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Memories of Sherbet Dabs and Jamboree Bags

'Vintage' sweets
Photo by Tony Mould

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Still sold in ‘vintage’ shops

I remember the sweets we used to buy very well and sometimes see them in the ‘Vintage Sweet Shops’ that are around these days and it takes me right back. My favourites used to be ‘Lemon Sherberts’ or was it Sherbert Lemons; ‘Rhubarb & Custard’;  ‘Aniseed Balls’; ‘Sherbert Dabs’; ‘Red Licorice Laces’; ‘Black Jacks’ (4 for a penny)! and I never went home without a ‘Jamboree Bag’. From memory they used to cost 6d and were good value as you usually got sweets and a game.

6d for a ‘quarter’

Other sweets were ‘Winter Mixture’ which I never liked as it usually tasted of either cinnamon or cloves and if you kept it too long it would all stick to the paper bag! ‘Loose Sherbert’; ‘Palma Violets’; ‘Love Hearts’; ‘Sweet Cigarettes’; ‘Sweet Tobacco’ and ‘Kola Cubes’. There was always a vast array of ‘Humbugs’ and ‘Mint Imperials’. My parents used to like ‘Nut Brittle’ which was very hard to eat. The loose sweets were sold from large glass jars, and they used to mostly cost either 3d for 2oz or 6d for 4oz, commonly known as a ‘quarter’.

Too much Caramac made you sick

I used to like the bars of chocolate you could buy as well. A lot of them are still around today like ‘Mars’ or ‘Milky Way’ and ‘Bounty’, for a special treat I liked ‘Milk Tray’ but in the form of a bar of chocolate. It was the same content as you would get in the box of ‘Milk Tray’ but slightly smaller and a bit more expensive than a normal bar of chocolate. At Christmas I used to buy ‘Caramac’ so I could save the golden inner wrapper for making my own Christmas decorations. The actual sweet was very sickly if you ate too much in one go though. The one sweet that I really did not like was ‘Flying Saucers’; they were shaped like a flying saucer and made of rice paper with sherbert inside. I tried one when I was about 6 or 7 years old and I really didn’t like the plastic texture and nearly choked, so no more of those for me!

Share your memories?

Do you remember these sweets? Did you have any other favourites? Where did you buy your sweets? How much did they cost? Please share your memories with us by posting a comment below.

Comments about this page

  • I recall the flying saucer confectionery which I actually liked, Paul. Most of my early sweet purchases were from a shop called Chox’n Ciggs in Notting Hill near my junior/infants school. Seldom would we spend more than a old penny on each individual item, and usually arrived in a crowd, which annoyed the tiny lady assistant who rapidly became irritated and confused by our orders. I’m sure she was pleased when school dinner hour ended. I suppose sherbet was a favourite, together with liquorice, and gobstoppers–the latter lasting longest of all.

    By Stefan Bremner-Morris (06/06/2013)
  • My little sweetie shop at the top of Southover St I passed on my way to school at St Lukes had lucky dips for one penny. They were a piece of paper shaped into a cone and filled with odd sweets left at the bottom of the jar. The lucky dip bit was sometimes at the bottom, there was a threepenny bit as well. I won one once and promptly bought another three with my winnings.

    By Jackie Thomas/Parker Nee Jones (06/06/2013)
  • I remember Black Jacks and Fruit Salads being four for a penny! I was also partial to Milk Gums (sometimes in the shape of milk bottles) and Sweet Peanuts. What about Old English Spangles? Those were the days. No wonder I’ve got so many fillings!

    By Janet Beal (07/06/2013)
  • Ah Jamboree Bags – I remember them at 3d each – always slightly disappointing too. And Wagon Wheels, which were huge, back in the day. Sugar mice, pink shrimps, chocolate tools, Bazooka Joes etc .. Strange that sweets were so important to kids, and yet most of us didn’t grow up to be obese. Maybe we learned not to overindulge when we were young, and then didn’t over-compensate when older? Interestingly, there are on-line shops that sell a lot of the old favourites – I won’t advertise them, but try Googling “retro sweets” and see if you can avoid buying a £30 hamper of memories!

    By Marc Turner (07/06/2013)
  • I’m glad you mentioned Wagon Wheels, Marc. They were one of my favourites and, yes, they were much bigger back then! They probably have to make them smaller now otherwise they might out-price themselves. I used to find one in my school lunch box sometimes. Love hearts were another goody and a chockie Penguin was a regular munch -  also smaller than I recall back then. What about those mint Humbugs?? Mmmm, can still taste them now. And I also have given the dentist a good deal of work!!

