sweet dreams in the lollipop shop

13 January 2010

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Today I had to go for some medical tests, and as I have mentioned before, after such encounters I like to give myself an edible treat – it is a legacy from my childhood. Serendipitously, there was the loveliest little sweet shop right opposite the clinic (it was snowing and therefore far too cold for the aforementioned banana ice cream). Inside, it was packed with row upon row of traditional sweetie jars, racks of witty greetings cards, and an assortment of faux-vintage tea trays and cake tins. I bought a bag of cinder toffee and, having asked the shopkeeper what he would recommend, 100g of strawberries-and-creams. If you are ever in the vicinity, I heartily recommend popping in for a sugar hit.

Lollipop, 201 St John’s Hill, London SW11 1TH (020 7585 1588)

It was only when I got home that I noticed that the pre-packaged bags of old-school favourites, like my cinder toffee, were tied with pink velvet ribbon. This got me thinking that it is so often these little touches that set a shop apart from its competitors; this attention to detail that allows them to charge prices that are actually pretty hefty, in the knowledge that (if the shop is located in a certain kind of area) people will keep coming back.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and my chat with the shopkeeper – and part of what you’re paying for in any commercial transaction is the quality of that experience – but if you would rather save your pennies and have some fun in the kitchen, this may be just the book for you:

Hope and Greenwood (‘Purveyors of Splendid Confectionery’) is a brand built on a savvy eye for quaint detail, a quirky, characterful marketing voice and some stylish packaging. Plus the sweets are pretty good too, which certainly helps. They have two shops in London, and their merchandise is stocked in Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum and Mason, as well as in high-end local foodie outlets. The fact that they have now brought out a book suggests that they are confident of having a large fanbase.

Said book is a veritable journey through the world of confectionery. On no account would you want to show this to your dentist. Every chapter (Chocolate, Fudge and Toffee, Nutty, Mallows and Nougat, Fruity) provides countless opportunities for rotting teeth. But they make it all look like such glorious fun. Particularly irresistible are the violet creams (my Mum’s favourite), syrup sponge nuggets, sticky toffee truffles, Mr Greenwood’s buttered brazils, peanut pretzel knobblies, and – yum yum yummm – sherbet lemon marshmallows. Can’t wait to get started on some of these and make a real mess in the kitchen.

– – –

One last thing, vaguely relevant to the theme. Christmas is barely over and already we have Easter chocolate in the shops…what’s that about?! Today I spotted Mars’ seasonal (or woefully premature, depending on how you look at it) offering – the MaltEaster: ‘milk chocolate bunny with a crunchy and creamy Malteasers centre’- and, on the shelf below, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Caramel Bunnies. I’m going to conduct a taste-test with some friends tomorrow; will let you know the verdict.

Lollipop shopfront photo credit: cackhanded on Flickr
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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jon-ster 14 January 2010 at 7:38 am

I’ve heard anecdotally that as the temperature plummets to -20, a favourite past-time of the Russians is to go and eat ice-cream….I imagine that it actually makes the lips feel warm by comparison.

As for ever-more-early marketing of seasonal merchandise…well, it’s an econmic thing. They want to flog more and more stuff, hence the earlier dates of sale. This is part of the reason Easter is even more soulless and cynical than Christmas, since there’s no way anyone is going to knock up a chocolate egg at home, whereas most will have a crack at xmas dinner, and even pud and (flamingo) biscuits.

Otherwise, I can feel my teeth dissolve in sympathy over all those sugary treats!


green apple sorbet 14 January 2010 at 2:05 pm

Saw a poster on the side of a bus today with the slogan ‘creme egg season is here…1st Jan – 4th April’. Crazy! (much as I love creme eggs)

“There’s no way anyone is going to knock up a chocolate egg at home” – is that a challenge?! 🙂


Jon-ster 14 January 2010 at 4:52 pm

If you can do it, then there’s a culinary treat in it for you……..let it be a hollow egg, no need for extra treats inside, but has to maintain egg-shape in the solid state! Prize? I’m open to raised stakes…..

(And the creme-egg-season debacle….don’t start me off. I saw a TV add for same on 01/01/10…..I wish to seriously damage ad exec or other)


green apple sorbet 14 January 2010 at 4:54 pm

You’re on!

Jon-ster 15 January 2010 at 10:41 am

Deal. The great unveiling may be on the Easter weekend? That’s the 3-4th April this year….


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