Reading Epicure in The Age this week, there was an article titled "Lollies We Love" (http://www.goodfood.com.au/good-food/food-news/lollies-we-love-20130128-2dfyj.html)
Someone had done their PhD on lollies! Australian lollies through the years to be precise. I'm not sure why (or how) they chose this topic and what area of study it relates to (maybe they'll be a Doctor of Lolliology), and what the qualifications of the assessor must have been (I want THAT job), but who cares! Lollies and Sweets and Candy O My!! So instead of a PhD, I present my DgB.
"Lollies are talisman of their era ... Many of our best memories revolve around lollies".
You bet your sweet bippy they do.
I have always been a Sweet Tooth. Always. Maybe its genetic, my parent's (Mum is a Cherry Ripe fan, Dad is partial to black jelly beans) courtship was apparently moved along nicely by a well timed packet of scorched almonds. I remember the Great Childhood Ritual of buying lollies at the Milk Bar; the agonising over how to get the best value for money. Do you buy five 1 cent lollies or one 5 cent lollie? This was when 20c would buy you a decent bag of mixed lollies (a 50c bag and you were set for a week!) and you still could buy Fags and chocolate cigars with the red ends. I remember the freaky but utterly cool sensation of crunching on Moon Rocks, of trying to make a tune with a Melody Pop and of long long car trips punctuated by the Tupperware container of Raspberries handed around the back seat. There was the excitement of getting the chocolate "stocking" at Christmas and wondering who was going to want the Mint Pattie or Coconut Rough, and the joy when Santa discovered the Cadbury Stocking. I honed my memory skills learning all of the Quality Street and Roses selections thanks to a yearly chocolate box gift from a family friend (and still no one can tell me what a Noisette Pate is).
In high school were the slumber parties where we dared each other to try Warheads (which were actually fine once you got through that outer layer), and I got through Year 12 Swot Vac with a packet a Darrel Lea soft eating licorice by my side. Dates at the movies with Hubby To Be involved sharing almost a whole bag of peanut MnM's during the previews. I had the phase where sucking on Chupa Chumps was "cool", and I could probably rustle up a few "holders" if I looked hard enough. Late afternoon slumps brought on by Physics lectures at Uni were often remedied by a Snickers Bar from the vending machine (until I realised they had the highest fat content of any chocolate bar and switched to a Time Out, or a Twirl; much healthier)
In my working life, I was fortunate (or not) to be within walking distance of a Haigh's chocolates store and those famous Frogs. If we were having one of Those days, there would be the pooling of gold coins for someone to do a "Haigh's Run" - the choice was up to the runner, but Speckles were always a good choice, as was their Nut Combination, Berry Chocs were the In things for a while but there was always the Frogs if you were feeling particularly flush with Cash.
So as you can see, lollies and I have had a long and delicious history.
And since we've just celebrated Australia Day, let give a shout-out to all those distinctly "Aussie Lollies" - Jaffas that were apparently awesome for rolling down the aisles at the movies (what a waste of good chocolate!), Minties who had the added enjoyment of the wrapper ripping contest to see who could get the longest ribbon, Violet Crumble (though I was always more a of a Crunchie Girl myself. And then that blissful spell when Crunchie Nuggets were out! The Perfect proportion of chocolate to honeycomb!!), Fruit Tingles and Life Savers (and seeing who could get it to the smallest circle without it breaking), Choo Choo Bars that you would always find half-eaten and smooshed to some furniture/clothing/car seat like tar, Redskins which always remind me of Mill Valley Ranch (but not the Spearmint! Sacrilege!), Turkish Delight which has been a sweet around the world for eons but it took an Aussie to put it in chocolate, Cherry Ripes which are apparently one of the only Australian delicacies that you can't get in Northern America (much to my Brother's chagrin), Peppermint Crisp which I have never seen eaten by anyone - just crunched on top of a chocolate ripple cake (Flake was also a good topping option, but the melted green always looked much more impressive), Fantales which were consumed once a year while watching the Oscars, Kit Kats which were pretty good all along, but then they became Chunky and reached a new level of yum (higher chocolate to wafer ratio! Am I the only person who want a mini Kit Kat Chunky?) and of course Mars bars - not only delicious but a great ingredient in the best "baking" options around; Mars Bar Slice.
But of course being brought up on a steady stream of American movies and TV shows, I always knew there was more Out There. Hersheys were the first exotic chocolate bar I tasted, and then fell in love with their Cookies and Cream. My girlfriend's travels to the US brought me Reece's and all their wonderful incarnations - peanut butter cups and Piece and more. I got over the weird flavour and sensation of Big Red gum to request it from anyone who was going to America, I loved Galaxy when I was in the UK and even tried Tiffin (chocolate with raisins and biscuits chunks) when a friend sent it over. And then Canada brought us Turtles with their oddly shaped pecans and caramel in chocolate.
So much chocolate, not nearly enough salad and exercise!
So what does a Sweet Tooth like me choose to crave now? Well, the peanut MnM's have stayed consistently in my lollie jar, even though they have a pretty high fat content (Almond MnMs just don't taste as good); my reasoning is that there is less chocolate in each one, so one or two won't hurt (especially if you have them with a handful of raw mixed nuts as I do somethings to assuage my guilt). If Hubby or I venture near a Haighs store, we know that Chocolate Macadamias are the go-to purchase (Turkish Delight for him, though he'd probably prefer a good French cheese. Weirdo). As for chocolate, I have adopted a slight snobbery in that Nothing Less Cadbury (sorry Red Tulip and Rowntree), with Lindor being the chocolate of choice. I try to have block and Lindor balls in hand, because some days you don't feel like the awesome yumminess that are Lindor balls. I prefer Milk, but do love the choice afforded by the box of Assorted - Dark when I'm feeling virtuous, Mint for a bit of difference and Hazelnut for trying to spin it that its healthier.
And what about the next generation? What will be the lollies that take my kids back to their childhood? This being the No Artificial Colours or Flavours No Sugar No Peanuts No Gluten No Additive generation; the one that ate the plate of fruit kebabs at Son 2's party but left the plate of chocolate crackles. I can't speak for all kids but mine are partial to Smarties or MnMs (because they are ones that Mummy can dole out one at a time guilt free). Kinder Surprise score well, but that may be more to do with the cool toys inside. And really, anything that comes in a party bag is greeted with a smile.
But the choice for my boys when they've eaten their dinner and a yogurt and thus qualify for a Special Treat? "Tim Tam please!"
Aussie Aussie Aussie.