Sweets from Spar

Back in the 90s

Being given 50c to spend at the Spar down the road was, like, better than winning the grand prize on Telly Fun Quiz. No seriously. (Okay, not counting the Trellidor.)

As we chucked on our takkies, hyped to the max, chattering in high pitched squealy voices, you’d be forgiven for assuming we were embarking on year-long trip to the beach in Durbs and would never have to go to school again, ever, and would be eating ice-cream for dinner every night hence forth.

50c at Spar.

I was placed in charge (“the boss”, like Springsteen); Kate and the boys had to listen to me—our parents told us. Our grand expedition would start outside our houses on Somerset road; money in pockets, walking sticks (more like ‘fight on the way’ sticks) in hand, enthusiasm abundant. We’d head towards Jeppe boys; turn right into Good Hope, left into Roberts and then carry on straight down the main road, past the Marymount Hospital on Albemarle Street, where Roberts Avenue becomes Commissioner trailing into Joburg CBD – deep in conversation, constructing our respective shopping lists, with the occasional whack or shove to keep it real – until we saw the fizzer-pink elephant trumpeting outside the Jumbo Liquor store that neighboured the Spar shop.

Then, the critical part of the journey (which had the potential to derail, break and destroy any future sugar-filled adventures): crossing Roberts Avenue.

Spar was on the other side of the road.  

There was a robot to guide us but we are South African children after all, and a mad dash between speeding cars and swerving taxis was always the more likely scenario as we bolted towards our destiny. One time, Ali and Kate got stuck on the other side of the road. Chrisie and I dashed across, thinking the little ones were following. They were not. Their forlorn faces, all the way on the other side. I stood on the Spar side and bellowed across, telling my little my 4-year-old brother and our little 4-year-old neighbour when to cross. Total trust. We made it to the shop, as we usually did, and spent our money on “rollies” (Wilson’s hard-boiled sweets, 25c each—the Humbug, pink (maybe Rose?) and mixed-pack flavours were the best)—and Chrisie always bought a box of blue bubble-gum instant pudding that he’d make as soon as he got home and chug down all by himself.  

Sometimes we never made it to the shop because we’d be lucky enough to run into one of the African Mamas selling Chappies bubble-gum and Wilson’s toffees—laid out on the side of the road on top of a blanket or cloth. We’d select our treats, pay our cents and scramble on

…carefully opening the Chappies. (Never EVER tear a Chappies paper.) Shoving as many gums into our mouths as we couldmixing banana, grape, mint and the pink one with sacrilegious frivolity.

Blowing bubbles and spluttering out facts all the way home.


Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeppestown/4093579900

Author & Storyteller: Andrea Zanin

Andrea is a writer, wife, mother and dreamer; also the author of this website. She moved to London in 2006 to earn £s, travel, see bands and buy 24-up Dr Martens—which she did, and then ended up staying. Andrea lives in North London with her husband (also a Saffa) and five children. She loves this grand old city but misses her home and wishes her children could say “lekker” (like a South African) and knew what a “khoki” is.

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