    By Sandra Bohtlingk nee Baldwin (07/06/2013)
  • I lived in George Street, Brighton when I was a kid and half way down our street we had a little sweet shop that sold all the sweets you talked about. The shop was run by a Miss Scrase and when she weighed the sweets if they were over the weight she would break a piece off with a little toffee hammer. Sweets were on ration then so we didn’t have them very often. Miss Scrase also had other things in the shop like tea which was loose. I don’t remember there being tea bags then

    By Kathleen Catt [nee Cornford] (07/06/2013)
  • Hi Kathleen, you must be one of the few people around who remember my great-aunt Emily Scrace. As a child we would visit her shop at the week-end and my sister and I would be sent away with some sweets when we left. I think she died around 1965. She always wore a flannel type overall/smock and lace up boots. Ahhh memories!

    By Martin Scrace (08/06/2013)
  • Jackie, is the shop in Southover Street you refer to Chates by any chance? I was born in Southover Street and remember this shop.

    By Terry Anderson (08/06/2013)
  • It’s bringing back even more memories hearing about all those sweets from years ago. My early memories of buying sweets were from ‘Woolven’s’ on the Lewes Road, I was born in 1957. When we moved to Islingword Street in 1967 there were an abundance of sweet shops to choose from to spend my pocket money. As Sandra said I think it gave all the dentists at that time plenty of work, most of the children I knew used to go to Mr Bailey at 13 St Georges Place, does anyone else remember that surgery? it was painted light blue on the outside and on the ceiling of the actual surgery there was a big picture of an Australian beach that you could see while he was treating you. Anyway, I’m swaying away from the subject, as the 60’s progressed and I got a bit older my tastes started to change. It wasn’t proper at 13 to be seen in the school playground with a ‘Jamboree Bag’! Does anyone remember in 1970 a bar of chocolate called ‘Aztec’? I think it was brought out to coincide with the World Cup in Mexico, it was a cross between a ‘Mars bar’ and a ‘Milky Way’. I also remember being pestered one day at school for sweets by the boys sitting at the back (weren’t they always the one’s mucking about)!? So at lunchtime I bought some ‘Fishermans Friends’ or ‘Victory V’s’, I handed those round during the afternoon class and could hear the gasp’s from behind me as the heat hit them, great laugh!!

    By Paul Clarkson (10/06/2013)
  • I used to attend the Downs School and on the way home down Ditchling road there used to be, just past the Jolly Brewer pub, a very small tuck shop. I think the lady who ran it had converted her front room into this. She used to sell sweets and also penny drinks which she made for you on the spot out of lemonade powder. If I had any more than a penny, which was very rarely, I would buy two ounces of the powder and eat it with a wet finger. Penny Refreshers and Black Jacks were on the menu as well. Further down the road  (I lived in Princes Road) past the pub and Mr and Mrs Sheath’s store was another small sweet shop, just on the bend. This was run by an old lady. She always had a large display of sweets as they were all in jars at that time. She was very useful as she opened on a Sunday morning at a time when everything was shut on that day, including petrol stations. At that time I had a fascination with menthol and eucalyptus boiled sweets. Funny thing is I haven’t touched one since.

    By Tony Belcher (12/02/2014)
  • Does anyone remember sweet cigarettes? They came in a soft packet of ten and were just like the real thing except after puffing away pretending we were smoking like the grown ups, we could eat them! If only we knew!

    By Jan (13/02/2014)
  • Sweets were a big feature in my childhood. My father would bring home a bag of sweets for my brothers and I on Saturday morning. There was alway a Mars Bar (6d) Milky Way, Aero Bar etc to choose from. My favourite sweets from my childhood in the 60s were sweet prawns, Jamboree Bags,  although the toffees were so hard, hence the dentist surgery being next to the sweetshop! I often spent my bus fare of 3d on Black Jacks or Fruit Salad 4 for 1d or penny chews. I also loved pear drops, pineapple chunks, toffee bonbons, Dairy Maid chocolate caramels, Callard & Bowser butterscotch or liquorice toffees,  sweet cigarettes, sweet tobacco, Parma violets, Dolly Mixtures, Kunzle Cakes to name a few. It is a miracle I haven’t got false teeth with all of the sweets I ate!


    By Michele Mountstephen (16/08/2016)

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