Australia, blogging

The First time I Ate a Lolly

When was that?

I can’t recall the first time at all. Is that a sign of early dementia?

Early Memories of Lollies and School in Australia

I do recall buying a lolly, at four years. I was given a meagre amount of pocket money to buy lollies and firecrackers at the small old-style convenience shop next to my school.

I’d be considered a child at risk if I replicated that scenario, today. The frame of history makes that particular reflection socially acceptable. It is worth noting that the pocket money was also for the purposes of buying a slate pencil and eraser as that was of the utmost importance to my attending school. Such were the days.

It was the mid-1960s. We’d just moved interstate where I had already commenced school, as a pupil in level Prep. Perhaps my Mother didn’t want me to have me sitting around at home as we were, after all, living at my Grandmother’s house, temporarily.

Whatever the reasons, I was sent to school and placed in primary Year 1, as Queensland had no prep year at that time. I was still only four years old, and turning five soon. I had skipped a full year of school, which gave me the dubious honour of being the youngest child to ever attend that particular Primary School. Surprisingly, I coped.

But, I have digressed. Back to the lolly.

Lollies were often 2 for 1 cent when purchased individually from the corner stores.

My all-time favourite was an OSO lolly.  It was oval and orange, about 3 cm in length. A flavoured gelatin lolly, tasting of orange favouring and an abundance of sugar, of course. It had OSO in raised letters on one side. The memory of savouring this is strong, even after 55 years.

Osos would slowly dissolve in the mouth into a sticky gooey mass. In the process drip feeding sugar to the body. Sucking it slowly was ideal for soothing an inflamed throat. Better still was that sudden burst of energy, the short-lived sugar high that was OH So Good. Is that where the lolly’s name originated? Oh….SO….  And the word, ‘good,’ was dropped as it was too long to be stamped into that size lolly?

For years, I have searched for replica versions of that sweet, even internationally, thinking that perhaps vintage-style lolly shops might stock my childhood favourite. Alas, I never have found any at all. Osos have been relegated to history. Obsolete.

In a nod to the Oso, I snavel every orange-coloured snake out of Allen’s Snakes packet and eat them before they disappear- oh so good.  

Differing Names for Sweets

Lollies have different names depending on where you live – sweets in England, candy in America and a range of crazy names in Denmark. The generic Danish equivalent of the word lolly or candy is slik, but individually the Danes have lollies or slik with some quirky names. Names designed to appeal to kids’ quirky humour, translated into Danish of course. Imagine entering a shop and asking, as Danish children do, for a few ‘Dog Farts‘. Or hearing children in a playground discuss their favourites – “I absolutely love eating Pigeon droppings,” – this is the translation to English, of course.  

Danish Lollies

This reminds me of a story about children and Danish lollies.

Danish and possibly some Dutch lollies have a strong aniseed or sour flavour. I am not a fan, although the sour Danish lollies are fun, for a prank. Each year, my kind Danish friends and family would send bags of them to Australia, usually at Xmas, or Easter. It was a very kind gesture particularly as shipping became so expensive, in later years.

 My son was the only family member who could, or would eat, the sour lollies, but there were way too many, even for his sweet tooth. He’d take them to school in his lunchbox. At lunch break, he’d announce to his ten-year-old classmates that he had lollies to share.

He’d be mobbed in seconds.

Kids would form a pack around him like bees anxious to reach the hive. “Only take one,” my son would warn, holding out the lolly bag out for them to help themselves.

The greedy kids suffered the most, determined to scoff a good handful into their mouths at once. They seemed frightened of losing one or two, to a fellow schoolmate if they held back.

Seconds later, they’d realise their mistake and immediately stop chewing.

Turning a murky tangerine colour, their face would twist into a grimace. Gagging noises resembling a meat mincer that’s jammed while processing a piece of gristle, could be heard across the playground. With eyes watering, the boys would rush towards the water bubblers to wash away the foul-tasting lolly.

Strangely, only one or two kids, came back for seconds.

What was your first memory of eating a lolly, sweet or candy?

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69 thoughts on “The First time I Ate a Lolly”

  1. Sweets were rationed in my childhood (b1942) so I never really got a taste for them. My teeth are grateful. At Grammar school in 1953 I received my first pocket money (one shilling – equivalent of today’s 10p – which, like yours, had to cover school materials)

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    1. Priorities were so different in those days, Derrick. School materials first and luxuries like lollies last, if at all. I only recall having sweets at birthday parties or Xmas and like you, I have almost no cavities. My husband’s family on the other hand always had lollies in the house and they all have a shocking number of teeth that needed filling. Sugar really is the dentist’s enemy.

