Sweet rationing’s bitter taste

A sweetg shop on South Tyneside. Do you know where?
A sweetg shop on South Tyneside. Do you know where?

A recent article about the end of sweet rationing, some 66 years ago, reminded reader Terence Grewock of some of his favourite treats – and a not-so favourite friend.

Thinking back to the days after sweet and chocolate rationing was introduced in Great Britain in July 1942, Terence recalls the time he and his mate went to the movies, but it wasn’t the film that sticks in his mind, as he explains.

A typical sweet shop from the 1960s.

A typical sweet shop from the 1960s.

“I had a friend in those days of sweet rationing,” said Terence, whose family owned a sweet shop in Laygate.

“Once we went to the pictures together and he produced a whole bar of chocolate. I gasped at such a rare sight! But he subsequently gave me just a single square during movie ... and ate the rest himself! I think our friendship waned after that!”

Terence had no better lucky getting his hands on some chewing gum.

“During the Second World War Wrigley’s Spearmint Chewing Gum was unavailable in the UK, but we believed, as kids, that if you came across a Yank, all you had to do was utter the immortal phrase, ‘Got any gum, chum?’ and you would given a strip!

Sweet images.

Sweet images.

“Unfortunately, none of us ever came across any Americans in South Shields!”

On a practical note, when it came to sweets, Terrence, like many a schoolboy and girl of his day, would go for the ones that went the furthest.

“I liked the sweets that lasted a long time! Minty flavoured if possible, such as Mint Imperials, Spearmint Chews, and my favourite, Nuttall’s Mintoes which were long lasting and had a nice chewy centre!

“Black Bullets were also very popular in my childhood. They were a Geordie speciality, I believe, and originally made in Jesmond and called Jesmona Black Bullets, but that was a bit too fancy for us.

“My mam would often tell me to go to the corner shop and just ask for a ‘quarter of Black Bullets’!”

Another memory involved his mam’s home-made cinder toffee.

“I can still clearly remember breaking-up the toffee into assorted shapes and sizes. Delicious!”

Along with his memories, Terence sent me a couple of illustrations for Welch’s toffee products.

“Apparently, the factory was owned by the grandfather of actress Denise Welch,” said Terence.