The Fiver: The Candyman Can – Top Five Most Scrumptious British Sweets

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

jelly-babies-lineup

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 Bassett’s originally made Jelly Babies as “Peace Babies” to mark the end of World War I and production was suspended during World War II due to wartime shortages.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

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.

3. Smarties

smarties

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 Originally made by Rowntrees in York as “Smarties Chocolate Beans”, Nestle took control when the company went public in 1987.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

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

cadbury-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!


Comments

  1. avatarBrittany says

    I have heard of Jelly Babies, Mars Bars, and Wine Gums. I have never had any of them, or even seen them. I probably wouldn’t eat the Wine Gums and Jelly Babies, though, because of gelatin.

    I have had Cadbury Crème Eggs. Those things are good.

  2. avatarPenny says

    Do you eat your jelly babies head first, feet first or just pop them in your mouth? Love Mars bars, Galaxy Caramel and Moro is a good un too! Rowntrees pastilles in my pocket don’t last too long, and how about a Crunchie or Flake. So many to choose from!

  3. avatarLauren says

    I think I expected too much from Smarties and I wasn’t that impressed when I tried them; they’re basically giant M&Ms except the chocolate is better. I think there was just too much candy coating for me. I also felt very betrayed by the Cadbury Flake bar, as I thought it was going to be something delicious and crunchy similar to a Violet Crumble but it really was just flaky chocolate.

    I am quite partial to Aero bars (especially the mint ones,) and the blackcurrant Fruit Pastilles .

    • avatarPenny says

      The Crunchie is similar to the Violet Crumble and is excellent! Unfortunately we were told that Rowntrees no longer makes the rolls of just blackcurrant pastilles – such a pity!

  4. avatarAngela says

    They don’t even make these anymore, but my very favorite was Wispa Mint. Anything Cadbury will do though, really. Especially Fruit and Nut.

  5. avatarEmma says

    When I went to England, I practically stuffed my suitcase full of Wine Gums to take home. I spent my last £15 on like eight bags just for the plane trip. They’re just so good.
    Why aren’t more things in America Blackcurrant flavored? It’s definitely my favorite flavor out of all of them. And they have such a good consistency, so much better than gummi bears.
    Jelly Babies are also one of my favorites… So grateful to have a British food shop nearby run by my grandmother. It has certain perks.

  6. avatarJohn Rudolph says

    Ranked in order of importance:

    1. Fry’s Turkish Delight
    2. Fry’s Turkish Delight
    3. Fry’s Turkish Delight
    4. Cadbury Flake
    5. Maynard’s Wine Gums

    • avatarDebbie says

      I’m with you John….Turkish delight my absolute fav! Jelly babies next fav! Bite the heads off first! Toffee crisp, Picnic and double deckers are pretty good too!

  7. avatarLaura says

    “Smarties” (I don’t know if they still make this version) in the US and Canada were a pastel-colored powdered sugar slightly acidic candy about the size of aspirin tablets and packaged as a stack/tube in clear cellophane. Wonder if they had a common origin with the Nestles Smarties here. I’ve heard that M&Ms were originally packaged in a tube like the UK Smarties. Wonder if M&Ms in their original form were closer to what UK Smarties are in the present day?

    • avatarMegan says

      In Canada our Smarties are like the British version. The Smarties from the states are like a candy we call Rockets.

  8. avatarshelly says

    I love Star Bars and Thorton’s caramels! When my suitcase goes thru the scanner upon my departure I am sure the staff think I am crazy. It’s always full of Minstrels, wine gums, Aero bars, Cadbury bars and shortbread.

  9. avatarGarry Jantzen says

    M&Ms are Hershey’s answer to (originally) Rowntree’s Smarties. In the official Hershey history, he relates seeing Smarties in London on a visit then returning with them to PA and asking his confectioners to replicate them.

  10. avatarMarcy J says

    Wine gums are the best. Can’t find them fresh here-they’re usually hard as a rock :(

    No one has mentioned the Cadbury Turkish Delight bar. I hoard those. I brought home two of the big ones from our last trip and husband ate both of them. I was saving them for..I don’t know what, just saving. The Fruit and Nut bar is good too-the ones made for the US market don’t taste the same.

