Chewing over the sweet memories of lolly-love
SWEET chewy white milk bottles, long pink musk sticks with their peculiar scent, round red raspberries, small fresh green sugared leaves, curved yellow bananas, Choo Choo bars, cobbers, snakes, red and green frogs and even a pair of gum pink and white dentures.
Lolly-love, a generation of baby-boomers knew the feeling and so did their parents, and their parents' parents.
Who remembers scurrying down to the corner shop holding tight to a threepence or a sixpence, willing only to exchange the precious coin for a white paper bag full of lollies?
And afterwards, that magic moment when you and your friend had found a quiet place to huddle down and, without a murmur, taste the magnificent fruits of your labour.
Now baby boomers can claim a lot of firsts. But lolly eating isn't one of them.
In fact, history books assign the origin of lollies right back to the caveman who apparently, just like us, enjoyed a sweet treat. But for them, it came in the more natural state of fresh honeycomb.
And then there were the Egyptians who cranked it up a notch by combining fruits and nuts with honey. It is also said that lollies, produced from sugar cane, had their origins in ancient India, where pieces of sugar were produced by boiling sugar cane juice.
It seems lollies were an instant success wherever they travelled. But in many countries, their creation was expensive and time-consuming, which classed them as a little bit special and it was only the privileged who could indulge in lolly-love.
But come the Industrial Revolution with its technological advances and there began the mechanical process of mass production. Now too, the impoverished lolly-less masses could share in the sugary delights.
So exactly what were these technological advances that saw a whole generation indulge in a massive amount of confectionery.
A little Google research revealed the name of Ipswich (Qld) and the name of a Lolly manufacturer (George Treagle) who opened a factory around 1900 in Bell St and according to most accounts ran a thriving business.
Records from the Ipswich library give us an idea of how our lollies were made in the factory.
"A machine powered by a steam engine would grind the sugar into icing sugar before it was mixed with other ingredients. Often lolly mixtures were put through rolling machines to flatten and then they were cut into shapes.”
To make boiled lollies all the ingredients like sugar and glucose had to be melted first. "Sugar boilers" as they were called, would boil the ingredients in copper vats or tubs.
How long the mixture was boiled for indicated the final texture of the lolly. Hot temperatures made a hard lolly and medium heat made a soft lolly.
The mixture was then tipped out onto steel benches to stiffen and cool. When ready, the mixture was cut into straps and pulled over hooks on the wall.
Hand cutters were used to cut the lengths into small pieces ready for sale.
Treagles made everything in the way of confectionery from boiled lollies to chocolates and became very popular due to the high quality of the sweets. The Treagle brand of icing sugar was one of the best sellers.
That Ipswich business is long gone, but not so the sweet lollies of our past. There's plenty still around - but for some of us, unfortunately, our teeth mightn't be up for the chewing!