Do Aussie schools still hold those  old-fashioned  fund raising tuck shops with  the lollies (sweets) homemade by parents?  Perhaps they don’t, as in retrospect the goodies on offer were  all pure sugar.


A young man called Edmund Verney  had  a  tuckbox  prepared by his mother when he  went up to Oxford in 1685.  Edmund’s box of goodies included  exotic fruits, but also enough sugar  to rot every tooth in his head;

Eighteen seville oranges, six malaga lemons, one lb of pick’t Raisons, four Nuttmegs, three lb brown sugar, one lb white powdered sugar, one lb of brown sugar candy and ¼ lb of white sugar candy.’

Schoolboys have been following Edmund’s dubious  example ever since, although the English public school tuckboxes   came under threat in 1925. A Dr Campbell condemned jams, sweets, pastries and ‘the pernicious puddings’. that arrived in hampers from indulgent parents. He also wanted to ban school tuck shops, quoting  the case of one particular small boy. The child had received a sovereign from home and spent the entire sum on tins of condensed milk. I can’t say that I blame him. When I wrote an article on condensed milk it became clear that we all adored it. Tribute to condensed milk.

Here in Australia, school tuck shops raised funds to provide comfort packages for servicemen during the two Word Wars.


In  1947  the Brisbane  Courier Mail published a letter from a concerned aunt;

‘My sister’s little boy, barely five, has recently commenced school, and already he is worrying her for pennies to spend at the tuck shop. The highly coloured, unwholesome mixtures sold there are detrimental to his growth and rob him of his appetite for his carefully prepared lunch. He has told her that it has been eaten by a  dog.

Recently temptation was too great and he spent his bus money. Consequently he was obliged to walk a long way home, which was no punishment to him because he found much to amuse him along the way.  But he lost his shoes and socks, which  cost his mother hours of tramping with a babe in arms and 17/6d.’

Presumably the little fellow’s  shoes and socks were never found and had to be replaced.

There are certain  tuck shop favourites that simply never lose their appeal;  homemade fudge, toffee apples, snowballs, milk arrowroot ‘faces’ to name a few.

choc snowballs for the tuck shop.

Pink and white Coconut Ice has particular resonance in my family.    My oldest brother was in infant school in the 1940’s and he arrived home one day telling Mum  there had been a tuck shop.  No doubt the children  had been advance warning, but Kenny did not appear to have taken it in;   ‘ All the other kids bought lollies, but I didn’t have any money’,  he said bravely.   Poor Mum  felt terrible;  ‘Oh dear, that’s dreadful Kenny,  you  should have told me there was going to be one.’    Yes, Kenny  said, ‘ They had snowballs, and toffees, …….and do you know what  Mum?  (bursting into tears) They had pink and white lollies!’

Tuck shop favourite Coconut ice
Missing out on this iconic delight reduced my poor brother to tears.

My own favourite were those rock hard toffees in paper patty pans. They lasted for hours.

Hard toffee in patty pans, the tuck shop best seller.

Surely these were the best value for pocket money.

We used to make the hard toffees from a recipe in the CWA cookery book.

Recipe for hard  toffee, a best seller at the tuck shop.

Chocolate Crackles always made an appearance in my childhood.  Someone once joked that Copha was invented by the makers of Kellogs rice bubbles for the express purpose of making  ‘crackles’.  Well have you ever used it for anything else??

Chocolate crackles were popular at every tuck shop in Australia.

Here is an account  from the Katoomba Daily (1938) of a school tuck shop  held here in the Blue Mountains.

Old fashioned tuck shop in the Blue Mountains.

Bravo Mrs Bentley. And yes, I still enjoy a toffee apple. Not the most dignified thing to eat I confess..

A staple of the tuck shop.
Never too old.


  1. Ah, lots of memories here. I don’t think my old teeth would be up to sampling most of this fare these days!

  2. At North Sydney Demonstration School in the 1960’s we had the “Oslo” not tuck shop. Well ahead of its time. Healthy sandwiches and fruit juice. The Oslo was meant to conjure up Scandinavian well being.

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