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Sweet and Nostalgic 








Sweet and Nostalgic


Mark and Siān Dixon walked into a seaside sweetshop and fell in love with the idea of running a shop that could bring back memories of youth, both from imagery and from taste, covering the decades that would be part of people's childhood memories. In this digital age they decided to do this online. Thus, Sweet and Nostalgic was born...


Digger: A lot of people are nostalgic about sweets from their youth. How authentic are the sweets you sell?

Mark: There are quite a number of suppliers that we have our range from. Where possible, we try to stock the highest possible quality from the most reputable suppliers and the sweets are as authentic as people remember them.

Digger: Do you do the flying saucers?

Mark: We do. They're quite a popular range in our 70s retro pack. There's not many per bag but they certainly go down well and people remember them sticking to the roofs of their mouths.

Digger: You stock memorabilia. What sort of lines do you have there?

Mark: We stock a whole range of memorabilia from the Victorian era right through to the 1980s. We have tins signs, postcards, kitchen canisters, aprons, mugs with iconic images...

Digger: Do you specialise in any particular period?

Mark: No, we don't . We try to spread our range as evenly as possible across all the decades. But what we do find is that the later decades have got much more variety - the 70s and 80s - because marketing and merchandising and the variety of sweets is much, much greater. We find it's very easy to stock those ranges but as you go back to the 40s, and because of rationing, the sweets tended to be much more basic. Mint imperials, aniseed balls, coltsfoot rock and toffees. Those are the sorts of sweets that go from the Victorian era right until now.

Digger: I love chocolate and I can remember some bars that don't exist anymore, like Bar Six and the Aztec Bar.

Mark: The Aztec Bar was a very popular bar in the 70s. And the Texan bar as well.

Digger: They stop making them for some reason.

Mark: What happens is, just like Cadbury's and the takeover there, sometimes for tactical reasons they take away competition. Like Spangles - they were bought by Mars and they were discontinued in the early 80s.

Digger: They had a very definite flavour unlike anything else.

Mark: They did, and I still get a lot of people still asking for Spangles and if there was an opportunity for a confectioner to reinstate it then I'm sure they'd do very well these days too.

Digger: What gave you the inspiration for creating and what are the best things about running the business?

Mark: The inspiration came from a trip that my wife and I took to a small seaside resort near to our home. We popped into a traditional little sweet shop and we fell in love with the whole atmosphere and feeling that people were getting from seeing all the jars on the shelves.

Digger: And the smell?

Mark: Yes, and they even had music which was typical of the 1940s. And from that we said that we could do that ourselves and we decided to go and research the idea. Sweet and Nostalgic was born from that. What we saw was that not only was it the taste of the sweets but also it was the visual images from a particular decade. So we combined those two elements together so that people could get the visual memory and nostalgic images of when they were growing up with the flavours. When you put the sweets and the gift together then you get quite a unique product and that's how Sweet and Nostalgic has developed.

Digger: What do you remember from your youth?

Mark: I'm a 70s and 80s child and those two decades were really easy to set up. I remember all the sherbety sweets from the 70s, Wham Bars from the 80s and the more colourful and fizzy the products were the more attracted I was to them. Things like Space Dust and Kola Cubes. Anglo Bubbly bubblegum, they're all part of MY childhood.

Digger: I used to go over to Ireland for a month every summer for my school holidays and my gran ran a guesthouse and shop there. They had slightly different versions of some of our sweets, so they had Rovals and not Rolos. And there was also a Cadbury bar called Tiffin, which you can still get over there but not in the UK.

Mark: We do have a lot of customers from Ireland who buy from our Internet shop and we do sell our retro sweet hampers quite well over to Ireland because the Euro is so competitive these days. They get very good value for money when they buy from us across the water. But the products they buy tend to be the things that we know.

Digger: Which sweets have proved the most difficult to source?

Mark: We have a wide network of suppliers across the whole of the UK so we have eight or nine suppliers and it's a case of digging deep and researching for them and getting leads. But when you can bring all of the products together they do create quite a nostalgic mix and a unique product. The most difficult to get hold of is coltsfoot rock - unfortunately the company that made them went bankrupt and are just trying to reestablish themselves so there's a great scarcity of the rock. A great northern sweet. But most products are there but it's the volume that you need to get.

