Wednesday, 11 October 2006

TALKING TOFFEE (TINS)

Zipping round my local Co-op the other day, I spotted this week's Special Offer: one those BIG TINS of Quality Street at a pre-Christmas knock-down price of £3.00... I stopped in my tracks as a mass of memories came flooding back...

Now, I hate to speak ill of the dead, but my paternal grandmother was not the most generous of souls. Every Christmas she would buy a tin of Quality Street Toffees and after Christmas lunch and after the Queen's speech and after she and Grandfather had had their nap, but before tea, there was always the Ceremony of the Toffees...

The tin would be brought out, opened and passed around --- ONCE and ONCE ONLY! Then the lid went back on went and the tin went back into the cupboard!

I suppose the rest of the contents must have been consumed by someone - my grandmother, perhaps - at some time or other in the following twelve months or maybe it was always the same tin, but I honestly only ever remember seeing it on the afternoon of December 25th!

As a result, I would plan - in the months leading up to Christmas - which of the Quality Street assortment I would go for, so as not to dither on the day and inadvertently end up with the thin, gold-coloured, stick-like variety which may have been cracknell. Instead, I'd hope to grab one of the green chocolatey triangles or, better still, the purple nutty one!

Anyway, one Christmas, an elderly neighbour gave me my very own tin of Quality Street and, although I haven't seen it in years, I stumbled across the very one - or, at least, a near relative - the other day while poking around in The Tin Shop.


Fortunately, however, I was too late to buy it --- nostalgia can make one so very careless with the pennies!

Anyway, it was probably one of the first decorated tins I ever owned and - if the web-sites I've been browsing on are anything to go by - would have been worth hanging onto! Also sadly gone (or rusting away somewhere in the attic) are several other tins including one featuring Larry the Lamb and Denis the Dachshund...

Although I've always loved (and half-heartedly collected) decorated tins, I make no secret of the fact that my real weakness is shaped decorated tins which are, without question, the best of the lot!

A couple of Christmasses ago, our friend Mandy gave us this Hershy's van full of their famously yummy chocolate 'kisses' which, as any American refugee in the UK will know, are normally pretty much impossible to find in Britain.


The 'kisses', of course, have long ago been lip-smackingly dealt with, but the van remains - waiting for news of fresh deliveries to arrive on our shore: at which point the driver (who, at the moment, looks as if he's taking a nap) will whiz off with all speed and pick up a new supply!

10 comments:

David Weeks said...

I had, and somewhere there are still, some of those wonderful OXO tins. There were very red and very square, with a lid that fitted perfectly and ideal for storing bits and pieces, like magic tricks and gizzmos that magicians collect in their youth, never to see the light of day again, in front of an audience. The inside was very bright and best of all they would stack without wasted space at all; always a serious consideration when the space in the toy cupboard was at such a premium.

Diva of Deception said...

I'll be searching the shelves to help that poor tired driver on hsi quest to refill his van with the right type of merchandise.

Failing that, there's bound to be a new tin to buy just around the corner and who knows what shape it may take this time....

The strangest thing -after visiting the magic club in Phoenix, Arizona a couple of years ago its president (the club, not Arizona) emailed to say he was trying to find particular English toffees from a particular manufacturer which he'd found on a visit to London.
I did an internet search and was amazed to find these were available in shaped London souvenir tins - just a veritable hop and skp from my home! They didn't normally sell to the public but did me a favour and let me have several of their best to send to the US. Obviously I kept one for my own delectation...

Cafrine said...

Wow, they sure don't make 'em like that anymore. I don't remember ever seeing one of these tins. Our Quality Street comes in a quality cardboard box with see through celophane top. Which, incidentally, makes the planning of the picking much more easy, if you happen to get the chacne to see the box before it's offered. Of course, I still always end up with some peanut toffee monstrosity, but thems the breaks.

Brian Sibley said...

CARDBOARD TINS??

We do things PROPERLY here, Cafrine! ;-)

Still, the see-through top DOES sound a very useful innovation that would helped my youthful Christmasses immensely!

Scrooge said...

In the days where we kept and reused everything, my mum had a tin from that same era as a sewing box for many years. The lady in purple and the soldier were present on that one also. My own favourites were always the Fox's biscuit tins at Christmas - adorned with a suitably festive scene. I kept one with my pencils in for about 25 years until it became battered. It showed a very seasonal 'Christmas at Dingley Dell' on the top and the illustrations were full colour and in the Victorian style.

Brian Sibley said...

'Christmas at Dingly Dell'?

But, Mr Scrooge, that's from THE PICKWICK PAPERS...

You seriously mean to tell me that you didn't have one depicting the Fezziwig's Ball from A CHRISTMAS CAROL?Appalling!

Jonathan said...

Have you ever come accross the tin a disgruntled employee painted a fornicating couple into the background design?

Brian Sibley said...

Unfortunately not, Jonathan... I wish I HAD, the alst one sold at auction went for £423!

The tin - known as 'The Disgruntled Employee Biscuit Tin' - was made by Huntley & Palmers for Tesco in the 1970s, and was decorated with a sub-Kate-Greenaway illustration of a Victorian tea-party in a country cottage garden. In the background - hardly discernible - are the naked limbs of a couple presumably frolicking in the foliage!

The story is that an employee who was angry at being fired added the last-minute embellishment to the design resulting in Tesco declining an order for 5,000 tins...

You can read the story - and see the tin (but not the rude detail!) - here.

Scrooge said...

There wasn't a tin for 'A Christmas Carol'. We couldn't agree image rights !

Brian Sibley said...

Of course!

I've found several listed on ebay but they've all been sold, so the images only exist as thumbs which are so tiny you really can't see what image they settled on...