Paddle Pop Days

There are certain things I miss quite a lot.

One of them is the decline of the iconic Aussie Corner Shop.

You used to find at least a good half dozen of them in every suburb, perched on street corners, selling everything from newspapers to piping hot Big Ben meat pies.

In those days there were two types of sauce in enormous squeeze bottles kept on the counter. Tomato and Barbecue. You could squeeze as much as you wanted onto your pie and no one batted an eyelid. If the shopkeeper wasn’t looking you could do the combo squeeze where both flavours of sauce were squirted and combined. A pie eater’s dream.

The old corner shops looked something like this.

You can still find them in the suburbs. (This one is near my sister’s place and the boy in black walking the dog is Nick.)

The ones in the inner city look more like this.

Full of plants and flowers and gluten free crackers.

When I was a kid I used to spend my weekly pocket money of 30 cents on mixed lollies (Aussie for sweets or candy) and a chocolate or banana paddle pop.

It was the most wonderful feeling in the world to wake up on Sunday morning knowing that I was in for some treats.

When I was a kid the corner shops looked more like this.

Sadly, those days are long gone.

But I will never forget the feeling of anticipation on a Sunday morning and walking into the cool interior of the shop, the ceiling fans whirring, the smell of fresh newsprint, strawberry bubblegum and the earthy, invigorating scent of potatoes just picked held in baskets under the counter.

People were sitting at the formica tables at the back drinking milkshakes in the stainless steel tumblers they were mixed in with bendy paper straws striped red and white. The milk was so cold they got a pain in their foreheads and had to stop glugging half way through even though they didn’t want to stop because the milkshake was so delicious.

Kids fought over jaffas, fantails and pineapple chunks. I refused to share my spearmint leaves or my ripe raspberries. I ate my Golden Rough before anyone could even blink.

And the Paddle Pop. Luscious, creamy and cool. The most delightful ice block of them all. A combination of chocolate mousse and mudcake on a stick. The banana one was out of this world, almost transporting you to a permanent state of euphoria.

The corner shops might be boarded up and fading away but the memories remain.

They can’t take that away from me.

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22 thoughts on “Paddle Pop Days

  1. I remember (ages ago) the small grocers on the corners. We would stare behind the counter trying to make up our minds which ‘penny’ candies we were going to buy.

    Thanks for taking me back.

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  2. This got me thinking of all the treats I loved when I was little … my sweets were very important! I shall now be singing the last line ALL day … wonderful :o)

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  3. Oh wow – did you ever stir up memories! I can remember the penny candy and the paper straws and the sweet sugar/wood smell of the stores. The stores in your pictures look more like ones you’d see in beach/vacation towns here, but the memories and the spirit are so much the same! Thanks for this. Loved it. It may inspire a post of my own.
    xo

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  4. Awww Sel, this was such a lovely, heart-warming post! These stores are too cool, love the pics. And paddle pops, must be the sorta equivalent of our Revels, although the Paddle Pops look even yummier. here in Canada we had Chinese confectionary stores, that’s what everyone called them The Chinese Confectionary, because Asian people usually owned these and lived in the upstairs quarters. It was a great adventure to go in and load up on penny candy and all sorts of junk! What a quarter could by in the 60’s LOL . After a trip to the grocery store on Monday to the tune of over a 100. Joe and I were talking about what you use to come home with, as kids for 20. not 100. Ahhh…the good old days eh. But there’s lots of good days now and to come. Thanks for a wonderful walk down memory lane and the photos!

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  5. Hi PUDDOCK:
    Awww. Thanks for saying that. I do have a lot of nostalgia for the old days. All the shopping malls and chain stores these days seem so depersonalised. I long for the individual touch of the old school shopkeeper. Those certainly were the days!

    Hi EMPLOYEE 3699:
    I used to love doing that. It was so exciting. Sometimes I couldn’t make a decision and stood there for ages. It was such a great sound when the shopkeeper scooped the candy out and you heard it falling into the paper bag. I held onto that bag like it was worth a million dollars. Such fun!

