Sweetening The Season

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Virgil Evetts

It’s that time of the year once again when I’m forced to put aside my loathing of shopping and head to the nearest branch of Sodom or Gomorrah – aka a mall. I feel almost soiled after tramping around a mall for any length of time. All that money being spent on so much tawdry shallowness… it’s just so vulgar.  (So said the man who thinks of little more than, and blithely spends a fortune on, food.)


I must be an absolute horror of a shopping companion sometimes – I don’t handle crowds very well, what with my tendency towards impatience and gross intolerance of people who aren’t me.  I usually tread the terrazzo muttering (often louder than is altogether wise) about how vey stupid and ugly my fellow shoppers look.


But I have discovered that there is one thing that makes the whole sordid affair of mall-trawling tolerable, if not quite worthwhile.  The sweets shop.  Every mall in that best-left-unnamed-uber-chain has one of these free-floating rafts of happiness, selling forgettable chocolates but an excellent range of iconic kiwi sweets, of the sort that every dairy sold when I was a kid: Glow-hearts; mint leaves; milk bottles; false teeth; nameless red-and-black, flattened-ovoid gummy-things.  I have never outgrown my love of sweets – if anything it’s got stronger over time because as an adult there is nothing but a thin veneer of self control between me and wholesale gluttony.


For some reason, perhaps it’s nostalgia, I don’t apply my usual disdain for over-coloured and artificially flavoured gunk food, when it comes to these kinds of sweets.  Such is my weakness that if I have them in the pantry I’ll spend the whole day salivating with anticipation.


When I think about it, I’m not even sure what some of the sweets taste of.  Mint leaves and milk bottles are pretty obvious (although milk bottles used to have more of a yellowy hue and obviously milky flavour), but what flavour are glow hearts – aniseed? I don’t know.  I think false teeth might be mint flavoured, but I’m not quite sure because the colours throw off my perception.  Strangely, in Australia false teeth are given a strong strawberry flavour.  I think those red and black things are supposed to be raspberry and blackcurrant flavoured, the latter being the most realistic of the lot.


The only other sweets I can’t be trusted around are those blackcurrant and lemon pastilles found in the cough lozenge isle of some pharmacies.  These are always sold in plain-label bags, are relatively expensive, but taste fantastically authentic.  They’re quite possibly New Zealand’s best-kept confectionary secret.  As far as I can tell they have absolutely no medicinal properties whatsoever, so their appropriateness alongside ‘real’ lozenges is somewhat dubious, but I just adore them.


I can’t be  the only out-and proud confectionary addict around these parts, so I challenge you: name your poison.

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6 thoughts on “Sweetening The Season

  1. Sour fejoas! Thank you Maycees Confectionery… oh and those lovely sugar coated soft fruit jubes in the summer $1 mixed lolly bags at the Oakura Bay Store up in Northland during the holidays. Yummy.

  2. Lollies, my down fall.

    I have so many favourites yet I dont have a favourite.
    I am disapointed that no one makes a decent hard lolly any more thats not “boiled” or will dissolve in moments of enjoying.
    Jaffas and pineapple lumps are up there on my list, except these are more chocolate based than lolly.
    I do love mint leaves, milk bottles, anissed balls/wheels.
    Sherbet is fun.
    Toffee milks are divine as well as K bars.. Good ol Whittakers.. they do rock…

    But nothing beats a $1 mixture from the corner dairy…

  3. Rowntrees Fruit Gums. They are so hard but with a beautiful fruity flavour, you can stick them to the roof of your mouth and suck them till they are a very thin transparent window. How do I know this? I used to do it as a child and haven’t had any since I left the UK back in ’67. I know, I know, I can get them from the British Shop or whatever it’s called, but they just wouldn’t taste the same as when I was a kid and I don’t want to spoil the memory.

  4. Jetplanes!! I can devour a whole bag to myself and I actually don’t buy them often as it’s a case of now you see them, now you don’t. I have fond memories of Licorice Bricks – haven’t seen them for years, so I console myself with the usual licorice now.

    In the words of Oliver (the Musical from the 70s):

    Sweets, glorious sweets,
    all jelly and custard ….

  5. I do like the odd Macintoshes toffee (except Malt and Coconut). And Milk Bottles. My other half prefers fruit jubes. A very nice treat on occasions!