Everyone loves a bit of candy and today there are plenty of options when you go to the shops. The word “candy” came to English from an Old French word, though in the United Kingdom they are typically known as “sweets” and come in a variety of options, from various forms of chocolate to fruit flavors. Several companies makes up the majority of favorite British sweets, including: Mars, Bassett’s, Cadbury, and Nestle. The number of available sweets in Britain is ridiculous an I was only able to choose five, but you can easily find other brands on online stores.
1. Jelly Babies
Fans of Doctor Who will be familiar with this uniquely British sweet, a favorite of the Fourth Doctor who would often offer it to friends and enemies alike. Bassett’s originally made Jelly Babies as “Peace Babies” to mark the end of World War I and production was suspended during World War II due to wartime shortages. The “Jelly Babies” name began in 1953 and have different names associated with their flavors: Brillian (red – strawberry), Bubbles (yellow – lemon), Baby Bonny (pink – raspberry), Boofuls (green – lime), Bigheart (purple – blackcurrant) and Bumper (orange). In the early days of the Beatles, the band would often get pelted with them as it was known that George Harrison enjoyed eating them, and their popularity increased with their use in Doctor Who.
2. Mars Bar
Growing out of the Mars Candy Company, Frank C. Mars’ son Forrest opened a factory in Slough to produce a chocolate bar that was sweeter than his father’s Milky Way bars, also consisting of caramel and nougat covered in milk chocolate. The candy bar was first offered in 1932 and continues to be made available in Europe and other parts of the world today. A version of the Mars bar existed in the United States, but was discontinued in 2002, brought back in 2010, and then discontinued again in 2011. Perhaps the most famous use of the Mars bar is in Scotland, where chippy shops sell a fried version as a novelty item.
Nestle’s answer to M&M’s, they are uniquely identifiable by their tube packaging. Like M&M’s they are chocolate pieces that come in a variety of colors including red, yellow, orange, green, blue, violet, pink, and brown. Originally made by Rowntrees in York as “Smarties Chocolate Beans”, Nestle took control when the company went public in 1987. Besides their tube, Smarties can also be found in a bar and chocolate egg form that contain bits of Smarties. Around Christmas, Nestle releases a version that comes in red, green, and white colors. Since the cessation of production in York, Smarties are now made in Germany.
4. Wine Gums
Similar to gum drops but without the sugar coating, they are made from gelatin and come in five shapes: kidney, crown, diamond, circle, and rectangle labeled with the names port, sherry, champagne, burgundy, claret, and gin. Not actually containing any wine flavors, the name comes from creator Charles Riley Maynard’s attempt to market the sweets as a means to cut down on alcohol consumption. Another story says that Maynard derived the name because he felt that the sweets should be enjoyed like a fine wine. Besides Maynard’s, Bassett’s and Waterbridge also make wine gums and flavors can vary with the red being red berry, strawberry, raspberry, or cherry, black as black currant, orange, lemon, and lime.
5. Cadbury Crème Eggs
A staple of Easter sweets, Cadbury began manufacturing the eggs in 1923 and started producing them in their current form in 1963. The sweets comprise an egg-shaped outer chocolate shell with a fondant crème center to mimic the yolk. Traditionally sold between New Year’s Day and Easter, Cadbury attempted to sell the eggs year-round, but eventually returned to the traditional availability dates. In the United States, the eggs’ size has decreased in recent years, though they remain 39 grams in the United Kingdom. Annual sales in Britain are over 200 million and are manufactured in the Birmingham Cadbury factory at a rate of 1.5 million per day.
What’s your favorite British sweet? Let us know in the comments!