    Hi TRAVELRAT:
    The good news is we still get Freddo Frogs and I love them. Although it can be very hard to get strawberry cream filled ones these days. A while back they made chocolate chip Freddos and they were divine. But you can’t get them anymore. I love my Freddo Frogs. I will eat them till the day I die!

    Hi DEBORAH:
    I really need to make a list of all the sweets I enjoyed as a child because I’ve forgotten the names of many of them. There were many British ones I enjoyed too like Walnut Whips and Jelly Tots. A grocer used to go around the streets in Glasgow in the 60s and 70s in his van and all the kids would run out with a penny or if they were lucky – a thruppence – and buy their sweets. Once I had a sixpence. I thought I was a Queen!

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  6. Hi JENNIFER:
    Yes, that’s it. The sweet sugar, woody smell. There was nothing like it. It is so cool to know people in other parts of the world have had similar experiences. I treasure my corner shop memories. In some ways they really defined the Australian experience for me. I would be so interested to read a post from you on this subject. I’d love to hear about Canadian treats!

    Hi GERALDINE:
    What a fantastic piece of history – The Chinese Confectionary. That is brilliant. Many of the corner shops here were run by Italians or Greeks back then. It is amazing what you could buy with only 20 cents. I was loaded down! It was like Christmas every Sunday πŸ˜€

    Hi MELEAH:
    It’s just not the same, is it? I really miss them too. They added such colour and character to the neighbourhood. I have to sigh too *sigh*

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  7. Boy do you bring back memories!! Our next door neighbor had a “smoke shop” on the corner and we always spent our quarter allowance every Saturday on candy! All the candy that was 3 for a penny, 4 for a penny, she’d fill up the small paper bags with all our choices, my personal fave was the black licorice babies, kinda racist when I think back now but yumm were they good! She had an old dog that laid in the doorway and greeted everyone with a tail wag and a grin. Those sure were the days!

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  8. You’ve just described my childhood – they were so cheap those bags of mixed lollies – our corner shop was literally around the corner and I was always sneaky over there and spending my pocket money (Mum didn’t like us eating lollies) and banana paddlepops are out of this world – haha. Lovely post and goreously written as usual Selma πŸ™‚

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  9. My own favourites were liquorice allsorts … they still are; I occasionally buy some, and it takes a supreme exercise of willpower to keep from snarfing the whole packet at once.

    A close second was cinder candy … when I came out to Oz in 1961, I couldn’t find it anywhere in Adelaide.

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  10. Hi CATHY:
    I loved hearing your story. I remember those licorice babies – they were yummy. The image of the dog wagging his tail as you walk in is gorgeous. I would have loved that!

    Hi GABRIELLE:
    Wasn’t it amazing how much you could get for 20c? It was bliss, really and truly. And the banana paddlepop….If you haven’t tasted one you just don’t understand the joy. My friend, Mel, calls it a mouth orgasm. I think she’s right πŸ˜†

    Hi TRAVELRAT:
    I love licorice allsorts. I am a major licorice fan. I like the bags you get from Darrell Lea. OMG. They are so good.

    I haven’t heard of cinder candy. So many of those sweets are gone now. Such a shame. They were delicious!

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  11. Do you get Crunchie bars there? Cinder candy is something similar to the centre, but without the chocolate. And, it comes in lumps, rather than bars … rather like a piece of coke, but yellow, sweeter and far more harmful to your teeth! πŸ˜€

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  12. Hi TRAVELRAT:
    We get Crunchies and also Violet Crumbles which are also choc coated honeycomb bars. Don’t get me started on how delicious they are….. CHOMP.

    The cinder candy sounds very much like the New Zealand Hokey Pokey which is to die for. I had it the last time I was in New Zealand and it was fantasmagorical. OMG. Too good to be true!

