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 BRIEF HISTORY
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.
PENNIES FOR THE TUCK SHOP
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.
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!’
My own favourite were those rock hard toffees in paper patty pans. They lasted for hours.
Surely these were the best value for pocket money.
We used to make the hard toffees from a recipe in the CWA cookery book.
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??
Here is an account from the Katoomba Daily (1938) of a school tuck shop held here in the Blue Mountains.
Bravo Mrs Bentley. And yes, I still enjoy a toffee apple. Not the most dignified thing to eat I confess..
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