Friday, 13 April 2012

Fountain of youth

The more hours a day I spend on this accursed project, the worse my diet gets. In need of a boost at 9pm I went out with the intention of procuring a cream egg. I came home with something I haven't eaten since I was about 11. A sherbet fountain.

For non-British or younger readers this is as close to a chemistry set as you can get in confectionary form. It's basically a stick of liquorice stuck into sweetened bicarbonate of soda. It used to come in yellow paper wrapping with the liquorice sticking out of the top, which, come to think of it, wasn't awfully hygienic although there's precious little in there for bugs to feed on. It used to look like a firework or tiny bomb. These days it's a sealed plastic tube with the liquorice safely inside. It is also, incidentally, halal and vegetarian although I'm not entirely sure how it wouldn't be. I wasn't big into reading ingredients labels when I was 11 but maybe there was bone meal in there or something.

As for taste, it seems lemonier than I recall. The liquorice is as pointless and unpleasant as ever (does any child, except Just William, actually like liquorice?). I suppose you are meant to use it to dip into the sherbet but I always used to pull it out and eat it first to get rid of it. That was harder this time - the sherbet had set into a hard lump and was all set to come out in solid lolly form, stuck to the liquorice. It took some vigorous banging on the desk to break it up. Then I tipped the sherbet into my mouth where as I remember it went simultaneously claggy and fizzy.

One thing hadn't changed though - the volume of gas it creates in the upper digestive tract. To think I used to consume this on the bus.

Given that it is bicarbonate of soda, I wonder if it would cure cystitis?


  1. Probably gelatin in the liquorice made it non-vege in the past.

    Hmmmm sherbert fountains. Also, sherbert dips.

  2. Good point.

    I don't remember sherbert dips.

  3. A dip (or was it a dab) was like a fountain, but with a lolly instead of the liquorice.

    But wasn't the liquorice stick hollow, like a straw, and you were supposed to suck the sherbet up through the middle of it?

    I can't stand the stuff either. Or aniseed, or fennel.

    Oh stop it, or we'll end up talking about space dust and Toffos, and then Starsky and Hutch and we'll all end up crying because we didn't have Raleigh Grifters, and Stuart Maconie will say "what was all that about?" and then Kate Thornton will come on and I'll kick in the telly.

  4. I suspect I'm quite a bit older than you imagine, Tim. Also I wasn't allowed to watch TV as a kid but I think Valerie Singleton would be my point of reference.