Minor British Institutions: Black Jacks

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The Independent Online

The dangerous thing about Black Jacks is that you forget how easily they make your mouth go all, well, black, which can be socially embarassing. However, if there are no romantic evenings or job interviews in the diary, you ought to feel free to indulge yourself with these delicious retro rectangles.

The very sight of one, and still more that aniseed chewiness, will take you back to the schoolyard, and an effort to remember the going rate for swapping them for, say, flying saucers or gobstoppers or Chewits. But has anyone ever got the wrapper off completely? There always seems to be a bit of paper left stuck on a Black Jack, itself a minor tradition.

Dating back to the 1920s, Black Jacks still taste best when bought out of a jar at a old-fashioned proper sweetshop, though there are online specialists now (try aquarterof.com) that supply the full gamut of dentally unfriendly treats. About £1.80 for 250g, which will leave you with an unforgettable smile for many weeks.