  11. avatar says

    I have loved licorice allsorts all my life, and was soooo happy to buy them in London the firts time we visited there back in November, 2003. While we lived in Pennsylvania, the Hershey company produced, under license, Bassett’s Licorice Allsorts. But, sadly, they don’t make it across the country here in California. The Hershey production facility in Oakdale, California, closed in the last decade, after heading down to, I believe, Mexico. One of my dreams is to tour the English facilities and watch my favorite candy being made.

  12. avatarGloria Stokely says

    Sherbet – I miss it so as do I miss Crunchie, Flake & Smarties. i used to be able to get the latter three at the World Market, but they no longer can get them. I was told it was something about shipping issues. Pastels are good too as are the Jelly Babies. British sweets are just so much better than American.

      • avatarSandra says

        Actually just had a sherbet fountain yesterday. I live in Canada but am originally from York, England. Original home to Rowntree’s (Nestle) and Terrys’ (of chocolate orange and Bourneville dark chocolate fame…). So many favourites; did you know that when Rowntree’s made smarties for the arab nations there were no red ones….and of course there’s the Kit-Kat too and Polo mints (all were made at York) along with Black Magic chocolates. The chocolates used to be decorated by hand and this part of the factory was across the street from the main production facility. Carts of handmade chocolates were seen being pushed across the road by employees…. Story was that if you got a job at Rowntrees you were allowed to eat as much chocolate as you wanted because for sure you’d make yourself sick of it !!! Something I remember would be driving past Rowntrees and you could smell the chocolate or the mint…..and there was an employees “shop” where they could purchase amounts of “B grade” chocolate….
        Other faves would have to be Curly Wurly, (finger of) Cadburys Fudge, Walnut Whip, Jelly Babies, yes Rowntrees pastilles. Fortunately I still have access to these and my kids get English selection packs (combinations of mini bars shrink wrapped for Xmas) from their English Nana who sends “emergency aid rations” !!

  13. avatar says

    Love Hearts! Nothing better than giving the kids a small packet of Love Hearts and reading them the sweet messages before they eat them. Very British sweets that have been around for a long time.

  14. avatar says

    Ahh, Jelly Babies! Strangely, I never used to eat them when I lived in England, but now they are a scarce and revered delicacy. I’m horrified to find I can cheerfully get through a bag a day when I visit Blighty.
    My husband usually asks for Galaxy or Flakes, maybe a Yorkie for old time’s sake.

  15. avatarMike says

    Lion bars are my top. Orange chocolate of most sorts are a close second. Double Decker bars are also really good.

  16. avatarRobin says

    Mars Bars were always a fave growing up in England. Frys Chocolate Cream bars were also favourites. I always preferred fruit pastilles to the gums which I thought too hard.Also mad about Cadburys Fruit and Nut. My dad had a friend who worked at Bournville in the Cadbury factory. He was some sort of supervisor and we always got brown bags full of “seconds” when we lived nearby in Birmingham. My mum liked Turkish Delight but it was considered a grown up sweetie by us kids. Mum wouldn’t let us have any you see! My sister loved dolly mixtures oh and she used to stick her tongue down the centre of a Crunchie bar until she had hollowed it out! I never had the patience and mine was crunched down in no time!

  17. avatarDonna Henthorn says

    Twirl. Is now my favorite, along with aero and flakes. What happen to Macintosh toffees…….. Loved them!!

  18. avatar says

    Cadbury creme eggs. I wonder how many people know this little tidbit of a fact – Jeremy Brett’s mother was a Cadbury of the Cadbury Chocolate empire. (Jeremy Brett was the TV Sherlock Holmes of the 1980s and 1990s).

  19. avatar'Tricia Marshall says

    I used to love to buy Sherbert Balls…some pink, some white. Mmmmmm….delicious. However,don’t think they are even available in England any more….so sad. My Grandchildren would love to come to any British shop with me (I am in Alberta, Canada) as they would tell people. “You’ve got to see my Nan in the English shop….she goes CRAZY!!!!! They were, and still are, absolutely correct.

  20. avatarMani says

    Wisps bars, brought back by popular demand recently, are great. I’m still in mourning for Spira bars too…. And yes to Turkish delight :)

  21. avatar says

    Actually, Mars bars aren’t discontinued in the US. We can get them anywhere and I just saw them yesterday. For the Cadbury eggs, we have both the full size ones and the smaller ones.

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