No matter what age you are, a sweet shop has to be one of the most magical places in the world. It’s full of mystery and wonder – and most importantly, sugar. Nowadays, much of our purchasing has moved from individual specialist stockists to the big supermarkets, but sweet shops in the UK still have a lot to offer to kids and adults alike. The wonder of sugar has not been destroyed by the modern world, even if we don’t pop into a traditional sweet shop quite as often as we might once have done.

Sweet shop sweets are something which we think are really special. They just don’t taste quite as good from a supermarket! No matter what shape your local sweet shop is – news agent, Post Office, or actual traditional sweet shop – it offers something unique. From Gobstoppers, Candy Sticks, Candy Necklaces, Pear Drops, Flying Saucers, Chocolate Mice, and Liquorice Allsorts, there are so many things those shelves are eager to proffer up to potential customers.

Everyone knows that sweets are a kid’s currency, which means the sweet shop is an essential part of a child’s world – a bit like a bank. That world is getting bigger every day, as new sweets are brought to market and old favourites return to existence – remember Rhubarb and Custard? How about Bulls Eyes? Those amazing boiled sweets have been joined today by Apple and Cinnamon – a wonderful new flavour of boiled sweet that has proven immensely popular with customers. Kids today may be deprived of many things their parents enjoyed, but we think they’re seriously lucky when it comes to the sweet shop sweets!

A confectionery emporium (posh eh?) is a great place to go shopping for birthdays and Christmas. The best thing about gifting sweets is the luxury look and feel of them, and no place creates that better than a traditional sweet shop. Rustling paper bags, bright colours, and amazing memories – they’ve got it all! Whether you’re visiting the sweet shop that has been there since you were a child, or discovering a new favourite, you can ensure you’re gifting a little bit of magic.

What’s even better about giving sweets as a gift: you’re not gifting clutter that won’t be appreciated, and that will gather dust in a corner until it gets thrown away. We all have too much stuff these days, so it’s great to choose presents that don’t involve adding to the endless mountain of stuff. Sweets won’t take thousands of years to break down on a landfill site, or end up in the never-touched ‘fix it’ pile. They will be eaten and enjoyed – and if they aren’t, they can easily be re-gifted for someone else to chomp on. Win-win; they’re the perfect gift no matter the occasion.

Dropping into a sweet shop on your way home from work is a wonderful way to give yourself a shot of nostalgia. After all, how many of detoured on the way home from school, clinking a little bit of spare change in our pockets, eager to swap it for something tasty? Pick and Mix has changed a bit since then, but it still has a lot of fabulous options, and that tang of the past to go with it. You can choose from a massive range of sweets, including Popping Candy – remember the explosion of sensations the first time you tried that? – jelly sweets, foam sweets, boiled sweets, toffees, gums, lollies, and everything else.

Why not add a bit of history to your next cute gift to your partner? Love Hearts are a wonderful way to do it, and almost every UK sweet shop will stock them. There have been some updates to what they say, but these are still the mouth-tingling, delightful sweets that they always were. Add a few Jelly Bean Love Hearts and you’ve got a wonderful little token gift that won’t cost half as much as flowers, and can be enjoyed by everyone. You could even pick up a few Love Hearts Lipsticks if you’re buying for someone who likes a bit of glamour. If you’ve really got your heart set on flowers, how about a few pretty Fruit Flowers to go in the mix? You can also get Liquorice Fruit Flowers, Haribo Heart Throbs, Jelly and Cherry Lips, and Haribo Friendship Rings. What better way to tell someone they’re special and you love them?

Of course, if you’re a parent, you’re most likely to look for sweets to satisfy your kids. Well, kids today haven’t changed – they’ll love anything sugary, retro or otherwise, but UK sweet shops are a wonderful starting point, especially for birthday parties! If you’re after a themed look, your local sweet shop should be your first port of call. Need something to brighten up a cake? Chocolate Beans are a great option, as are American Hard Gums. Bright colours and a tempting shiny centre, these look fantastic as part of a birthday table. You could also consider Dolly Mixtures – what could sound cuter than that? – or Fruit Salad Gums or Floral Gums. All of these will bring a wonderful splash of colour and vivacity to the celebrations, with a lovely twist from the past that can be appreciated by both young and old. What better way to get your kids into retro candy and show them the magic of sweet shop sweets?

If you’re looking for a slightly more ‘gross’ theme while still wanting something edible, how about choosing some insect sweets? Gummies offer the best options here, with Scary Spiders, Vicious Vipers, Jelly Pythons, Jelly Filled Snails, and Yellow Bellies. Kids will love chomping on some satisfyingly chewy jelly sweets alongside their slice of cake, and they’re great for party bags too. Alternatively, if you’re going for a fish theme, there are Baby Dolphins, Barratt’s Shrimps, Fruity Frogs, Gummy Starfish (super cute little faces!), Jelly Turtles, and Juicy Fruity Jelly Fish – the fish kind, not the ones with tentacles. You couldn’t go more aqua than that, so these are perfect if you’ve got a swimming party going on.

The sweet shop also has a lot to offer for making great prizes for party games. Need inexpensive little treats for Pass-the-Parcel? How about some pick’n’mix? Doing a lucky dip? Any of the wrapped sweets like sherbet, toffees, Parma Violets, Creme Eggs, Chocolate Money, or Bubble Gums will do beautifully. For Easter, a handful of Mini Eggs is a wonderful way to complete an Easter scene, or you could lay a trail of these to a bigger prize. Chocolate Pebbles also look beautiful as part of an edible scene. Add a few Jelly Foam Unicorns, perhaps a handful of Snowies or Jazzies, and maybe some Raspberry or Lemon Crystals, and you’ve got a magical landscape that’s just perfect for munching on.

Candy makes the world go round, and in our opinion, you can never have too many options. There is a plethora of sweet goodness out there, and your local sweet shop is full of treasures just waiting to be uncovered and make your life a little bit more succulent. Inexpensive, nostalgic, and beautifully colourful, sweets offer something for every taste and every occasion, and they allow us to dabble in creativity and twist the everyday with a thread of magic for ourselves and the next generation. You’re never too old to sink your teeth into a tasty nostalgic treat!