Blog good to me.
Here’s some book name suggestions for you:
Thanks Jeff. Keep the ideas coming – I like ‘Sweet Things’ especially, but, as Johnny Depp would say to Vianne in ‘Chocolat’, “It’s not my favourite.”
We are doing a research inquiry project about lollies on the goldfields. These are a few questions we need answered and we were wondering if you could answer them……
How available were the lollies?
How expensive were the lollies?
How did they make them?
Issy and Emily:)
You will find several references to lollies during this period (1850-1915) in Geoffrey Blainey’s Black Kettle and Full Moon: Daily Life in a Vanished Australia. Lollies were among the items in general stores when these were little more than a sheet of bark in front of a bush hut. Lollies were inside the Eureka Stockade. When they did well on the goldfields, miners gave lollies to kids. These lollies were likely unbranded, loose boiled lollies and they would have been relatively inexpensive. Hard boiled lollies of this nature required little in the way of equipment or financial outlay, and making them was reasonably easy. Macpherson Robertson, who began his business in Melbourne in the late 1880s, started out with an old nail can, which he turned into a make-do furnace, and a second hand saucepan. An old door laid over the family bath tub and a small quantity of sugar and he was away. And look where he ended up!
I just caught a feature on your lolly research on the consumer quarter (ABC). I like to reminisce about the days when the corner shop had at least 20 different types and they were 3 for a cent. I’m at Karalee now but grew up in Taringa right across the road from our local corner store. June Baverstock (our wonderful spinster shopkeeper) was like our second mum. She kept so many lollies and loved kids, particularly my sister and I. She took us to the Show every year and we came home loaded to the gunnels with showbags. Life was so simple and clean then. I am simply writing to thank you for bringing those days back in my mind and I am sure many others.
PS our favourites – Musk Sticks, Chicos (really cool at Ironside state school in ’74, Marjella Jubes, And back then you could buy a pack of tom thumb fireworks from the same display case. Not sanitary and yes yes safety but what fun. Kids today really miss out on simple fun.
I am glad you enjoyed the segment, Darryl. I have been working on this research for four years now and the project is almost finished. Along the way I have met many people who, like you, have fond memories of buying and consuming lollies. You’re not far from Brassall: I guess you’ve sampled the wares at Boody’s Great Wall of Lollies.
I came across your name, research into lollies and then your blog after buying 2 small boxes on eBay. I was trying to find information on “Sweetacres Green Peas” and the firm of Sweetacres. The other box was for “Sweetacres Cachou Pills.” I collect and research cachous and cachou containers much as you do lollies. Cachous are not sweets but a breath perfume or breath mint. Often the line between them is blurred. Pez is an example of a product that started life as breath refresher and later became a sweet. Cachous were made by chemists, tobacco companies, confectioners, etc.
Please let me know if you have information on Green Peas or if you have information on any companies that made cachous as well as lollies.
Also check out my want list which contains a number of pictures of cachou boxes
How wonderful to meet a fellow confectionery researcher. It is interesting that most of our “lollies” started out on the benches of apothecaries: marshmallow, musk, peppermint, and licorice were used to aid digestion, fix bad breath, alleviate flatulence, relieve chest colds, and the like. Sugar itself was deemed to have medicinal properties, and when Thomas Aquinas had to decide whether or not it was a violation of a fast to consume spiced sugar, he ruled that spiced sugars were consumed for medicinal purposes, were therefore not food, and could be eaten during a fast. I have never heard of Green Peas, but I can tell, you a bit about Sweetacres. The firm started with James Stedman, who was the son of a convict, and his sweets were marketed as Lion Brand Confectionery. He later joined with Henderson and then the company was called Stedman-Henderson, until the factory in Sydney was dubbed Sweetacres in the 1920s. I think James was gone by then, but his company went on to create Minties, Fantales, and Jaffas – three Australian confectionery icons. So . . . from ‘currency lad’ to ‘confectionery king’. And somewhere along the way Green Peas, no doubt.
Great to see someone researching the history of lollies! We do a little lolly history feature on our show ‘Afternoon Delight’ each week. The show is all about sweet treats and we often have to base our research on Wikipedia. We’d love to have a chat to you on the show some time if you’d be interested.
I’d be happy to Jonathan.
Fantastic! Our show is live to air here in Colac each Sunday from 3 – 4pm. If you email email@example.com we can tee up a time to chat either liveor pre-recorded. Thanks very much.
You don’t happen to have any research on Clinkers do you. Cannot find much on the internet about them and that’s our focus on this weeks show.
