Saturday, 3 November 2012

Just me and Nigel Slater, then?

a still from Teddy Gray's Sweet Factory, a 20-min film by Martin Parr about one of the last old sweet factories (click link to watch)
Are you like me and now believe that the Internet more or less mirrors reality, that everything is 'out there' somewhere, if you can just find the right search terms to put into Google?
Up until now, the only thing I can think of that I couldn't find any reference to online was the 'curse' I have to say every time I see a lone magpie: 'Evil be to thee, good be unto me, get thee gone where thee should be'. Surely I can't be the only person to say this, or even the only person to mention it online? (Having just searched again, I still didn't find it but found instead the tradition of saying 'Devil, devil, I defy thee!' to lone magpies, which must surely be related?)
Now I've found something else dear to my heart which almost no one else seems to remember: Parkinson's Fruit Thins. I must have eaten a hundredweight of these in the course of my childhood. They were beautiful, individually wrapped, inch-square thin panes of boiled sugar. The shape just didn't fit comfortably in your mouth and that was a great part of the pleasure, somehow: pressing the four corners up into the tender roof of your mouth with your tongue or using it to lacerate your cheek when it got to a wafer.
     I've been haunting one or two vintage confectionery sites (such as A Quarter of) for years, waiting in vain for my favourite square (or, in fact, slightly rectangular) sweets to reappear.
     The photo above is the only one I've found that might possibly show an early version of Thins. Otherwise, nada. Then my latest fruitless search brought a mention of Thins by food-hedonist Nigel Slater, who includes them in his new book, Eating for England:
This is the reference, close up:
Just me and Nigel dreaming of Thins, then? I share his nostalgia for sweet shop sweeties and would urge you to watch Martin Parr's short film about Teddy Gray's old-fashioned sweet factory.
Talking of nostalgia, I've absolutely loved the comments on my last post, about saveloys and pease pudding. Jane from Jeeandme shared memories of eating many of the same foods as me growing up in Bristol, altering my picture of the North-East having been a culinary law unto itself. She also remembered eating pigs' trotters, stuffed hearts, faggots and chitterlings. I think I got away lightly.
     Lesley at Printed Material remembered making rollmops but hankers after Farley's Rusks! Some kind of regression thing going on there, maybe, Lesley? Like me with Heinz tomato soup poured on top of a pile of buttered bread cut up into little squares so it makes a bowl of red mush.
     Cathy at Me... Musing amazingly shares my love of Fray Bentos pies but admits to a thing for Spam and those (sorry) horrible little sausages in tins of Heinz baked beans. Let's not even start on Campbell's meatballs (except to say that Campbell's was too posh for our house...).    
     Joanna at Fiddlesnips! remembers eating beef dripping on toast -- me too! Unbelievable, isn't it? Did you also get to scoop out the marrow from the end of the lamb joint on a Sunday with the wrong end of a teaspoon? Shovel on the salt... mmm.
     Finally, Jill at Third Age Musings wrote what I can only describe as a love poem to Golden Syrup and sugar. Me too! Do you sneak a slurp straight out of the squeezy bottle when no one's looking? Syrup on fried rounds of suet, syrup on Yorkshire puddings, bananas dipped in sugar, tomatoes sprinkled with sugar (me, only when cooking them), and sandwiches made with lettuce, sugar and vinegar -- but that combo is what we used to call 'Yorkshire salad' and we had it every week with our Sunday joint, except that I always shunned it as I didn't like the combination of hot and cold on the same plate.
     I leave you with the memory of Chocolate Lovelies which you were supposed to defrost but which I always ate frozen, and lemon Choc Top yoghurts, which I loved even though the 'choc top' was just a thin layer of fatty stuff on top of an indifferent yoghurt. So bad it was good... And the best chocolate bar EVER:


Jee said...

Parkinson's fruit thins - that's a blast from the past! Can I add Fry's Five Boys and Triple Bar - sandwich bar of milk, dark and white chocolate in one bar, and condensed milk on bread and butter - or better still eaten straight from the tin. Not forgetting those bars wrapped in shiny red paper that only came from machine's on station platforms!

Joanna said...

It sounds like a different world, doesn't it?! The sad thing is, we know so much more about healthy food now and yet it's reported that children born now may well be out lived by their parents and that's purely down to diet.

Oh, and our dogs were the lucky ones that got the bone marrow from the lamb bone - removed with 'the special skewer".


Things Hand Made said...

Should you ever go to Bridlington, on the Yorkshire coast, and I feel you should, it's a very Martin Parr sortof plasce, then go into the John Bull rock factory and watch the demo on making rock. Even make you own. That's a childhood memetoy of mine, every year buying a ridiculous amount of peppermint rock off cuts. Can't stand the stuff now.

Of course Bridlington does have all of life, being David Hockneys current home town

Gina said...

Ooooh.... lots of memories here. I'm with Lesley on the Farley's rusks!

menopausalmusing said...

Loved the film Jane. Could have watched that machine that puts air into rock for ever...... The workers seemed so content too. You had me Googling all sorts of sweets from my chilhood. We used to have fruit bon bons when we had long car journeys. Such memories too of lusting after a bar of Milk Tray chocolates.......

LAC EMP 2020 said...

Did you see Nigel on BBC4 last night? I was in sweet shop heaven remembering those Aztec bars and the tv commercials! I also remember the milk sandwich bar, the Milk Tray slab and Parkinson's Fruit Thins. The programme on sweets made me think of memories attached to them and all of a sudden I pictured my Somerset Gran who never went anywhere without a packet of Callard and Bowsers Liquorice toffees in her bag. Is it any wonder I need extensive dentistry these days? I must have consumed a lifetime's worth of sugar in my formative years... I'm off to view the film now Jane. What's the betting it will make me yearn for a stick of rock? I might have to go to Tenby later......