Childhood Treats: The Gobstopper

Image Credit: Laoise Tarrant

Imagine you're eight years old again. You're standing in the door of the shop, and you have a crisp five euro note clutched in your sweaty little paw. Your eye ranges intently over the glittering array of sweets, crisps and minerals. How are you going to spend this windfall? Sophie Finn indulges us with her sweet sweet nostalgia.

My favourite childhood sweets were gobstoppers, the giant multi-coloured ones that cost €1.50 in town. They were the OBSESSION of me and my sisters. Not because of the taste (I actually recall believing they tasted slightly of chalk), but because they literally lasted FOREVER. Growing up in the middle of nowhere means you learned to be crafty with resources. We had it timed perfectly. We could make a gobstopper last 2 and a half weeks, or whenever the next time our mother would bring us to do the shopping.

My eight-year-old self and my two older sisters would eagerly await the day we went to town and our mam would say the magical words “you can get something from the shop”. My oldest sister would be given the crisp €5 note, and we would race to the nearest newsagents. We would then spend as much time as we could (undoubtedly receiving several suspicious looks from the shop assistant) surveying the different sweets and imagining the amazing combinations we would buy when we were old and rich. Finally, we would settle on the predetermined traditional one gobstopper each (I always always wanted a pick n mix, but every time my sisters convinced me of what an extravagant waste of money that would be, pick n mix being extortion by another name). We would then spend the following weeks in a state of extreme contentedness, with jaws painfully strained and a chalky taste in the mouth.

Being a child of the recession, this bliss couldn’t last. Eventually, the day came when my mother decided this lavish habit could not continue and we were downgraded to.. one gobstopper.. between three.. *gag*. We were understandably in extreme and bitter shock. Much fighting ensued, with my eldest sister arguing it was a violation of the rights of the child, my middle sister crying, and I in what could only be described as a state of bereavement. Eventually, we resigned ourselves to the reality and went home, staring mournfully at our one measly gobstopper. 

Upon returning home, my middle sister, obviously overcome with the shock, mutinously grabbed the gobstopper and sprinted to her room, where she therein attempted to eat the entire thing. I still vividly remember her huddled in a corner gnawing at the massive globe. Unsurprisingly this did not end well, within 5 minutes we heard screams and she had chipped an incisor. We were never allowed a gobstopper again.