/ Food & Drink

Which retro treats do you miss?

Quality Street

The news that Nestlé is scrapping the old-favourite Toffee Deluxe from its Quality Street selection and replacing it with a new sweet – the Honeycomb Crunch – was met with widespread outrage last week.

Apparently the decision was made because customers had complained that there were too many toffees in the tin and so poor old Toffee Deluxe was the one Nestlé chose for the chop.

The fact it picked a veteran (it’s been around since the First World War and is said to have been included in the first ever tins of Quality Street, which came into being in 1936) led to a bit of a meltdown on social media.

In fact, many incensed fans lamented that Christmas would never be the same again, and some even set up a petition to demand its reinstatement.

Discontinued treats

The furore reminded me of the time, back in 1999, when Heinz announced it was ceasing production of its salad cream. Upon hearing the news, I immediately rushed to Safeway to stock up, thinking that if I didn’t, I’d never get to savour its divine taste ever again.

Much like the demise of the Toffee Deluxe, the matter caused a national outcry and was even discussed in the House of Commons (yes, really). Heinz eventually relented, ploughed £10m into an ad campaign and increased the price by 40p, saving the ‘pourable sunshine’ for another generation.

Of course, food manufacturers withdrawing products from their range is nothing new – tastes and therefore demand change; and occasionally items are removed or reformulated on health grounds (who remembers the original Sunny Delight, forced to rebrand in 2003 and now made to a different recipe, reportedly turning kids orange).

But with public demand and social media campaigns successfully getting glorious treats like Cadbury’s Wispa (withdrawn from sale in 2003 and resurrected five years later in 2008), Burton’s Daily Fish ‘n’ Chips (died early 1990s, reborn 2014) and, rejoice, Trio (2003; 2016) – back on our shop shelves, I’m wondering if it’s worth petitioning for the return of some of my old favourites that have fallen by the wayside?

Reinstating retro treats

Top of my list would be Pacers. Similar to Starburst (or Opal Fruits, as I one knew them), only minty and with green and white stripes, a packet of these wouldn’t last five seconds in my company when I was a kid in the early 1980s.

Next would be a toss-up between Toffo and Cadbury’s Fuse. Then it would be tomato-flavoured Snaps (or do they still make them?). Oh, and let’s not forget Panda Pops…

Who’s with me then? Is there a discontinued brand item you’d like to see bought back?


Some here I’d not even heard of:

Courtesy The Throwaway History Blog

This your weekly shop Ian?

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I think that my all time favourite may be lurking in Ian’s trolley-Cadbury’s Milk Tray in bar form. This was the same size as a normal bar of chocolate (they were all small in those days) and had about eight different chocolates fused into a slab of chocolate.

You had a TV in the ’60s. Duncan? Lucky. All we had was an empty box and me dad, showing cut-out pictures from worn-out copies of the Radio Times each week, and moving them to the outside loo when we finished watching them. You had it easy.

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I think it’s time you bought one of the new editions, Duncan. It has colour pictures now and is no longer full of garden shed and corset adverts.

“eight different chocolates fused into a slab of chocolate.”

Now that’s something I never knew existed. One sweet I did enjoy but which I suspect we only ever had once, because of the cost, was milk chocolate-covered Clarnico mint creams, two stacks in a single, cellophane covered, green box, lounging enticingly on the confectioner’s shelves. The smell of mint to this day still evokes an image of the things.

Thanks, Ian, for bringing Clarnico Mint Creams back into my recollections. Are they still available? I seem to recall having some a few years back from a boring standard-sized packet rather than the attractive box you mentioned.

And from the confectioner’s jars – a lovely boiled sweet was Needler’s Glace Fruit Drops that were very long lasting and in half a dozen flavours/colours. And what became of Sharp’s Kreemy Toffees? – The mint ones were delicious. No wonder our teeth rotted!

I’ve searched Images online of the box; it was hexagonal in cross section, with the sweets displayed unwrapped behind the cellophane wrapping, but I can’t find it.

Courtesy of etsystatic.com

Thanks, Ian. That’s a nice old jar. 1970’s vintage I would guess. Confectioners’ jars are plastic nowadays.

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Yes, Ian – I’m still on the lookout for Clarnico Mint Creams – senza chocolate covering though!

Phil says:
3 October 2016

Terry’s 1767. A huge box of four layers of chocolates. A regular Christmas treat until they stopped doing them.

I used to love Opal Mints. They rebranded them as Pacers, but they never seemed as strong. The Clarnico mint creams were nice as well.

I miss Starburst Joosters and I was also quite a fan of the Wonka bars too. But on the flip side, there are some sweets that I’m quite happy to see the back of. The ‘Lanky Larry’ chew bar was the culprit of a sharp dash to the dentist at age 13, the chew bar was so fierce that I cracked a tooth 🙁

This is the offender:

Where’s the tooth, then?

