Friday, 24 April 2015

Lollies in a White Paper Bag

There was a certain protocol involved in buying lollies at a corner shop. And if you didn’t see the shop-owner’s eyes roll back in their head at least once, you weren’t doing it properly.

It went a little bit like this:

“Ummm, I’ll have one of those, aaaaaaannndd one of those, no actually I’ll have one of those instead…..and one of those…” 

There is no way you could leave the decision up to the shop-owner. One time I did that, and ended up with a stack of stupid barley sugar sticks and fruit cocktails in my little white paper bag. Never again.

Our closest corner shops were about 5 or 6 blocks away, two of them in the same street. When I was really little we referred to one of them as ‘the Shirley shop’, then ‘the dopey shop’ and the other one was ‘the silver shop’. I’m not sure why. ‘The silver shop’ wasn’t silver. I think ‘the Shirley shop’ was owned by Shirley, who may then have sold it to some people we didn’t like as much as Shirley. That’s the only explanation I can think of.

At any rate, we didn’t buy that many lollies there when I was little. They were the shops we called into in the car, to get petrol or just pick something up. In high school sometimes we’d pop in there on the way to school on our bikes, but that’s about it.

My ‘10 cents worth of mixed lollies’ purchases, at least the ones I remember, were in Taree, when I stayed with my grandparents. They had a shop around the corner, and my grandmother would sometimes give me 5 cents or 10 cents, and let me walk around to the shop. We also bought lollies at the pool, standing up on a wooden platform in our wet swimming costumes, tapping on top of the glass lolly case to indicate our selections.

The decision-making process involved in the purchase of ‘mixed lollies’ was quite daunting. How do you choose between black cats, teeth, cobbers, clinkers, freckles, caramel buds, milk bottles, snakes, musk sticks, chicos, witchetty grubs, and jelly babies? And then there were larger items to factor in: you could opt for a Choo-Choo Bar, a Redskin, a Whizz Fizz, or a mini-pack of Juicy Fruit, but that meant foregoing some of the smaller items. Hmmmm. No wonder we drove those shopkeepers crazy.

There were also even larger purchases falling under a special category. Cough, cough. Remember Irish Moss, SOS Cough Drops, Throaties and Butter Menthol? Cough lollies my arse, the operative word being ‘lollies’!   

I’m always tempted when I see any kind of ‘Olde World Lolly Shop’. I don’t know why, but I keep hoping I’ll encounter one with a glass case containing loose lollies, and white paper bags ready to be filled to the brim with my favourites. But that never happens. Just jars of boiled lollies, and cellophane packages of over-priced no-name chocolates. I guess those days of mixed lollies are gone.

Do you have sweet sweet memories? (See what I did there?) What were your favourites?


  1. Well I'm so old I remember taking back empty lemonade bottles ( well they were probably more often the dry ginger and bitter lemon used as mixers) and being allowed to spend the refund on lollies. I quite liked those hard loco rice squares that came in a block of 4 and then you bend them apart, also partial to the odd milk bottle and clinker ( bonus points for green ones). But my childhood lolly memory is of Dad bringing home White Knights" and snowballs on Fridays after work.
    I love love love this post. Perfect.

    1. Thanks for the encouraging words, Wend.
      I am old enough to remember the refunds on soft drink bottles, and that will be mentioned in another context soon (Q). And come to think about it, I'm fairly sure some of my trips to the shop in Taree were actually funded by bottles.
      White knights and snowballs. Do you know, I don't remember snowballs from my childhood (I've just seen them in shops as an adult) but you are not the first person I've heard tell about their father bringing home snowballs for a Friday night treat.

  2. Choo Choo bars always! I loved heading into 'Mr Barrys' corner store on the esplanade at Wynum with my Nan

    1. Choo Choo Bars were a favourite of mine too. Actually any of the black aniseedy type things. Thanks for stopping by Jenni.

  3. Sugar coated almonds always and forever! But I would just suck the sugar off the almond and then spit it out. That stuff sends you silly after a bag full!

    1. I remember those. They were often given as a bonbonnierre gift at weddings back in the day. I would do the opposite and eat the almonds and throw away the candy. Different story if almonds are coated in chocolate though. Thanks Karin!