was, to be honest, a bit bland tasting on it’s own. Attempting to suck a Flying Saucer was a mistake, because that rice paper would then get stuck to the roof of your mouth, and no amount of tongue wiggling could get it free.

No, Flying Saucers were definitely made to be bitten into, then the sherbet fell out against your tongue with a delightful fizzy taste, which then made eating the rice paper a much less onerous task.

These days it’s getting harder to find places that sell Penny Sweets singularly, so you really need to buy a whole bag of them (which is a nice excuse to be greedy I suppose), and online store A Quarter Of come to the rescue yet again with a nice big bag full of these fizzy treats.

Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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One Cal

Posted by Big Boo on September 19th, 2011

One Cal Soft DrinksOne Cal was a range of soft drinks that, as the name suggests, only contained a single calorie per serving. In fact, I think the range even pre-dated the diet pop that most people would first think of, Diet Coke.

As the picture shows, One Cal was available in a number of different flavours. It would appear the old classics were catered for, so there was a cola, a lemonade, an orangeade and a limeade variety. There’s another yellowy-orangey coloured flavour there too, which for some reason I think may have been apple, not your usual fizzy drink flavour back in the Eighties.

I don’t think I ever tried it personally, though I do have a memory of asking my Mum for a can of it and she refused saying I wouldn’t like it. Looks like Mum was definitely right in this instance as it apparently wasn’t that great tasting, leaving a bitter taste in the mouth, which doesn’t surprise me given that diet drinks have always tended to taste poor in relation to their sugar laden, tooth rotting, full fat brothers.

Picture credit has to go to The Lost Continent website, as it was the only place on the ‘net that I could find a picture to illustrate this post.

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After Eight Mints

Posted by Big Boo on August 22nd, 2011

After EightsWhen I was growing up After Eight mints were always considered a rather “posh” chocolate. They came in packaging which just made them feel a little luxurious, what with the dark green colour of the box, the overly fancy carriage clock motif picked out in gold, and the fact that each chocolate was individual wrapped in a dainty little paper pouch.

The TV advertising campaign reinforced this image too, as it usually involved a bunch of well-to-do looking people sat around an enormous dinner table passing a box of the chocolates round after having finished their main meal. It was the kind of dinner party that you imagine the characters in a game of Cluedo would have enjoyed before discovered Dr. Black had been murdered.

The chocolates themselves were pretty tasty too, which helped with their popularity. Consisting of a gooey mint flavoured fondant coated in a thin layer of plain chocolate, they were extremely tasty, and given how sugar laden the fondant probably was it was a good idea to make them so thin.

Despite the fact that they were easily available all year round, there were only two times of the year that our household ever consumed After Eight mints. One was at Christmas, when along with the annual big tin of Quality Street, the jelly Orange and Lemon slices and the bag of mixed nuts (sorry, you can keep those thanks) we would also give my Mum a packet of After Eight mints as a little stocking filler present.

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P-P-Pick Up A Penguin

Posted by Big Boo on July 13th, 2011

p-p-pick up a penguinAs chocolate biscuit bars go, you can always depend on the good old Penguin. It gets straight to the point and gives you exactly what you want – chocolate. Chocolate biscuit with chocolate cream filling, all coated in yet more milk chocolate, it might not be anything fancy, but it hits the spot.

The Penguin was first produced way back in 1932 by William McDonald, a biscuit company from Glasgow. In 1946 it became part of the McVitie’s line up when McDonald joined forces with several other biscuit companies to form United Biscuits (but not United biscuits, they came a long a little later 😉 )

Quite why they were named after the cold dwelling flightless bird I’m not sure, I don’t really see the link myself if there is one. However, the use of the Penguin was definitely a good idea, as most people tend to find penguins amusing, a fact which various TV adverts for the brand that we’ve had over the years took great advantage of.

The brands slogan of P-P-Pick Up A Penguin has also stood the test of time, and indeed is still used on the packaging now, though I can’t recall seeing a TV advert featuring it for quite some time.

Here’s a good example of the kind of advert we were treated to when I was a kid. It features a parcel of penguins (apparently that is the name for a group of them!) waddling around a fun fair and generally having a good time on the dodgems. It’s accompanied by a song sung by a very well-to-do sounding gentleman, which makes great use of the stuttering P to bring us the classic line “When you feel a little p-peckish, p-p-p-pick up a Penguin!

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Fry’s Cream Chocolate Bars

Posted by Big Boo on July 4th, 2011

Frys Peppermint CreamNow here’s a range of chocolate bars that I still think of as being luxury ones, but only because back when I was a kid they were aimed at adults and so always seemed somewhat more exclusive than other bars. They always seemed to be tucked away at the back of the newsagent sweet shelves, next to the Bournville and Old Jamaica chocolate bars, which were also not really deemed for kids.

The range consisted of a curved segmented bar of chocolate, with each segment containing a dollop of flavoured fondant within. The type of chocolate used varied between milk and plain varieties, whichever was deemed to go best with the flavour of fondant. However, it’s recommended that you don’t scoff them too quickly, as they can be a bit sickly.

The first variety was the Fry’s Chocolate Cream. Personally I was never that fond of this particular one, as the fondant centre didn’t have a great taste in my opinion. However, I’m obviously in the minority as it will probably surprise you to learn that this chocolate bar could have been enjoyed by a Child of the 1880’s, as it was originally launched in 1866!

Next there were the Peppermint Cream and Orange Cream varieties. These were both much nicer and whilst they can be a little difficult to track down both of these flavours, and the Chocolate Cream, are still available. The Chocolate and Peppermint versions are usually easiest to find (I’ve personally seen both recently) but I don’t remember the last time I saw the Orange variety in a shop. However, if you follow the links on the flavours you can find somewhere to buy them on the Interwebs…

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