Cameo Club report: October 2019


We were entertained by Nigel Coe, proprietor of ‘Sweet Treats’ of Horncastle, with his talk ‘The History of Sweets’ taking many of us back to our childhoods when we still had all our teeth!

Nigel explained how he went from a hobby market stall to looking for a premises as his trade developed to full time, then needing to move to a larger shop where he and his wife Judith are now, as she needed more space to make up her gift packs. They began with 150 sorts of sweets to now having over 500 kinds. Nigel started researching the history of sweets and their stories.          

He began with the Romans getting extracts from licorice root in their rations. They found Pontefract was a good place to grow licorice and it went from there. Apothecary George Dunhill made Pontefract cakes putting sugar in the recipe for the first time as before 1800’s it was in short supply.

Nigel recited a long list of types of sweet from Mega Sour Sweets, which some of us tried, Parma Violets, Love Hearts, Fizzers, Double Dip, Whistles, Refreshers, Aniseed Balls( used to have black rape seed in middle), Gob Stoppers (big ones take a week to make), Murray Mints ‘too good to hurry mints’ were on the very first commercial break , Barley Sugars( medicinal use first to help travel sickness), Sweet Cigarettes(now candy sticks), Chocolate cigarettes( only sweet tobacco and Chocolate Cigars now available), Jelly Babies (first cast as bears but changed name due to looking more like babies called ‘unclaimed babies’ and after WW1 called ‘peace babies’, Bassetts renamed them Jelly Babies after WW2 and gave them all names).

When cheap sugar became available in the 1800’s from West Indies, Nigel told us people became guilty about the slave trade and started to buy sugar from the East India Company which was more expensive but ‘slave free’. Sweet Peanuts used to have peanuts in but not now, Merrymaids are now Jameson’s Caramels, Anglo Bubbly bubble gum for blowing bubbles. In 1922 Black Jacks, Fruit Salad and Dark Chocolate Brazil Nuts were made. Then Fruit Sweets, Pineapple Cubes, Meltis Newberry Fruits, Foxes Glacier Mints whose polar bear was called Peppe. Kendal Mint Cake came about by accident when Romneys left a mix too long. It was made popular by Sir Edmund Hillary taking it up Everest! It had white, brown and chocolate colours. Flying Saucers were first made in Austria designed like communion wafers.

In 1914 Frys made Turkish Delight, then Cadburys took it over then Kraft moved the factory to Poland and used a different recipe. Victory V’s and Fisherman’s Friends very strong and the latter used to have opiates in them! Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls made in Wigan, Pear Drops which used to be half pink/half yellow, Rhubarb and Custard. Unfortunately, a lot of these sweets cannot be kept in glass jars as, if they are not bashed regularly, they all stick together so have to be stored in plastic containers! The firm Barretts owned by Tangerine in 2008 along with Jamesons. In 2013 changed logo to Candyland but did not work so changed back in 2018. Barretts make Sherbert Dips, Bonfire Toffee, Coconut Mushrooms and Bulls’ Eyes.

Many of these sweets were so familiar to many of us and are available in Nigel’s shop. Thanks was given to him after question time and those that wished to do so purchased sweets from him.

Forthcoming events:

Next month’s meeting on Nov 15th is the Christmas Jolly and members were reminded to pay for their meal and also for the Pantomime in February. No December meeting!

Julie Baker from our charity SANDS is coming on Tues January 21st for the cheque presentation and to collect the many blankets members and friends have knitted/crocheted for the memory boxes. I thanked them very much. I am also advertising what Cameo is all about in more publications as a big push to encourage new members to join us in the New Year.

Reporter Jill Russell

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