In the 1970s there were so many sweets to choose from. I still remember them with a feeling of fond nostalgia. Sadly, a lot of them are no longer available. But here are my top 20 candies from the 1970s.
In the town where I lived as a child, there were several sweet shops. Next to toy shops, these were almost magical places in the eyes of a young girl. My mum would take me and my brother over to the counter, where the various sweets were arranged invitingly under glass, and she would allow us to choose some sweets to eat while she did the shopping.
Looking back, it was probably to keep us from fighting, but this ploy had limited success.
Another shop we used to go to had glass jars of sweets lined up in rows on a high shelf. The names still make me smile; Tom Thumb drops, milk bottles, parma violets, cough candy, aniseed balls, barley sugar, butterscotch. They were weighed out on old-fashioned scales, by the quarter-pound, and tipped into a white paper bag.
The first taste of barley sugar was indescribably good. I avoided cough candy because I was worried that it might give me a cough and I would have to take some yukky-tasting cough medicine. (I had an over-active imagination.)
If we ever did have to take medicine, mum would have a sweet unwrapped and at the ready; as soon as the medicine had gone down, she would pop a sweet into our mouths to take away the horrid taste of whatever we’d had to swallow. Bless you, mum.
So, as promised, here is a list of my top 20 candies from the 1970s. Maybe you have good memories of these too?
These were soft and pillowy, white and pink in colour and very sweet. But I loved them. I used to chew them carefully, to see if I could tell the difference between the pink ones and the white ones. But of course, they tasted the same.
These were boiled sweets coated in sugar, which tasted like a cross between pears and almonds. They were half pink and half yellow and once you popped one into your mouth, it would last ages. They were very hard, so I never attempted to crunch them. I was scared of the dentist in those days.
One of my all-time favourites, the taste was almost lemony. They were amber in colour and came in clear plastic wrappers. I suppose this stopped them from all sticking together. Barley sugar got its name from how it was made. Sugar was boiled in water that had been used for boiling barley, hence the name. It was first used as a soothing lozenge to ease a sore throat.
These were the sort of sweets you would share with your best friend; little heart-shaped sweets with messages like ‘you’re mine’, ‘be my sweetheart’, and so on. I always dreamed of being able to give one with the words ‘marry me’ on it to a boy called Stephen, who lived on my street and who I had a huge crush on. It never happened, sadly.
I avoided these for years, thinking that they were made from wine! I was once offered one from a bag and politely declined as I was too young for alcohol. But of course, they didn’t contain any wine, they were chewy fruit-flavoured jellies. Blackcurrant was my favourite flavour.
Wine gums were actually made with wine when they were first invented – fermented wine was used. But then they changed the manufacturing process and wine was no longer included.
These sweets fascinated me; they were wrapped in gold foil and shaped like the gold bullion bars that I saw on the TV when someone was robbing a bank and breaking into the vault – usually with dynamite. The taste of rich caramel and butter is one I still enjoy today. Butterscotch sauce over ice cream is heavenly!
A family favourite, these were like little sandwiches made from layers of fondant and liquorice. Others were round with a tube of liquorice running through the centre. (I called them cushions.) The only ones I didn’t like were the liquorice jellies, studded with tiny sugar balls. My brother always called them ‘cow pats’ and that put me off eating them. Typical little brother!
Tom Thumb Drops
These were tiny little drops of fruit-flavoured boiled sweet, dusted with icing sugar. You could eat a whole handful at once, they were so small. I used to buy them by the quarter-pound and would have eaten most of them by the time I got home. They were incredibly moreish.
The name likely comes from the story of Tom Thumb, a boy only the size of his father’s thumb who had many adventures, including being swallowed by a cow.
I remember these as being more of a grown-up sweet. They had quite a strong minty flavour and a soft, chewy centre. I liked the stripes on the outside, which were 2 different colours. But I preferred fruity sweets to mint-flavoured ones.
The origins of the name humbug are not clear; some people think they were named after the character Ebeneezer Scrooge, whose favourite saying was ‘Bah, humbug!’ but others think that the name originated in the north of England, where humbug was the name for toffee flavoured with mint.
These fruity sweets were almost like a solid sherbert, and they kind of fizzed on the tongue when you ate them. They came in a tube and I loved the ads, which featured a boy pushing his grandmother around in a wheelchair. But the boy was getting tired, so granny produced a packet of refreshers from her handbag and gave one to the boy, saying ‘Here you are kid, try this.’