I had a tooth cracked by a lemon sherbet boiled sweet probably about age 13. Never touched one again.

Ian, as you are a budding poet, did you know it is National Poetry Day on 6th October? I have suggested an annual poetry event on Which? If you think it is a good idea, perhaps you would like to give it the thumbs up in the ideas section.

If I may recycle an anecdote, I was once eating Thornton’s Brazil Nut Toffee and found I was chewing a hard white lump. It was not a foreign object but part of my tooth. 🙁 I’ve gone off toffee.

Maybe Ian could be the next poet lorry ate.

Ouch 🙂

Good idea Alfa; I’ll give it a tick.

Thankfully, unlike @wavechange ‘s experience, my tooth is mostly intact. The remainder went under my pillow; alas I found out that the toothfairy doesn’t pay a visit for cracked teeth, so as I recall it ended up in the bin…

It would have been more obvious if it had been liquorice toffee. Apparently chewing French bread (my dentist said) is a common way to find structural defects in our teeth.

My sweetie is far from nostalgic. I like genuine Jelly Beans. However, there is a selection called Bean Boozled where there are pairs of identically coloured beans but with totally contrasting flavours – one nice, one masochistic (or should it be sadistic?). Of course if you take the challenge you do not know which one you will get. They contain both natural and artificial flavours, Just as well if you explore the options. To get a “flavour” of the range: Buttered Popcorn/Rotten Eggs; Tutti Frutti / Stinky Socks; Peach / Vomit.

Well, would you suck these? 🙁

Ah yes, I chipped a tooth on french bread too – I haven’t been very lucky really…

Malcolm, this sounds suspiciously like Berti Bott’s Every Flavour Beans from Harry Potter, this is Dumbledore tasting an earwax flavoured bean https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSyIuFOPHDI

French Bread fracturing a tooth sounds a bit like a consequence of Breaxit. Hopefully the hazard will disappear in a couple of years when a large tariff is imposed.

I remember when my dad barbecued Mars bars. What you might not realise is that when Mars bars cool after being heated, the caramel goes rock hard. This led to two of my gran’s teeth snapping… :O

I expect the Aussies do this Patrick; they’ll barbecue at the drop of a hat. Are you being treated to lots of barbies and amber nectar?

I wonder what other people’s most unusual barbecued food is – apart now from Mars Bars?

Deep fried Mars Bars is one national speciality (I understand). Perhaps we could try Mars Bar Alaska?

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Today’s Mars bar is a pale shadow of its former self – shorter, thinner, less chocolate and tasteless filling. Maximus glutinous > minimis satisfax.

Er,…it’s satisfactionem, actually… (scuttles off stage R)

Yes, I knew that Ian – I wanted to avoid showing off my Latin declensions. Anyway, too many syllables.


Shouldn’t we be giving Mars laudare for obesus reductionem? Seems the sweetie suppliers cannot win really.

I think it’s bellum against the sweetums 🙂

Non possum credere me totum edisse…

Tu porcellum, amo scelerisque. 🙂

🙂 Die dulci fruere.

(This must be confusing the heck out of those browsing the index page)

Yes – it’s time you produced another poem, Ian; it’s long overdue.

Funny you should say that..,.

Ian – National Poetry Day has arrived, so perhaps you can add a little colour to other Convos.

Funny you should say that indeed, Ian has created a little treat for you all today here: https://conversation.which.co.uk/travel-leisure/poem-national-poetry-day/ 🙂

Wandering around our seaside M & S today I was enchanted by this year’s Christmas things coming on sale. They’re doing some really nice retrospective things but it struck me that it’s very difficult to know the quality of LED lights, for instance, or of wrapping paper or decorations in general. I still have a working set of lights, faithfully re-erected each year, from the 1950s. They undoubtedly break every electrical regulation in the book, there isn’t an original bulb left in the set yet their design – tulip shaped illuminated flowers – is so evocative of my childhood Christmases that I’ll only lose it when every one of the 200 spare bulbs I managed to get for it run out . Never mind about treats and sweets, lights, trees and decorations seem to making a come back, and many in the ’50s style, too.

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SHOPPING is the new religion…..just have a look at the crowds outside IKEA ten minutes before opening on any Sunday morning.

