“Just the one,” said Mrs R, and she kept her word. It’s not always this way. When it comes to chocolates it’s more like one, then another, then…
But these are Liquorice Allsorts, made in Pontefract, the historic home of this delight. I bought them for the Christmas stocking, mostly for myself, I suspect.
My £1 bag from Boyes weighs in at 400g, almost a pound in old money and well worth it for a variety of liquorice and coconut sweets with round jelly buttons. I was a bit surprised to find them on the shelves of the Skipton store. Too old-fashioned for today’s shoppers, I imagined. Thankfully I was wrong.
Of course the whole point about these sweets is the pleasure of dividing the layers of coloured bits to get at the liquorice inside. A childish pleasure. This trip down the memory lane brings up a conversation about sweets – which we called “spice” – of the forties and fifties.
Apart from Pontefract cakes and liquorice toffee, we had Yorkshire mixtures, pear drops, midget gems, dolly mixtures, aniseed balls and wine gums.
My mother’s favourites were coconut mushrooms, which I used to pinch from the pantry under the stairs on my way to bed. Sugared almonds were the choice of my mother-in-law, Win. Kids’ sweets sometimes echoed the behaviour of adults. Mrs R remembers sweet cigarettes that mimicked the real thing, and liquorice pipes with fake embers like grandfather’s.
And red liquorice torpedoes, that girls used as make-believe lipstick, smothering their mouths with dye.
But do today’s kids chew root liquorice? You can still buy it, even in capsules, which to my mind spoils the whole experience of chomping a woody stick threadbare.