Digger: What seems to be the most popular era for your nostalgic products? 

Mark: It depends on your age. Obviously with our sweet packs we span all the way from the 1940s to the 1980s, so when there's a birthday coming up it depends on your age. We find with our evening parties the 60s and 70s go really well, if we do a traditional or retro fair then the 40s and 50s go well. But online I'd say our bestseller is our 70s sweet pack which contains chocolate sticks (we're not allowed to say chocolate cigarettes anymore!), sherbet pips, traffic light lollipops, golden nugget bubblegum, flying saucers and multi-coloured sherbet as well. 

Digger: I remember all of those.  What can we expect from in 2010 and beyond?

Mark: Well, has now been in business for around 18 months and we are growing very fast online. We intend to expand out into fairs, evening party planning, business to business, corporate work and supplying gift shops. There's a very big remit to our growth strategy and we expect to become a lot bigger than what we are and intend to become one of the biggest nostalgic sweet suppliers in the UK.

Digger: The retro market is huge isn't it and it still surprises me how many businesses there are making a good living out of retro and nostalgia in all its forms.

Mark: Yes, definitely. And the way that we've created our niche in the market is by linking sweets and the memorabilia together and we find that more and more suppliers are bringing back old brands that recreate the past and that feelgood factor. And that goes not just from the early 1900s but we now see toys from the 70s and 80s coming back. As well as hard to find sweets. The Wispa Bar has just come back after being massive in the 80s and that's now become common in the noughties and now in 2010.

Digger: They try new flavours of Kit Kat and Wispa.

Mark: They're never as good as the original. The original is always best. We try to stick to the original brand because sometimes choice is too confusing and people sometimes like their basics. People always come back to the original because that's the flavour and the taste that they grew up on. I know many people who buy our products have memories of particular sweets and the wonderful thing about selling our product is you tend not just to hand over money but you also hand over stories. People's memories - for example one person came up to us at a fair and said "I'm a Doodlebug baby, you don't remember that do you?" And I said "Yes, it's a bomb isn't it?" and they said that they were born in an air raid shelter in The Blitz. And she told me this as she was buying a bag of aniseed balls. Wouldn't be able to do that with a duvet would you? That's the great thing - we get so much pleasure from selling the products because people get so much pleasure in buying it and the memories that they evoke. 

Digger: When you mentioned Spangles that brought back memories for me.

Mark: Spangles were the 50s, weren't they? We have lots of postcards with Spangles on and they remind me of the 50s even though I wasn't born then.

Digger: I also loved Opal Fruits and Opal Mints.

Mark: I remember the mint versions as Pacers.

Digger: People say what is the difference between Treats and M and Ms and I say "Don't you have any taste buds?" My girlfriend's daughter is great because she can appreciate the difference between different sweets and chocolate, as I can, and understands when I say "I'm in an Aero mood" or "I really fancy a bar of Whole Nut." So, if I'd like to try some of your sweets, what is the best 'starter pack' to choose?

Mark: We do a retro sweet hamper which you can design yourself. You can choose from a variety of sweets and our gift packs to go into a wicker hamper so whichever mood or need you have you can try it. That's the best way to appreciate what we have to offer in our range, but as mentioned it really depends on your age. Not necessarily when you were born but when you were growing up. So we cover the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s and we're toying with the idea of creating a 90s pack. The variety is quite wide and we're trying to isolate some sweets that would be typical from that decade.

Digger: What about people from abroad? You must get American's who are into Hershey Bars or Australians who are into their versions of sweets? 

Mark: We find most of our international sales are ex-pats and their nostalgic memories are even stronger than those living in the UK, so they get very excited when they see the ranges. Because the images are so much stronger because they're so much further away. And we do supply across the whole of the globe and the rates are quite reasonable for sending international orders.

Digger: Excellent.  Well thank you Mark and best of luck with your expansion plans.

Mark: Thanks David. And to you.



Contact Details:

Sweet and Nostalgic
21 Esplanade Avenue
Mid Glamorgan
South Wales
CF36 3YS.

Tel: 07999 520 881


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Sweet and Nostalgic 







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