Sweet shops (confectioners) in the early 20th century
By the webmaster’s mother, 1906-2002 based on her experiences as a child in north London
Early 1900s sweet shops and shopkeepers
The corner sweet shop was near Silver Street School and sold triangular bags of broken wafer biscuits with a marshmallow fish on top.
There was also another corner sweet shop which always had a large tray of home-made toffee on the counter. The shopkeeper would break it up with a small hammer and what looked like a pair of scissors.
Sweet shops sold all kinds of children's sweets - bull's eyes, pear drops, humbugs, liquorice sticks, etc - many of which can be seen by clicking the above photo for an enlargement.
The sweet shop also sold tiger nuts. We children particularly liked the tiger nuts because they were so sweet, but they often had insects and grit in them. Surprisingly we never minded the insects at the time, but the grit could give teeth a nasty jar.
In the 1950s my father suddenly announced that he hadn't seen tiger nuts for ages and as he had liked them so much as a boy, he was going to try to track some down. When he did he came back and told us all how horrible they were and how he couldn't imagine how he had ever liked them.
The commercially produced sweets came in large, well labelled jars and were weighed out to customer's requirements. We children normally bought an ounce at a time and occasionally, if we could afford it, 2 ounces. We never bought chocolate. It wasn't around much if at all.