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        1. Now that is a whole ‘nother discussion, Derrick. I came from Victoria – the southern state where fluoride was added to the water = no cavities or minimal ones. When we moved up north, Mum gave us flouride tablets to compensate for the lack of fluoride. For some reason, it is still not added to the water here, and dental caries are higher in this state. My kids were given fluoride drops but not religiously. They have no fillings at all.

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  2. I enjoyed reading about your lollies.

    My dad was a dentist, so we didn’t have sweets at home. That’s why Halloween was so special for my brother and me. It was the only day of the year that we had a plethora of sweets, given to us by our neighbors. The first time I remember buying a candy bar was at a basketball game. I was a young teenager with a bit of spending money in my pocket. I stood at the table, carefully making my choice. Some I had never tasted. Should I get a candy bar I’d never had before or go with something I knew I’d like? Familiarity probably won out. I’ll bet the person behind that table thought I was a bit “dim” for hesitating so long.

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    1. With your father being a Dentist, it is little wonder you appreciated Halloween, Anne. And I am not surprised that you finally tasted a lolly during your teen years. It must have been overwhelming for you to choose that first sweet. Was it satisfying or disappointing? I imagine it would have tasted over the top sweet.

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  3. Loved your recollections, Amanda. I don’t have a lolly / sweet story to share. Either I never had any or I had enough not to make them special (I was a chubby child, so probably the latter). But I remember that we had an aunt who lived in a town at the Swiss border and she used to bring special Swiss chocolate called Frigor whenever she visited. Her visits were always eagerly awaited. – The other thing I marvel about is school age. I know that British (and obviously) Aussies start school earlier than German children but still … I remember starting school the week I turned seven.

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    1. That Swiss chocolate must have been a real treat. I can imagine your mouths watering seeing your Aunt arrive!
      I was an unusual case. Whilst prep was formerly a play year the children now do school work and children start school 6 months later. They used to have be 6 by the time school started in february of the year – school starts at the end of January. Now the cut off to start school is june so the kids are older when they start. Generally they finish school in their 17th and 18th year – which is younger than in Scandinavia where they are mostly at least 19 years.

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  4. I really cannot remember the first time eating candy, but chocolate was always a part of Christmas and other holidays. I’d guess I was around 10 when I was considered old enough to walk with a friend to the grocery and Woolco, the back way along the creek where we didn’t have to cross any major roads. I remember that we would buy several pieces of candy or a chocolate bar one at a time to avoid paying the taxes. Due to the bad behavior of one of my older brothers, I was not given pocket money as a child so I’m not sure where the money came from for these treats. When I was very young, I was given a Santa Pig penny bank and I recall going around the room when we had people over demanding that they feed Santa Pig. But I wonder, now, where those pennies and nickels came from to pay for our exciting trips to the store practically all by ourselves.

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    1. It is a mystery where all those nickels came from, Zazzy. It sounds like a joyous childhood despite older brother’s behaviour. And you kids were canny about money then – buying in bulk to save the tax! Well done!

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  5. Amanda, we were huge fans of the more elaborate Tootsie Pop, which was a lollypop surrounding a tootsie roll center. The goal was to avoid biting into the middle for as long as possible. Thanks for the sweet memory. Keith

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      1. Amanda, not large, but shaped like a small round ping pong ball on a stick. The outside flavors varied – cherry, grape, even chocolate, but the inside was a chocolate chewy round tootsie roll. If you could get to the middle without it breaking apart it was a huge success. Keith

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        1. They clearly didn’t think marketing them in Australia was viable. I have never seen anything of that description. Shame though, as they sound delicious.

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  6. Absolutely no recall regarding first time, but I do remember loving Wednesdays as a child because my “aunt” (actually my grandma’s best friend) would come over and bring sweets with her. They were often toffees, but in her old school Derbyshire accent she would pronounce it “tuffy”. That would be mid-1960s too.

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    1. Ah – Tuffys! I can hear the accent! Aren’t some friends or family thoughtful when it comes to the children. I had an Uncle who would always bring Chocolate Yogi bears for me and my brother and so we eagerly awaited his visits. Come to think of it, I wonder if that was my first sweet treat? As he would have been visiting us when I was really young and no doubt brought chocolates for my older brother. You have just solved the mystery, Phil!

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    1. Mmm, corn syrup – I wish they’d differentiate between corn syrup and sugar. In moderation I feel sugar is ok, where as that dreaded corn syrup should be completely banned. It’s awful stuff, and in truth Peggy I sincerely believe we’re all allergic to it. It’s just that our bodies have somehow found a way of tolerating the intolerable.

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  7. I love this topic. I was about 4 y.o. and remember eating a Bun Maple Candy. It was blob-shaped with a maple center, coated in chocolate, rolled in peanuts. It was in the summer so it was hot inside [no AC]. I got messy with melted chocolate all over me and my mother just laughed, watching me devour it.

