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16 October 2014
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Sweetie Shops

Sweet shops are a dying breed. Gone are the days of a 6d mix up, a quarter of black-jacks, the worn wooden counter

History & Heritage

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Sweetie Shop Survivor

Raspberry Ruffle

Sweet shops are a dying breed. Gone are the days of a 6d mix up, a quarter of black-jacks, the worn wooden counter and the ding of the bell on the way out. In these modern times we have "pick n' mix".. rows upon rows of imported confectionery in plastic bins and the obligatory barcode stamped upon everything. It's mass market and served to us from a conveyor belt accompanied by the soulless beep of the scanner and wrapped in a cellophane bag... measured of course in grammes.


Traditional 'Sweetie Jars'
Traditional Glass "Sweetie Jars"
In complete contrast "Mollies" (Molly Murphy), at Wine Tavern Street in Belfast's Smithfield area, has served the local community with sweets and provisions for over a hundred years. At the dawn of the 1990`s however the Castlecourt Shopping Centre opened its many doors, casting a huge shadow over Smithfield. Most of the smaller shops in the surrounding area buckled under the strain of competing with convenience and choice under one roof.

"Mollies" closed down and fell vacant for a number of years before being resurrected in 1997 in its new guise as "Old Tyme Favourites" run by Martin Donnelly and his brother Michael.

Customers come from all over the world to make the pilgrimage to buy from the huge range of old fashioned sweets on offer.The guesstimate is over 200 types.

The shop floor is a minute 3 feet by 6 feet , yet several American customers have bought the sweets by the box load, sending relatives in at every opportunity.

A tradition exists for sufferers of a bad chest or cold to suck on "Jakemans Throat and Chest Sweets", as an alternative to more medical cough sweets.

Even the humble Brandy Ball is sought after in high numbers as its availability, even on the mainland UK, is scarce.

The shop`s days are numbered however, as a new wave of retail landscaping is about to wash over Smithfield. The area is to be enclosed under a giant roof stretching from the existing Castlecourt Shopping Centre, northwards, which will envelop Wine Tavern Street. The shops will be demolished (Old Tyme Favourites will relocate) and drones of bright new shiny "retail units" will take their place.

The Top Five sweets sold at the shop are pictured below.

Midget Gems
Midget Gems
Sports Mixture
Sports Mixture
Clove Rock
Clove Rock
Raspberry Ruffles
Raspberry Ruffles
American Hard Gums
Hard Gums

What are your memories of buying sweets as a child? Did you visit the shop when it was "Mollies"? Perhaps you live abroad now and have found a similar haven for your sweet tooth? Please tell us.

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