Yesterday I visited a lovely, old-fashioned sweet shop. It was delightful, bringing back memories of childhood with the glimpse of a wrapper, a colour, a pattern and a smell.
There were chocolates flavoured with violet and rose with old-fashioned swirly writing that looked perfect for the Victorian lady. Lemon sherbets, pear drops, sugared almonds, rhubarb and custard candy (I prefer this in gin form now), aniseed twists and chocolate caramels.
It seems to instantly transport you back in time. Images of walking through meadows, the sun shining and a big floppy, straw hat as you innocently pop sweet after sweet into your mouth. I don't think I ever actually did that. It might actually be a memory from a late 70's love song video - at that stage I was probably stuffing the entire contents of a 10p mix-up, shaped banana and shrimp candy, cola bottles and pink mice into my mouth in exceedingly quick succession.
Husband made his selection - a Dib Dab and some popping candy, and I managed to add a couple of fruit salad chews and some coconut mushrooms into Little G's pick 'n' mix. Obviously I was advising her of standard health warnings at the same time - this was a 'special treat' but too much sugar rots teeth and makes her act crazy. Still, I managed to sneak a couple more chocolate nut caramels in the candy pink, stripy bag.
Then, it happened. I spotted something so heinous, it dragged me right out of my vintage haze and sent me hurtling back to 2019 like I was sitting up front in the De Lorean.
It was the distinct, triangular, blue packaging, the memory of eating the walnut off the top first, that delightful chocolate and nut mix, and getting to scoop out the light and foamy, synthetic cream. Nibbling round the chocolate shell, finally revealing the satisfyingly chunky chocolate bottom. The memory was delightful (the M & S version was nice but in a different way) ... but it was the price ... 93p!
The number screamed in my head. The last time I looked a Walnut Whip was no more than 13p. I absolutely swear on my Brownie honour. In that moment, it felt like the whole place was coming in at me ... Polos are 10p. Aren't they? Monster Munch - the really big packets you used to get, with at least 8 massive claws you could barely get in your mouth, are 12p - like all crisps. Aren't they? I mean, I know Creme Eggs are much, much, much smaller than they used to be but this was something else.
In a flash, we'd paid and were outside the shop, looking back in the window. Little G handed me a sweet and I absentmindedly put it in my mouth. My cheeks were instantly sucked in, goldfish style, as the innocent looking sugared watermelon slice soured my mouth.
It was quite an experience, that trip to the sweet shop. But then, it always was. I could dwell on the time that has passed since the delights of my childhood candy consumption but I choose not to. The upside to it all - I can drink gin that tastes like rhubarb and custard, and it's legal. A coconut mushroom and a chocolate caramel later and all was alright with the world.