What sweets could you buy for a penny?

If you remember “old money”, you’ll remember penny chews. Can you remember what else you could buy at the sweet shop for a penny?

Black Jacks or Fruit Salads?

According to the Spring Chicken Community, Black Jacks and Fruit Salads were popular choices, but which was the top choice? Well, most Facebook followers were happy to chew on either, not least because you got 4 of each for 1d, but it seems that Black Jacks might just steal the top spot for one very important reason… they turned your tongue black!

“Used to suck them and see how black I could get my tongue… We used to put them over our teeth so that it looked like we didn’t have any.” 

Black tongues and grey teeth added to the attraction of the aniseed flavoured sweets, but there was a downside:

“Loved Black Jacks, but they turned your tongue, teeth and lips black, so you couldn’t tell your mum you’d only eaten an apple!”

Pennies from Heaven

We used to call them farthing chews because you got 4 for a penny.

The choice of heavenly delights that could be had for an old penny extended far beyond Black Jacks and Fruit Salads. Feast your eyes on this list, and see which ones you remember picking out in the sweet shop:

  • Aniseed Balls – you could get 8 of these for a penny
  • Sports Mixtures – 5 of these for a penny
  • Lemon Quenchers – 4 of these for a penny
  • Penny Arrow Bar – toffee, spearmint or liquorice
  • Or a McCowan’s toffee (also known as a Penny Dainty) in its distinctive green and white wrapper – these were so big they didn’t really fit in your mouth!

On top of pocket money, an extra penny or two could be earned by returning bottles to the corner shop, or running errands for neighbours:

We got money by taking the Tizer bottles back for people in the street. They would give us a penny for our trouble.

But, according to one former shopkeeper, some children adopted a slightly more enterprising approach:

We found some kids climbing over the wall at the back of the shop, taking the empty bottles, and then bringing them into the shop to get the money from them. We roofed over the backyard after that. Can’t blame the kids for trying!”

Jamboree Bags… and More!

For those with more than a penny to spend, 2d could buy you a Jamboree Bag, later known as a Lucky Bag. These contained a selection of sweets and a toy, what more could you ask for?

Others preferred to fill a bag with their own selection:

3d got you 8 Black Jacks, 8 Sports Mixtures, and 8 Strawberries or Cinnamon Tatties.

A thrupenny bit could also buy you a quarter of Midget Gems and a Cadbury’s Crème Egg, or how about a mixture of Flying Saucers, Little Imps, and a Sherbet Fountain? You might also choose a Barley Sugar, Banana or Strawberry Toffee, chocolate covered Toffee Logs, Spanish Gold, Coconut Ice, Shrimps and Bananas, and a Bubbly or Bazooka Bubble Gum – and do you remember the Bazooka Joe comic strip found inside the wrapper?

Sweet Memories

“I used to go to the Saturday pictures every week with a Jamboree Bag. It was a tanner (sixpence) to get in and tuppence for the sweets. Happy days!” 

Spring Chicken Facebook followers may never agree on which sweet shop treat was the best, but something they all agree on is that they got a lot of sweets for their money when they were children. An old penny went a long way back in the day, and as one follower commented:

“What can you get for a penny nowadays – it costs more than a penny to spend a penny in public loos!”

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