Saturday 18 February 2012: Sugar, sugar
Cardigan town's magnificent Yum Yum sweet shop sells all those distantly remembered childhood favourites that old codgers love to reminisce about. Aniseed drops and pear drops, humbugs and bulls eyes, sherbet bombs and toffee chews, love hearts and parma violets, black bullets and black jacks - even farflung specialities like soor plooms and Berwick cockles (although not my half-brother's fondly recalled 'Nelson's strippit baws'.) Old fashioned herbal confections sound positively Dickensian: coltsfoot rock, hot peas, kop kopps, lun jeelers and troach drops: would anyone want to put those in their mouths today? These Lossin Dant are Welsh humbugs with sticky centres. The name means 'tooth lozenges' and without a doubt they and all the rest have given custom to generations of dentists.
Sugar as a commodity has evil roots and sinister branches. Sugar production spawned some of the worse brutalities of the slave trade and created some of the wealthiest and most powerful entrepreneurs in history. Sugar, initially a luxury item for the upper classes in Britain, gradually filtered down to become a everyday necessity of the labouring classes. They came to rely upon sugar to sweeten their dull and meagre diets and to provide a calorific boost to their working day. Commercial interests ensured that sugar was easily available in many forms, sometimes disguised in medicinal form, and with a population hooked on the stuff it became a massive source of revenue for the state and for world markets.
On a lighter note, who remembers this syrupy tune? Be warned, it sticks like treacle!
And don't miss Guinea Pig Zero's blip from just down the road.