Let’s see…..Macpherson Robertson invented them, but because Cadbury/Fry/Pascall now owns MacRobertson’s, Clinkers now wear the Pascall brand. The name may originate from ‘clinkers’ being little pieces of burnt coal, which I believe can have a glossy appearance. They consist of a panned milk chocolate coating on a crisp, foamy sugar confection, which I don’t recall encountering in any other form at the lolly counter. There are 4-5 differently-coloured centres, and people play a game with them that involves trying to guess the colour inside before biting into them. You have to keep choosing a new one until you get it right.
Hello Toni, I hope you can help me? I have been invited to a 1920’s dinner evening with some very close friends in a couple of weeks’ time, and as part of the theme, I am required to present a talk on significant lollies that were invented / release in Australia during 1920 to 1930 period. I would be grateful if you could point me in the right direction please?
Hi Ron. Well they gave you a hard one didn’t they? (No pun intented).
Many of our iconic lollies came along in the 1930s, but some of our major firms were operating by the 1920s. James Stedman, whose dad was a convict, was well under way and selling hundreds of products, sherbet among them. Alan Marshall, in his memoir, I Can Jump Puddles, tells us that kali busters (sherbet) “rocked the lolly-loving fraternity” in the early 1900s. Stedman’s company became known as Sweetacres in the 1920s and the first iconic Sweetacres lolly was invented in 1922: Minties. You’ll find some history for Minties, and their moments like these wrappers, on the web. That’s the longest-running slogan in Australia’s advertising history, by the way.
Also in the early 1920s, about eight years after they were developed in Cleveland, Ohio, a group of Aussie confectioners got together to secure the rights to produce LifeSavers in Australia. Here the product took on new meaning. In the U.S. a lifesaver is a flotation device, which we call a lifebuoy. Here, however, a lifesaver is a tall, bronzed symbol of national identity, which the Americans call a lifeguard. The 1920s was the beginnings of our beach culture, so handsome lifesavers and 1920s bathing beauties offered great advertising potential for this new product. You’ll find information about the invention of LifeSavers on the web too.
At an international level, Australia’s most influential company has to be MacRobertson’s Chocolates. Macpherson Robertson started making sweets in the family bathroom in the 1880s. He had paid nine pence for a second-hand saucepan, for boiling sugar, and an old nail can, which he converted into a small furnace. By the 1920s, when he produced a book called A Young Man and a Nail Can, his company was huge and his staff massive, but he could still go to the spot in the factory where the old bathroom was. MacRobertson’s products were known as the “best-dressed chocolates in the world” because he spared no expense with packaging.
In the 1930s along came Hoadley’s White Knights, Jaffas (1931), Freddo Frog, probably Fantales and lots more. A. W. Allen, Hoadley’s, Plaistowe and Darrell Lea were all rising to prominence at this time too. It’s a wonderful industrial heritage.
The quip about this being a “hard one” refers to the fact that kids in the early decades didn’t have much money, and were likely to spend their halfpenny on hard-boiled lollies (up to 20 a penny) rather than a chocolate because they lasted longer. Take some Minties to the party with you. Have fun.
Hi Tony, I’m a son of a 4th generation grocer. We sold lollies for well over 100 years, (I pinched them though when dad wasn’t looking) I first rolled Jaffas down the isle at the Lyric Theatre Bendigo in the 1950s but I loved Allens Cure-em-Quick cough lollies. I now have a museum collection which is to go on public display in July 2014 when my Dad will cut the ribbon on his 90th birthday. I’d love to buy a copy of your thesis ( autographed of course).
Keep up the good work.
Hi Allan, how lovely to hear from you. You Dad must certainly have a wealth of stories I bet. I will email you the details of how you can order a copy of my thesis from the University POD service. And I am interested in seeing your collection. Where exactly does it go on display in July?
LLC COUGH lollies. Where can I get them. Do they still make them
Thanks for your query Veronica. I know one of the ingredients in LLC Jubes became illegal, as you will see in an earlier post, but I am sure I was still seeing them in Woolworths a decade or so back. Maybe the product was modified. You could try just about anywhere that sells a good range of lollies. They were an Allens product, which means Nestle would now be in charge of them. You could always send an email in that direction. Let me know if you find out anything.
Hi Toni thanks for quick reply. Yes Dad knows a lot when Grocer shops were king! My Museum will form part of our old shop now an antique centre, I am setting up in what was the main bar of Nixon’s Exchange Hotel. It is next to my grandparent old home in Brooke St North, Inglewood, Victoria North of Bendigo. I’ll keep you informed on here. I might even roll a Jaffa on the restored floor! Cheers Allan
Bendigo! Well, that’s a long way from where I live, but you never know . . .
My father-in-law, who is in his late eighties, gave me a lecture the other day on the magnificence of the old grocery shops. He was a produce merchant, and so delivered to scores of them. He recalls how broad was the range of merchandise they carried. Please do let me know how your plans pan out.