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    1. Oh my goodness, what a memory! The Bun Maple Candy sounds divine, Ally. Reading those words has got me thinking about eating some chocolate – uh oh….. I will have to go check the pantry……

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  8. I enjoyed your memories…and the reaction to your son’s sweet distribution…I could see and hear it all!
    No sweets at home, but visits to relatives gave access to tablet – like a grainy fudge – and Edinburgh rock, crumbly sticks in pastel colours. Mint imperials were issued for church – the place was redolent with their odour – and the minister timed by how many you had to suck to get through the sermon.

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    1. Thank you, Helen! I am glad the story of the sour lollies translated into a visual for you, albeit a bit of a yukky mental image! Tablet is an interesting name for fudge and Edinburgh Rock does sound intriguing. Your parents were probably not the only ones to bribe children to be quiet during church services with candy or lollipops. I quite like mint lollies, we have some that are shaped like leaves on a tree – gelatin like lollies coated in sugar. My Danish friends with their penchant for sour lollies got quite a shock when they were so sweet! Ironically, almost the same reaction as the kids in the playground spitting out the sour licorice Danish lollies.

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          1. I realized I never did a post on this, so I will have to this Christmastime. But it is about as simple as it can be. Melt any favorite chocolate chips, spread them on a parchment paper, and sprinkle with whatever strikes your fancy: white chocolate with peppermint stick crumbles, or dark chocolate with nuts and dried cranberries, milk chocolate with dried apricots and coconut, or mixtures of all the above. Let them cool to room temperature and break them apart in pretty little pieces!

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  9. I always thought lollies referred to lolipops or frozen popsicles. I didnt’ realise it was for all candy.

    I remember my first encounter with Licorice Allsorts. I think these were British rather than Danish candies, but it was a very rude surprise. Years and years later I tried them again thinking nothing could have been as bad as I remembered it. But no, it was just as bad!

    The first candy I remember liking was called Paradise Plums. They were sold out giant glass jars that stood on my auntie’s shop counter. The sweet hard candy was pink on the ouside with a ribbon of white stuff in the center that was very tart and very crunchy. The trick was to suck on the candy as long as you could without crunching it. Biting into it made it disappear quickly but it was irresistable.

    I’ve never seen these candies outside of Jamaica and I wonder if anyone else remembers something similar? I seem to recall reading about a similar candy (in the UK?) but I”m not sure. The tart white center is the distinguishing feature.

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    1. Now that you mention Licorice Allsorts, they could actually have been in the running for my first lollie! They were pretty much the only sweets on the Christmas table for my first few Christmases that I remember and like you – no kid ate them as they were pretty unpalatable. They are rarely seen here now – for good reason, if you ask me!
      Your paradise plums sound very much like what we called Salty Plums and they didn’t appear here until I was in high school. Apparently they are popular with some folks up in Darwin, Australia – if this article is anything to go by https://www.abc.net.au/local/videos/2012/06/01/3516374.htm

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      1. I know those salty plums! I called them wah-mua aka hua-mei in Mandarin. It’s different from Paradise plums in that salty plums are actually made from fruit. Paradise plum is made from sugar just like regular hard candy. So interesting that huamei was popular in Australia. Who’d have guessed!

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        1. Salty plums were a fad here with one vegetarian family so that was pretty much a small cohort that ate them at that time. The popularity in Darwin is probably due to Darwin being a much more multicultural city being close to Asia than it is to the rest of Australia.

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  10. What great memories you have evoked. Loved the story of your son sharing the Danish lollies. I don’t remember a first time but I do remember standing by at the milk bar counter selecting 10c worth of lollies. (Now I think of it, it was good for our maths. 😁) Cobbers were my favourite (chocolate coated squares of hard caramel that would rip your teeth out if you weren’t careful).

    With your orange fetish, were you also a fan of Sunnyboys?

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    1. Pocket money purchases are excellent to give children a concrete example of maths to follow. I have to confess that cobbers are a favourite for me too. We usually have them on the table at Christmas although like Fantails you have to be careful with the old dental fillings if you have any.
      Sunnyboys? Now that brings back memories of school tuckshops in primary school. I used to have a cream bun but I remember those triangular ice blocks. The School Mums would have to cut the corner off so that you could start to eat them. Excellent on a summer’s day but I didn’t really go for them. Milk bottles, Chicos, Teeth – and Bananas were good too. Filled with horrid yellow colouring that is bad for asthmatics. Did you get Red/orange cordial for afternoon tea drinks as a child?

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      1. Ooh, lolly bananas! They are my favourite running fuel. I encountered them on a trail run a few years ago and discovered how much better they are than snakes.

        We weren’t allowed cordial. Although, as a teenager, I recall drinking hot Tang on cross country skiing days. Mmmm. Yum. 😁

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        1. Gosh this thread is so evocative. Tang! My brother was obsessed with that for a while. Food brings back so many memories. Fancy bananas being your running food. That shall give me validation for eating a few more this Christmas. (the only time we regularly have lollies around – apart from Allens Snakes which #1 son buys as study fuel!)