Once he’d eaten it, he perked up, and granny’s wheelchair was suddenly being pushed at roughly 60 mph, with granny shouting ‘It’s the fizz that gives you whizz!’ A phrase I still love to this day.
These were individually-wrapped boiled sweets, in different flavours like lime, blackcurrant, and lemon. There were also old-fashioned ones, which had a kind of creamy taste. I liked these better than the fruity ones.
Spangles were made from the 1950s up until the 1980s. Their selling point was a depression on either side, which was there for your fingers to hold the sweet firmly before you ate it. They were known as finger-friendly sweets.
Bought in either a foil-lined paper tube or loose from a jar in the sweet shop, these were chewy, fruit-flavoured jellies, coated in crunchy granulated sugar. (Honestly, I’m surprised that kids in the 70s still had all their teeth.)
The flavours I remember were lemon, orange, blackcurrant, raspberry, and lime. I didn’t like the lime ones so I would give them to my friend Sylvia. Until she rebelled and asked for the blackcurrant ones instead; I refused because they were my favourites. So Sylvia, who was bigger than me, snatched them off of me and ate the whole lot. I cried.
Fox’s Glacier Mints
These were oblong-shaped and completely transparent, like miniature blocks of ice. The mint flavour was quite strong – it was made using pure mint oil – but I was fascinated by the way you could hold one up to the light and see straight through it. I loved the ads too, where a polar bear would be standing on top of the mint and a fox would be looking up and talking to the polar bear. Clever advertising!
Glacier mints were first made in 1918. Glacier fruits followed but didn’t sell as well as the mints.
I can’t remember the actual name for these but I always called them flying saucers – they were round and filled with powdered sherbet. The casing was some sort of edible rice paper or wafer, which melted on the tongue. They came in different pastel colours and the sherbert filling had a lemony flavour.
These were delicious, they really tasted like pineapple! Coated in sugar, the cube itself was a boiled sweet with a very refreshing taste. I loved to crunch them but got told off by my mum who said the noise set her teeth on edge. I never understood that, my mum had dentures.
These soft jelly sweets coated in icing sugar were a favourite of my dad’s. We all liked them, actually. My brother used to bite the heads off, making me cringe. Barbaric, I called it! I liked all of the fruit flavours, but the red ones were the best. They were somewhere between strawberry and raspberry flavour.
Jelly babies date back to 1864. They were made by an Austrian named Herr Steinbeck, working in Lancashire. He was said to have based the design on gingerbread men, and he called them ‘unclaimed babies.’
First made in 1925, these were very popular in the 70s. I used to love these; a paper tube of sherbet with a hollow straw in the top made from liquorice. The idea was that you sucked up the sherbert through the ‘straw’ and got the taste of both liquorice and sherbert. But once I accidentally sucked too hard, and I had such a bad coughing fit that it put me off them altogether.
These can still be found but the name was changed to Starburst in 1998, for reasons that are still the subject of speculation. They were first made in the 1960s and were chewy fruit-flavoured sweets in orange, lemon, lime and strawberry flavours. They gave an intense burst of fruity flavour on your tongue, so maybe that’s why the name was changed.
Their slogan was ‘Made to make your mouth water’ – and they did.
This sweet was an obvious gimmick; thin white sticks with a red tip, meant to look like a lit cigarette. Only in the 1970s could this have been openly marketed to children! My friends and I would lick the end to make it redder and pretend that we were smoking. The effect was improved if we were outside on a cold day, then the cloud of vapour coming from our mouths looked like cigarette smoke.
My parents both smoked, I used to think that my mum looked very elegant with a cigarette in her hand. I suppose I must’ve wanted to be like her. Fortunately, I never took up the habit for real.
Sweet cigarettes were banned in 2009, critics said that they encouraged children to take up smoking the real thing.
These fruity sweets were like little square pillows, with a crunchy, fruit-flavoured outer shell and a chewy centre. I loved the pink ones and the yellow ones. I used to cut a tiny corner off the bag and squeeze a sweet out of the gap. This way, I always got a surprise as to which flavour came out. And you had to eat more than one, they were very moreish.
They also brought out tooty minties later on, my mum loved them. Palest green or pure white, we used to pop one in our mouths to chew on the way to school and make it last as long as possible.
So, that’s my top 20 candies from the 1970s. maybe you remember some or all of these. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
Did you have a favourite chocolate bar from this decade? Go back in time with candy bars from the 1970s.
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