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Well, if you think I’m setting that to poetry, think again 🙂

Well, since Christmas is coming and the economy’s not exactly thriving, here’s a Hymn to the Discounters ( to the melody of Gilbert and Sullivan’s I am the very Model of a Modern Major General)

Marks and Spencer, La Redoute, John Lewis, Very, Kiddicare
And New Look, Boden, French Connection, Laura Ashley, Sofawear,
There’s Vertbaudet and Next and Gap, and M&Co is what we saw
And House of Fraser, British Thermals, Toucan Kids and then Jigsaw

There’s Fat Face, George, Crew Clothing and ubiquitous Store Twenty One
Just Dresses, Limelites, Kaper Kids and Toby Tiger one on one
There’s Trotters Childrenswear, Kids Style and finally the old Sazoo,

Old Sazoo, Old Sazoo, Hmmmm….

And Matalan with loads to do

All: And Matalan with loads to do
And Matalan with loads to do
And Matalan with loads to do and do and do and do

There’s B & M and Bargain Booze, Home Bargains if you want a snooze,
And Buyright, Poundland, Pound Man, Pound world and OD stores to help you lose
This plethora of discount stores crammed to the brim with dodgy mores
All make the very model of a modern world economy.

I would like to hear a read out of this to the tune… 🎶

Hi @patrick,
How are you doing over in Oz? Are you finding it interesting? I think they have very similar issues that we do. When do you get back?

Hi Alfa! Yes it’s very interesting working at Choice. You’re right that we do have similar issues that come up. Some of the challenges they face, we have overcome in the UK, and visa versa. It’s good to see another company working on similar issues and how they are approached.

I’m helping them specifically on building a community and growing their campaign supporter base, which is what I do at Which? (as you all know!). At the same time I’m picking up new ideas that I can bring back with me. I’ll be back in December Alfa so you’ll hopefully see more of me at more reasonable hours!

Just to comment on treats – are Lion bars still around? I used to like them

Hi Patrick – How about setting up a Choice Conversation, open to everyone. Competition is good… 🙂

Wikipedia informs me that: ‘In recent years, the Lion Bar has been dramatically reduced in size, which has caused controversy among fans.’ Presumably they want it renamed ‘Lion Cub’.

My goodness, you have excelled yourself, Ian. You have included discounters I’ve never even heard of.

Lehrer did a memorable adaptation of this Gilbert & Sullivan piece.

It was Lehrer’s that provided the inspiration, plus I’ve produced Pirates three times, the most recent being with the BBC Manchester Orchestra (now BBC Phil). The final doublet rhyme is wrong, though; I only realised reading through it some time later.

I wonder how many have heard Lehrer’s cringeworthy rendition. I like your ending but following Lehrer it would be something like: “And there may be many other [discount stores], but they haven’t been disc-o-vered”.

Yes – I briefly pondered Harrod’s as the penultimate line end, but it’s not really a discount store…

Lehrer was typically University humour, and incredibly funny. A slightly sardonic tone when performing you can only imagine what his Maths lectures must have been like. Along with Flanders and Swann, one of the greatest satirists of his age, I believe. I saw him live in New York and he brought the house down. I saw Flanders live in Bolton but his humour was mismatched to the audience, sadly.

I used to play Lehrer’s ‘Lobachevsky’ when running workshops to discourage plagiarism. Happy days.

Kevin Bright says:
6 October 2016

Our most missed Christmas treat is Callard & Bowser Nougat. A cherry and nut nougat individual wrapped in silver foil underneath which was a layer of edible rice paper and a nougat that we have been unable to find the equal of elsewhere.

Larry Vidal says:
7 October 2016

It’s simple. Bring back Cadbury ‘s Aztec bar. With its perfect blend of sweet things wrapped in milk AND plain chocolate.

Marion says:
10 October 2016

I would bring back Weekend boxes of chocolates by Rountree’s I think and also toffe and fruit Glees.


I am a member of Choice in Australia . Have their own testing facilities and you can go around these. You will see from the following that they want to engage with members and you need committed members as much as just subscribers.

They make better videos than Which? and I await the time we have Shonkys – awards for second-rate products and services etc [Shoddys in the UK]

“Voting members are the CUSTODIANS OF THE ORGANISATION [my emphasis] whose role is similar to shareholders in a for-profit company. They can vote in Board elections and on changes to the organisation’s constitution.

All voting members are invited to the Annual General Meeting, held in November, where they can put questions to the Chair, Directors, CEO and senior staff. They receive an electronic copy of the Annual Report plus a short email briefing from the Chair after each Board meeting. ”

” Engaging voting members
We also continued to grow and engage
voting members. Our call for new voting
members saw this group grow to more
than 5800. We provided a briefing to
voting members after each Board meeting
and sought their views on the priorities in
our new strategy before it was finalised.
Recognising the value of direct
engagement, we explored new ways of
involving voting members. At the 2014
Annual General Meeting, we enabled
voting members to participate via
webcast for the first time.
We also hit the road,
holding a voting
member forum in Perth in July 2014,
and following this with a forum in
Adelaide early in 2015-16. ”

In contrast the voting custodians for this UK organisation are around 6800 from 40,000 plus in the last century. And this organisation is probably at least 4 times bigger. There is no active recruitment.

