Writing a piece set in Coventry in the early 1920s was guaranteed to need thorough research into the history of the city, but I didn’t realise it would also lead me to researching confectionery from that time period too.
After a lot of reading I’ve discovered that this particular decade gave us many sweets we still enjoy today including; Fruit Salads, Black Jacks, the Cadbury’s Flake, Sherbet Fountains and the classic Fruit and Nut bar.
I’ve also learnt about the rather unusual history of Jelly Babies, alleged to have been invented back in 1864 when a badly made jelly bear mould resulted in confections that looked more like toddlers and so was christened with the unlikely name, ‘Unclaimed Babies’. Although this sounds like a terrible marketing move now, historians assure us that back in Victorian times it wouldn’t even have raised an eyebrow:
“Unclaimed babies were a part of life back then – people would leave them on church steps and it’s possible that people even found the name amusing,”
Tim Richardson, Sweets: A History Of Temptation.
There’s much discussion around Unclaimed Babies becoming ‘Peace Babies’ in the 1920s, possibly to celebrate the end of World War One, and there are certainly images of Victorian packaging showing ‘Victory Babies’, along with adverts listing “dollies” and “totties” for sale.
Whatever you like to call them, I’m sure you can guess what I’m now wishing I had in the cupboard 🙂
Resources to thank: