No memory is a sweet as those created through enjoying sweets. That is one of the simple facts of childhood, supported by the tantalising wealth of blogs, articles and even online suppliers, such as Ashby Treats, dedicated to bringing us our favourite sweets. Even as adults, we all have a favourite, and memories of first discovering that favourite sweet. Far fewer of us know the history of the sweets themselves though. Hence, below are the histories behind some of the UK’s favourite sweets.
First marketed by the sweet company Bassett’s, Jelly Babies were first marketed under the name ‘Peace Babies’, back in 1918. The sweet was developed and derived its name ‘peace baby’ to commemorate the end of WWI and was not renamed until the 1950s, when the significance of their ‘birth name’ had lost much of its flavour.
During the 1960s the band The Beatles often found themselves being pelted with a barrage of jelly babies, as reported by the Daily Mail website, after George Harrison confessed to Jelly Babies being his favourite. The jelly baby hail stopped after Harrison was hit in the eye by one of the sweets, and consequently wrote Beatles’ fans an open letter, pleading with them to stop throwing candy at him.
Love Hearts have been around for over sixty years. Swizzel Matlow, the company that developed Love Hearts, did so as a novelty gimmick Christmas cracker filler during the 1950’s, never knowing just how popular the sweet would prove, or that half a century later its then factory workers would be presenting Princess Diana with a one-off packet of especially personalised Love Hearts during a visit she made to the Swizzel Matlow factory in Derbyshire.
To this day, Princess Diana is the only person to have ever had Love Hearts made specifically for her. Of the personal sentiments stamped onto the candies, ‘Prince Harry’ and ‘Prince William’ both received sweets bearing their names.
Made famous in Roald Dahl’s novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which featured the world’s first everlasting gobstopper, the gob stopper is traditionally made to be 1 to 3 centimetres in diameter with each hard layer featuring its own unique layer and colour.
Giant versions have over the years been made and sold as novelty items, celebrating and making a further joke of the long lasting quality of gob stoppers that made them popular during the interwar years when money was scarce for many families and rations on food and confectionary such as chocolate meant thousands of british children enjoyed sweets as an exceptionally rare treat, if ever.
Sometimes referred as ‘jawbreakers’, the world’s largest gob stopped recorded by The Guinness World Records was made by a man called Nick Calderaro and measured a mouth watering 94.6cm in diameter, weighed over 12kg and took 476 hours to make.
The Drumstick Lolly
According to ‘sweetlore’, the Drumstick Lolly was said to have been created by accident. Trevor Matlow, the son of one of Swizzel Matlow’s founders, is said to have created the Drumstick lolly whilst experimenting with a new sweet making machine which resulted in the birth of a lollypop that combined two separate flavours. The original flavours used and which remain the most common combination is that of strawberry and milk, though over the years combinations including cherry and apple and strawberry and banana have been made.
To learn more about the history of the Swizzel Matlow company and its creations, the Telegraph Newspaper Website currently features an article titled, ‘Dream Factory: The Story of a Sweet Company’ which tells all in delicious detail.
Rock is perhaps better known by any one of its three names, all of which derive from the regions which claim to have created it. Namely, those regions are that of Brighton, Blackpool and Morecambe. Despite the fact nobody has yet been able to prove conclusively which British seaside town first began making and stamping rock, rock at least can lay claim to being a typically British seaside sweet.
Rock of the sweet variety dates back all the way to the 1800s when the ‘pulled sugar’ technique was first established in sweet making. These days there is no end to the colours, messages or flavours rock has had, from the traditional red and white striped peppermint to Cappuccino and even ‘Ganga’ flavour.