Whether you’re a 70ties, 80ties or 90ties kid, we all knew these popular sweets growing up. Before we’d discovered that colourants and artificial ingredients in the E-range were dangerous, South African sweets were a wild flavour sensation for kids of all ages. Nothing takes you back to childhood faster than the sweets you loved as a child. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and reminisce over the tastes and textures of our favourite old South African sweets, chocs and sugary treats from our childhoods.
Ultimate Old South African Sweets List:
Chappies: Did you know? Chappies will always be on our list! Before there was Siri and Alexa, there was only Chappies and most of our childhood general knowledge came from what we read off the inside of the Chappies paper.
Gobstoppers or JawBreakers: The most fitting name of all. Colour-changing rainbow sweets that started as black and progressed to white, the longer you sucked on them. They’d last for hours, give you a sore jaw and you’d excitedly take them out of your mouth every few minutes to check if their colour had changed yet.
Nut Puffs: It seems nut allergies were not as much of a thing in the 80s or 90s, but Nut Puffs would never fly at a kids’ party these days! Crunchy and filled with a buttery, gooey peanut centre – these sweets were everyone’s favourite.
Sugus: Everyone had a favourite colour, and if it wasn’t purple, you were missing out. Purple was grape, yellow was lemon, pink was strawberry and green was lime – a fruity rainbow of chewy, fruity flavours. These were a staple at kids parties.
Maynards Sour Balls: So ridiculously sour that they made your tongue curl just thinking about eating them, but that never stopped us from going back for another…and another…and another!
Marshmallow Fish: Sensationally soft white sugar powder combined with fluffy marshmallow and its cute, squishy shape? The stuff childhood is made of.
Fizzers: Nothing beats the original pink flavour, but the green one is pretty close. Fizzers are now available in a range of insane flavours (including sour variations and dual-flavour combinations). They still go down just as well at parties today as they did 20-30 years ago.
Wilson Toffees: The original black toffee – the reason for your chipped tooth. Many dental emergencies have been caused by these tough chews over the decades. Now available in cola, cherry, buttermilk and banana flavour variations.
Iced Zoo Biscuits: Is it a bird? Is it a bear? No, it is a bokkie! Although you can barely tell these days what the iced animals are, there’s still only one way to eat a Zoo biscuit: lick the icing off the top, and then the biscuit around the edge and off the back, after which you could crunch down on the coloured icing that’s left.
Jelly Beans: These sweets are fruity, gummy and chewy, and bursting with flavour. Although not South African they were invented in 1861 by Boston confectioner William Schrafft, and they’re now enjoyed all over the world.
Liquorice Allsorts: With an assortment of colours and flavours and textures, Liquorice Allsorts have long been a South African favourite. Used to decorate cakes and cupcakes, it’s great fun peeling apart the layers of these sweets and enjoying the flavour of each piece. Which is your favourite? Did you like the weird blue one with the squishy centre or did you prefer the dark, chocolate-flavoured liquorice sandwich?
Love Hearts: These retro mini sweets with stamped sentiments within a ‘love heart’. These always did the rounds at school over the Valentine’s Day season. Big Love.
Milk Bottles: The pastel coloured milk bottle shaped sweets are sometimes called milk gums and are as popular today, as they were when we were kids. The taste hasn’t changed at all!
Sherbet Dust Straws: These were sold at school tuck shops and corner cafes, and were great fun for sharing with friends, although you had to keep a pair of scissors handy to snip off the end as it inevitably got soggy and the sherbet stopped flowing.
Rolos: Did you love anyone enough to give them your last Rolo? Never! Rolos weren’t meant for sharing. Instead, you’re supposed to scoff down a whole roll on your own and enjoy the last gooey centre all by yourself.
Choc Stix: Chocolate covered pretzel sticks. Slightly salty, crispy pretzels, sweet milk chocolate. Need we say more?
Quality Street chocolates: These came out over Christmas, if you were having family or fancy guests around. Children hovered to pinch these from the glass bowl in the middle of the coffee table, darting out of sight to enjoy their pilfered treasures.
Chomp: What is it about Chomp that has kept kids coming back for more over the decades? The artificial feel of the chocolate-like covering, the crisp wafer and the cheerful hippo on the wrapper? Or is it the slightly peanut buttery taste? It’s probably the fact that it’s possible to eat 20-30 of them without feeling full.
Dirkie condensed milk: Who didn’t like whipping out a tube of Dirkie? Available in an assortment of flavours. Still a thing today, but the packaging has kept up with the times.
Old South African sweet reminiscences…
Now that we’re all sitting in a puddle of drool thinking about our favourite old South African sweets from the 70s, 80s and 90s, which was your favourite childhood treat that we haven’t mentioned on our list?
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What happened to LLC gums. It tasted like the smell of Webcol swabs that a doctor uses before he gives you an injection?
Great list.. but Dirkie… the ones we had in 1976 were PIKKIE… pyramid shaped mini condensed milk container with a foil bit you peeled off and sucked the living daylights out of it.
What were those horrible little stompie tube pink sweets called?