Hi Toni, I will keep you informed re the opening of the museum. Your Father-in-law would have seen some great old shops over the years I did a four states tour looking at old shops and have enough material sent to me from all over Australia to do a book. I’ve published 20 books so 21 might be the Grocers book if I ever finish it. Once the museum is open I might have more time, although I’m now on the board of management of the eucalyptus oil distillery museum, so I don’t travel as much as I did. Make sure you get you father-in-laws story down. I’m sure he has lots to tell you and you will regret it if you don’t, he’s a treasure and we need their stories.
hi Toni I am from Ballarat and need to know if Allens still make Cure em quicks , I used to love em but now cannot get them.
I remember Cure ’em Quicks Philip – tiny black squares that came in a small white tube and had a really strongly licorice flavour – something like LLC jubes. They were dainty things, except for the taste. Related in some way to Check ’em Quicks too – maybe a later version. But to answer your question, I haven’t seen them for a long time. When did you last buy them?
They had to change the name in the late 60s/early 70s because of misleading advertising : the Cure ’em Quick was impossible to prove, so the name was changed to Check ’em Quicks. They were great, and I was discussing these yesterday with an elderly relative who would have loved to still be able to get them.
What happened to llc jubes, they were a favourite of quite a few people. Who were the makers of them? Are they still the available?
I loved them too. An Allen’s product, I believe, acquired after Allen’s took over a smaller company called Walco, which also gave us Quick-Eze. LLC stands for the three primary ingredients: licorice, obviously, linseed, and chlorodyne, which was developed in the nineteenth century for the treatment of cholera, and contained laudanum and cannabis. Clearly, that ingredient had to go. I’m not sure about LLC jubes though; perhaps they live on in some modified form. Let me know if you find them.
My great grandfather used to make lollies. My 91 year old Father tells me he was on par with Macpherson Robertson. We still have some recipes and the lolly presses he used.
How wonderful Ros. Tell me more . . .
Are his recipes handwritten in a notebook or are they printed? And what are the presses like? Are they drop rollers?
Did your great grandfather have a brand name?
Hi my name is Janny and I know this is a long shot but I was wondering if you can still get Llc cough drops they use to be in a small roll mum use to buy them back in the 1970s they were made by allens confectioners
I don’t know that I’ve seen them lately but you could get them in larger supermarkets until a while ago. The three ingredients were linseed, liquorice and chlorodyne (LLC). I believe cannabis was a key ingredient in the last of these, which was considered a wonder drug in the early twentieth century. But the C must surely have stood for something else in recent decades. They were pretty good; I know I liked them as a kid.
What is the status of a published book based on your PHD thesis?
Remember hearing a few years ago that something was in the pipeline but I haven’t seen anything as yet? Is there anyway to access your PHD?
It would be great to see a version of your work in print (yeh, digital print as well!)
I wondered if your research had established a definitive date for the first appearance of Violet Crumble? Some sources say 1913, and Nestle apparently claim 1923. But the earliest mention I can find is in 1921 (a retailer’s ad in Perth) although the brand name was registered in 1923. There seems to be a lot of storytelling and self-referential material on the web as many accounts have Abel Hoadley naming the product after his wife’s favourite flower – despite the fact that he retired from the business in 1913 and died in 1918. If you know more, I’d love to get to the bottom of this as my pet project is a timeline of Australian food (you’ll find it if you Google Australian Food History Timeline). Also – I’d love to buy your books if they’re available.
I too have encountered this problem. I found no specific references to this in the Nestle archive, which is by no means extensive. I think the story about the wife’s favourite flower and the 1913 date have to do with Hoadley’s Violet Assortment (boxed). The popularity of the chocolate-coated crumble bits of this gave rise to the bar, I believe, and I think the bar arrived in 1923/4 around the same time as the Cherry Ripe (MacRobertson’s).
A food timeline – what a great project, and such a great resource. Storytelling is the big problem; I don’t know how many times proprietors have told me they invented take-away roast chicken or steak sandwiches. The truth is that in the days before facebook it is likely that multiple people did invent these things, not knowing that they were already our there somewhere else. We just don’t know who invented it first. (Sigh)
The lolly book isn’t out yet but Aphrodite and the Mixed Grill: Greek Cafes in Twentieth-Century Australia has been reprinted and is available for sale. $49.50 plus postage. Just email me to arrange the purchase if you’re interested in Greek cafes and milk bars from the 1920s on. Very few left now.
Wow – thanks for the instant reply. Regarding dates for Violet Crumble, it was definitely around in 1921 as there’s an advertisement from this year offering a box of Violet Crumbles. I tried to find your email address on your blog but it didn’t seem to be in evidence. Perhaps you could email it to me – firstname.lastname@example.org – and I’ll get back to you.
