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Retro Sweets

Popular Retro Sweets: 1940s to 1980s

There's something special about retro sweets. Not only are they delicious, but they also remind us of a different time - which might not have included the internet, but let's face it, those days were more straightforward.

In this post, we're going to dive deep into the world of retro sweets and see which UK favourites can stand the test of time.

Where Do Sweets Come From?

Since the dawn of time, human beings have enjoyed a sweet treat, and honey was a big part of life for the Romans. The Tudors were particularly fond of indulging themselves with honey and sugared almonds (just take a look at Henry VIII!)

While there's no doubt that sweets evolved through the years, we can't ignore how essential the Victorians were to their growth. The Industrial Revolution introduced steam trains, factories and the idea of mass production to the general public - and it gave inventors a way to innovate without the costs being too high.

Traditional boiled sweets first appeared in the 1820s, while seaside rock took an extra ten years to come to the public's attention. Since then, we've seen advances in technology that have led to a range of delicious types of confectionery, including:

  • Chewing Gum
  • Chocolate
  • Haribo
  • Chewy Sweets

So, let's take a look at the UK's favourite retro sweets from the 1940s onwards.

The 1940's

Yes, the 1940s weren't easy for anyone. Britain was at war for the second time, and people had to deal with rations. But one thing didn't change; everyone loved a cheeky treat. So, which retro sweets were a favourite among the 1940's - and can you still buy them today?

Milk Chocolate Toffees

The perfect mix of milk chocolate and delicious toffee flavours, a bag of these always went down a treat. While we've progressed to more exotic toffee and chocolate pairings today, you can still buy a pack of these classics at your local retro sweet shop.

Mint Imperials

Mint Imperials are another classic British sweet that was incredibly popular in the 1940s. These small, round sweets have a refreshing mint flavour, and they're still available to buy today.

In fact, Tilley's is one of the oldest confectioners in the UK and still sell their delicious sweets across the UK. So, get your hands on Tilley's sweets today.

The 1950's

The 1950s was all about Rock and Roll, Elvis and a great year for cars. OK, while most people think about the USA during this decade, the UK still had plenty to offer - including its selection of sweets.

Rowntree's Fruit Gums

One of the OG's of Rowntree's impressive roster of sweets, fruit gums are known for their small size and chewy texture. The colours include strawberry, lime, lemon and orange and are still available today.

Sherbet Dip Dabs

While Barratt introduced the infamous Dip Dab in the 1940s, it didn't become a favourite until the following decade. It's still incredibly cheap to buy and had retained its tongue-tingling goodness decades later.

The 1960's

While the 1960s was a decade that arguably saw substantial social changes, it wasn't all bad. The Beatles and Rolling Stones were enjoying success (and making us want to dance), and we also got some fantastic films like Mary Poppins and of course - James Bond. But what about our retro sweets?


BonBons are small, round sweets with a fruity flavour, and they're famous for their hard outer shell. They were one of the most popular types of confectionery in the 1960's - but you can still buy them today.

Love Hearts

Love Hearts are another famous sweet that's stood the test of time. You probably gave them to your childhood crush on Valentine's Day - and perhaps your parents did the same! Love Hearts were invented in 1954, but in the '60s became a must-have sweet.

The 1970's

Next, we're heading to the 1970's - a decade that saw the UK through some huge changes. While we were still in love with Mars bars and Fred Dibnah, there was something else on offer for those who fancied a sugar buzz - jelly babies!

Giant Cola Bottles

These giant cola bottles were a popular choice for those who wanted something sweet and refreshing. They're made with authentic coke flavour and are still available to buy today.

Flying Saucers

Flying Saucers were a popular choice for sweet lovers in the 1970's. They're made with rice paper and have a sherbet filling, so kids especially loved the intense flavours.

The 1980's

Finally, we've reached our last decade of confectionery treats! The '80s saw everything from leg warmers to shoulder pads - and of course, there was plenty of delicious confectionery available.


Nerds are small, colourful sweets that have a sweet and sour flavour. They were must-haves in the 1980s and are still available today. You might remember Dweebs too, but they didn't quite manage to make an impression on sweet lovers.


Refreshers are another retro sweet that was hugely popular in the '80s. They're made with sherbet and come in various colours and flavours. They're still available today, so get your hands on a pack and enjoy the intense flavours.


Last but not least, we have Skittles. Yes, people first got to taste the rainbow in the mid-1970s, but Skittles didn't become a favourite until the 1980s, and people certainly loved them!

Years later, people of all ages still enjoy a bag of Skittles, and with sour blends available, it's clear this rainbow isn't going anywhere.

The Wrap Up

Well, there you have it, the UK's favourite retro sweets from the 1940's to the 1980s. Sweets continue to be a popular part of our lives, and there's nothing better than relaxing in front of your favourite TV show with a bag full of goodies.

With so many delicious sweets on offer, now all you have to do is choose your favourites and enjoy. Better still, why not have a retro sweet night with your friends?

If you enjoyed reading this post, why not check out our guide on the best sweets for movie night. You can read it here.