Sixty years ago this month, official rationing of sweets and confectionery came to an end. Sweet-loving Londoners (adults as well as children) raised a big cheer!
Rationing of sweets was imposed in 1942 during the Second World War. People were allowed six ounces (170 grams) of sweets per week. Regulations remained in place until 1953 as sugar was in such short supply.
The end of sweets rationing in February 1953 produced a frenzy of sugar-fuelled celebrations in the capital: children gorged on lollipops and toffee apples, office workers sucked boiled sweets with abandon. By June, sweet consumption was up to eight ounces (227 grams) a week and newspapers noted that chocolate-loving men were partly behind the rise!
Londoners have always had a sweet tooth. By the time rationing was imposed, London had hundreds of confectionery firms. Among them were Handysides, a small family-run confectioners on Holloway Road in Islington.
The sweets in the suitcase date from the 1930s and are samples carried by Mr Alfred Handyside, who acted as the firm’s travelling salesman. During the 1920s the firm expanded into the export trade and Mr Handyside travelled, with his sweet samples, throughout the Middle and Far East, always sailing first-class on ocean liners. The samples include chocolate allsorts, lavender cachous, black and white mints and fruit jubes. These retro sweets are fast coming back into fashion today.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth visit Fortnum & Mason, which has a delicious display of confectionery and chocolate on the ground floor!