Back in the late 60’s early 70’s I remember my parents purchasing a small bag of butter balls which were either red or yellow depending on the milkbar they were purchased from. The balls used to be very hard but greasy and the grease would soak through the white paper bag (this was, presumably, a testament to the amount of butter in the lolly). Do these lollies now exist or do they now join the list of sweets that have been relegated to history?
I’ve never had the delight of trying one of your butter balls. What state were you living in at the time? I’ve never heard of them. But it’s interesting how explicit your description is and how your memory is tied to the feel of them and they way they leaked out into the paper. Thanks for your post.
Hi Tony – I am writing a chapter for a book about changes in the way our suburb of Middle Park in Victoria has changed in the last 100 years, particularly the way we once shopped and the disappearance of the corner shop. I am mapping all the former corner shops and what sort of shop they once were. Many of them were confectionery shops and I need a bit of background information as to what sort of lollies these shops sold. I gather that the lollies were sold loose. However, were any other sorts of confectionery also sold? – such as boxes of chocolates? Were only lollies sold or were pastries of some sort also sold? There seem to have been an awful lot of confectioners in our suburb – how did they make a profit with so much competition? I would appreciate the names of some of the popular lollies of the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s.
Hi Toni – thank you for the link to your thesis – unfortunately I am unable to download it as I am neither staff nor student at UQ. Any suggestions as to where I might obtain it?
You can order a print copy from UQ but probably not worth your while. How many lollies are you after? Minties (from 1921), Jaffas and Fantales (from the 1930s), Cherry Ripe and Violet Crumble (from the mid-1920s), Kali Busters, or sherbet suckers, from the 1910s and countless other count lines. Confectioners were also selling all of the British companies’ lollies at the time as early as 1900.
Hi Toni – the lollies you mention are wrapped whereas the lolly shops operating in Middle Park sold loose lollies such as chocolate bullets, licorice straps, chocolate freckles, etc which the children bought singly or so many for a penny, depending on the size. I was hoping to find a list of these types of lollies – rather than rely on the memories of ‘old timers’. I’m also interested in knowing why there were so many lolly shops in a suburb which had only 2500 dwellings – for example there were about 15 lolly shops in the early 1940s! I just need some background information for a chapter on ‘corner shops’
I’ve just finished taking the last of a packet of Allen’s Check-Em-Quicks that I found amongst my fathers belongings. They are/were quite effective in stopping a night cough and were small enough that they could be placed between gum and lip and just slowly dissolve during the night without fear of choking whilst sleeping. I would dearly love to be able to get them gain.
I haven’t seen them around. It my be that you just ate the very last Check-Em-Quicks in existence. When I was little they were known as Cure-Em-Quicks and they were, as you say, pretty good. I’ll let you know if I find somewhere that you can replenish your supplies.
I am wondering if in your research of James Stedman Henderson Ltd. you came across a list of employees at the original site in Rosebery in 1918. Also, if you have any knowledge of the name N.A.S.C.M Co, in conjunction with the confectioner’s business name -and if this was an original partnership?
If so, a private e-mail exchange would be greatly appreciated.
I was just doing some research on Marella Jubes as my grandfather (William Kirby CEO of LifeSavers in the 1960″s & worked for James Stedman Henderson plus other confectionery companies prior to this) actually named Marella Jubes but wasn’t sure when. He had one afternoon to come up with a name for the new jube and so as was his want would often go down to Sydney Harbour pondering the name & presently steaming through Sydney Heads was a ship called the SS Marella and as they say the rest is history! There is much more I can tell you about him; he was a wonderful man who survived two world wars.
Thank you for getting in touch. I can’t tell you how glad I am to learn of your grandfather’s naming of Marella Jubes; finding the origins of products is difficult. The S.S. Marella was completed in 1917 but I don’t know when the product was first made. The Nestle website says Marella Jubes have been sold since the 1930s. They certainly feature among people’s favourite memories of picture theatres, along with Jaffas, of course. I would LOVE to hear more of your grandfather and his ‘lolly career’. I’ll email you.
Interested to read of Cure-em-quick above. I also heard that the name was changed to check-em-quick as cure constituted an unreasonable claim. I remember my father using them to mask alcohol fumes. Also, as a young child (about 7 or 8, 1964) I consumed a whole small white vial of them and was very sick. I still vividly remember throwing up the whole lot and their resemblance to mouse crap (I had white mice at the time).
I smiled at that last explanation; was wondering how a little boy would know what mouse droppings looked like en masse. One of those small white vials is still kicking around in my stuff somewhere – good for keeping charcoal in. Unfortunately it lost its label long ago. Thanks so much for adding those insights Bill.
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