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  13. Selma! You are fueling my muse!! Thank you girlfriend!!! Great ideas and stories on your blog! I’m loving catching up!
    There are still quite a few corner shops in the area I live in now as an adult, but there are a couple of particular shops that come to mind from my nostalgic mind. The one I frequented as a kid was run by a man named Sam. His store was called, Variety Drive In, but it was only referred to as “Sam’s.” He used to play baseball with my Dad when they were young. So, when I was young and would go to Sam’s with my Dad, I would be handed my favourite all time ice cream in a cone. Strawberry. Then, the men would talk baseball and get caught up. On Christmas Eve when my Dad would frequent Sam’s for Ginger Ale and Tonic stuff for the party, we always were invited down into the storage basement where Sam and my Dad would have a drink and toast to another Christmas!
    OK, now I have a whole bunch of corner store stories………. will save them for a bloggie post on my site! xxx
    ps. My favourite candies…. sweettarts, pixie sticks, strawberry marshmallows and spearmint leaves. Still like them all!

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  14. Selma, what’s a fantail? I tried Googling it, to no avail.

    I always love looking at your pictures. I’ve never been to Australia, but they give me such a good idea of what it must be like where you live. I like that.

    I miss Kenyon’s Candy Store. I lived in Rhode Island until I was 4, and Kenyon’s was at the end of the street I lived on. Mr. Kenyon knew me, my brother and my parents by name, and he would always give us some free sweets and a lot of love. The store is no longer there — it has been replaced by the local post office — but I will never forget it.

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  15. You write beautifully. My heart aches a little for Sydney each time I’m done reading one of your posts. I hope i can go back and visit some day.

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  16. Hi DANA:
    What a fabulous story. It has been so much fun to hear everyone’s corner shop stories. Maybe we should put a book together….

    I’ve never heard of pixie sticks. It is so great to hear about all the different kinds of candy. I love it!

    Hi KATE:
    A fantail is a hard caramel covered in chocolate. The fantail part comes from the paper each chocolate is wrapped in. Traditionally, fantails were sold at movie theatres and the wrapping when smoothed out contained facts and trivia about movie stars. I learned a lot about movies from eating candy. Who would have thought?

    I’m really glad you like the photos. I’ll try and take some more typically Aussie ones.

    Awww. I’m sorry your Candy Store has gone now. It is sad when that happens. Sounds like it was a really great place to hang out!

    Hi SAN:
    So great to hear from you. Hope you’ve been well. I hope you do get the chance to come back to Sydney one day. You always speak very fondly of it!

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  17. Around the time when I was 17, a delicious treat came out called Feast. It was so great on a hot day, you felt like you were floating on a cool breeze. It was what we guys used as prizes for silly bets as you could never have enough of them. Unfortunately, I think they stopped making them.

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  18. When I read this post Selma, my mind immediately went back to our local corner shop (that wasn’t technically on a corner) that I used to pass by every day as I walked to school. I have fond memories of my uncle taking us there and buying us sweets. Very fond memories πŸ™‚
    So, being a nerd, I immediately went to Google Maps – Street View, and plugged in our old home address and then traced my path to school. I saw the corner shop near my home, and then the one nearer the school that I used to go to. I loved buying these long frozen treats called Mr Freeze – I especially liked the cola flavor (as we rarely had any cola products at home) and the cola bottles – small chewy sweets that were shaped like a cola bottle and looked like a cola bottle. Do you see a disturbing trend here ? πŸ˜‰

    Going into one of these shops was like entering a magical kingdom, where 1p could buy you so many different things (back then, 1/2p was still valid currency!). So have 5p or 10p made you feel like you had won the lottery!

    I wish I was home right now!! The next best thing is to make sure that the next time I do go back home, I take the time to relive some wonderful memories at my local corner shop! Thanks for bringing a warm memory from my past into my mind!!

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  19. Hi ROSHAN:
    Don’t you just hate it when they stop making our favourite treats? There should be a law against things like that. It makes me so mad 😑

    Hi MANOJ:
    It is always so nice for me to read one of your comments. I love it when you visit. You are such a thoughtful person.

    WOW. How amazing you can still find that shop on Google Maps. I actually looked at my old school in Glasgow on Google Earth the other day and it was incredible. I felt quite emotional when I saw it.

    I remember those sweets shaped like cola bottles. They were yummy. I have no idea what they were called but they were good. You are so right about entering a magical kingdom – that’s exactly what it was like. Buying sweets is one of my fondest childhood memories. I’m glad I could take you back too!

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