The relatively recently introduced “Recommended” scheme shows 600K dollars as deferred which is up 20% from the previous year. However deffered is not an adeqaute way to judge the income actually rec’d.

The total pay for Key Personnel is not broken down other than slightly over a $1m AUS or less than we will be paying to our CEO this year in dollar terms.

Hello Patrick, I’m afraid that this comment is off-topic. Can I please request that you ensure your comments align with Community Guidelines. Thank you

@ldeitz, perhaps you would like to introduce a Convo on this topic – way Which? operates and its governance? The best place would be on the Member Community, but as this seems to exclude many Which/ subscribers and is very very underused there seems no other forum available.

I believe Patrick did mention Choice first. I thought readers might like to know more about the charity he is currently assisting.
*I’m in Australia working as a consultant at Choice. But I’ll be back before Christmas. If you have any questions about Aussie treats let me know.”

He also mentioned he might pick-up some ideas. I do hope Shonkys are on of them.

Hi Malcolm, thanks for the suggestion but I’m unsure that this would be suitable for Which? Conversation. Convo is, after all, open for all to engage with and so such a discussion would exclude non-Which? members. Like you say, this would be better suited to the member forum for Which? members to discuss.

Comments about Which?, providing they are on-topic, aren’t discouraged on Convo. But, surely you understand my concern that off-topic comments will prevent others from joining in on the discussion.

I agree, but only to some extent, Lauren. I think such a discussion should take place between all members who are interested but there is no suitable place to do this. I believe the Members Community should be the place but I understand not all Which? Members can access it. It is also very little used.

It is frustrating when there are topics that involve the way Which? works that they seem not to have a place for discussion, and they rarely – if ever – get a response from Which? Major ones involving governance and policy should be the province of the AGM or direct communication, but many other day-to-day issues deserve discussion. I have, for example, repeatedly asked if Which? have examined a suspect Indesit tumble drier, asked about misleading information on cars and energy prices for example, but no public response.

Which? does aim to reach the public in general; its activities do affect them and therefore perhaps they should be able to add their comments and suggestions.

I’m sorry we are off topic – maybe the “new Which? Conversation” is the place for this kind of general discussion. But if Which? responded more often to questions asked of it in Convos some (but not all!) of the frustration might be allayed. 🙂

Hi Malcolm, I do take your comments on board. I will ensure that more questions are answered and I’m sorry that you’ve not had responses to some of your questions. I don’t want any of you to feel like we’re not listening, but I understand that it comes across that way. We should be answering your questions and I’m sorry that we haven’t yet

Thank you Lauren. 🙂

Curry flavour Twiglets – yes special edition but need a rerun.
Extra hot Doritos.

I would need a glass of asbesto milk before my stomach lining could cope with those, Tweetiepooh.

I remember curry flavoured Twiglets about 10 years ago. They were so good, I wrote to the company and asked them to keep making them, but no luck.

You don’t know what you’re missing John 🙂

Perhaps not, Alfa, but even the regular Twiglets can be troublesome for me. The problem is that if left in a bowl at a social occasion I cannot resist them but pay for it later. They also induce additional drinking which is probably the primary intention.

My old copy of the Grocer of course lists many items which have disappeared over the decades – and many companies. fortunately there are still many companies producing sweets so no monopoly exists.

This might interest readers, though I should add the warning that it is a survey ……. and we all know how far they can be wrong.

“Whilst the charts below will demonstrate steady growth for the mature UK chocolate market, with predictions of continued growth to 2017, here are some interesting snippets:

Despite the recent focus on foods that are high in fat and sugar as contributors to the nation’s weight gain, chocolate is an ingrained part of consumers’ diets.

To future-proof the category, operators have also reduced the size of bars, as in the case of Mars’ Snickers and Mars bars and introduced lower-calorie bars, such as Maltesers’ Teasers bar. The category has also seen a boost in the share of new launches that bear an ethical claim.

Chocolate innovation has increased globally, with new product launches growing 18% between 2013 and 2014 and Europe accounting for 51% of all launches.

Just 5% never eat chocolate.

Scots are the UK’s biggest Easter chocolate lovers.

90% of Brits ate chocolate during the last three months (March 2015).

1 in 10 eat chocolate once a day or more.

28% of Brits who eat chocolate say the high sugar content makes them limit the amount they eat.

27% limit the amount they eat due to the high calorie content.

Only 25% of chocolate lovers have tried reduced sugar chocolate, however 44% would be interested in trying it in the future.

60% of chocolate eaters would be interested in trying chocolate that retains the nutrients of the cocoa bean (e.g. antioxidants).”

[mintel 2015 advertising puff for a report]]