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
Digger: A lot of people are nostalgic about sweets from their youth.
How authentic are the sweets you sell?
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.
Do you do the flying saucers?
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.
You stock memorabilia. What sort of lines do you have there?
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...
Do you specialise in any particular period?
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
I love chocolate and I can remember some bars that don't exist
anymore, like Bar Six and the Aztec Bar.
The Aztec Bar was a very popular bar in the 70s. And the Texan bar
They stop making them for some reason.
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.
They had a very definite flavour unlike anything else.
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
www.sweetandnostalgic.co.uk and what are the best things about
running the business?
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.
And the smell?
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
What do you remember from your youth?
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
I remember all of those.
What can we expect from www.sweetandnostalgic.co.uk
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.
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.
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.
They try new flavours of Kit Kat and Wispa.
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.
When you mentioned Spangles that brought back memories for me.
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
I also loved Opal Fruits and Opal Mints.
I remember the mint versions as Pacers.
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?
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.
What about people from abroad? You must get American's who are into
Hershey Bars or Australians who are into their versions of
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.
Excellent. Well thank you Mark and best of luck with your
Thanks David. And to you.
Sweet and Nostalgic
21 Esplanade Avenue
Tel: 07999 520 881
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