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          1. My hiking lolly fuel is Squirms from the Natural Confectionery Co. I like the sour(ish – they’re not that sour really) kick I get for climbing the hills. Besides, it’s got “natural” in the name so it must be okay to eat a whole packet, right?

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            1. Oh yes sometimes my son opts for the “natural” snakes too although he prefers Allens. Probably more of a sugar hit.
              I have seen the Squirms – not tried them though

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    1. So you are a fan of licorice, Janis? You must have some Scandi genes somewhere then. They love licorice over there – in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
      The remarkable thing about blogging is the universal perspective it gives us. We learn terms from all over the world – that makes us wise! Lol….

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  11. I also don’t remember the first time I had a lolly. But I think that’s “infantile amnesia” which is distinct from early dementia.

    Thanks for the memories.

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  12. Until you mentioned that in England we call lollies sweets I was a bit confused, as we use ‘lolly’ to mean an ice lolly, that is a frozen ice cream or fruit ice on a stick!

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  13. Money for lollies was scarce in ‘the old days’, so they were definitely an occasional treat. Occasionally when my step father came home drunk after the 6 o’clock swill on pay day, he’d fall asleep on the sofa. When he’d finally go to bed we’d all feel down the back of the sofa for coins that may have dropped out of his pockets. If we were lucky there’d be a whole shilling, and my brother would cycle up to the shop and bring back a shillings worth of mixed lollies. It was a huge bag, giving all 7 of us at least 5 -6 lollies each. I think the milk bottles were my favourite.

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    1. Milk bottles are still one of my favourites, Chris. But they only are purchased in my family at Christmas time. Along with teeth and fantails and Chicos. And by New Year I have had enough lolly sugar to last me until the next Xmas. Unless of course I get a throat infection, which (touch wood) doesn’t seem to happen much since I retired and am away from kids with their snotty noses and coughs. I do like to suck on a gelatin lolly when my throat is sore.
      I love the story about you kids capitalising on the stepfather’s stupor. Whilst my husband doesn’t drink to that extent, the coins are still found in the back of the sofa if one looks…..

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  14. What an interesting post. I don’t remember my first lolli (Lutscher in Austria/Germany ‘lecca-lecca’ in Italian) but I remember the one I liked the most. It was a brown lollipop, it tasted like Coca-Cola and was a hit in our boarding school. Once a week in the evening we could buy candy. A big cupboard was opened and we stood in line, wearing pj’s and robes and spent a few pennies on candy. Gummi bears or licorice, hard candy, small candy bars, and lollipops. The kids who shared a bedroom (two or four girls) bought different things, so we all could share.

    As for me. I am (and always will be) a gummy bear girl. 🙂

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    1. Gummy bears! I think a lot of people would agree with you on your favourite Lutscher. Thanks for teaching me a new word, well two words. A brown lollipop that tastes of Coca-cola doesn’t sound inviting, but as I wrote, tastes differ the world over.
      My grandmother used to be a fan of boiled lollies. I imagine they were similar to hard candy?

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      1. As kids, we didn’t drink sodas, only water, tea or homemade lemonade. Most of us had tried Coca Cola maybe at a festival or a special occasion, so the Coca Cola lollipop and later the Coca Cola gummy bears were the ultimate ‘cool’ taste sensation.

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  15. Funny name: In Norway, a lollipop is called «Kjærlighet» (which translates to “love”) or «kjærlighet på pinne» (“love on a stick”). I, personally, was not a lollipop kid, although I did enjoy candy such as Fun Dip and Nerds and lifesavers (I guess this is akin to a lollipop OFF a stick). It is fun to think back to those sugary treats. I was ecstatic when my sister sent a care package from the US some years ago that had American candy from my past and I just HAD to share Pop Rocks with my kids (who were too young back then to really understand why I was laughing and grinning about some noisy candy).

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  16. I enjoyed your reflections Amanda and I could imagine the surprise those school children had with the sour lolly’s

    Also laughed at the “Pigeon droppings” term

    For me? I remember in middle school keeping a bag of “Pal” pink bubble gum in my locker and having it for a long time

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      1. Hahaha – yes – bubble blowing was probably heat for deep breathing – even tho the crappy “Pal” brand I had was not ideal for bubbles and was just simple little pink pieces (that also likely damaged my teeth! Argh!) but the bran over here that made large bubbles was called “hubba bubba”

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        1. Hubba Bubba was marketed here too, so it made it across the Pacific. One of the few food brands to do so. Hershey’s chocolates were only introduced a decade or so ago. Prior to that, you would only find them in specialty imported confectioners.

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