EXACTLY 60 years ago, British children were finally able to do what today’s youngsters take for granted – they could buy as many chocolates as they liked.
February 5, 1953, was the day when sweets stopped being rationed.
Throughout the Second World War and in the austerity years that followed, sugar was so limited, the sweeter things of life had to be severely curtailed.
To mark the 60th anniversary, Nestlé has revealed some of the records and pictures held in its archives to give an insight into a very different Britain.
Sweets differed from today’s products of the same name and were sold by geographical zones in an effort to cut down on transport costs.
KitKats were milk free and came in blue, not red packets.
A sweet made in the north was only sold in the north, so confectionery from what was then Rowntrees factory was not available in southern or western England, and after 1941, many iconic confectioneries were not available for anyone.
Supplies for the factory were so limited, it could only make plain chocolate for soldiers rations. It also diversified into making Ryvita crackers.
Some employees got so desperate for a KitKat they tried to coat the Ryvita crackers with the plain soldiers’ chocolate.
Before the war, Rowntrees’ Easter catalogues were gold-plated and full of gigantic Easter eggs in expensive caskets. But even a year after sweet rationing ended, the 1954 Easter catalogue only had two eggs in it.
There was a brief period between 1939 and 1953 when sweets came off ration, in 1949.
But sugar was still rationed and the supply of sweets could not cope with the demand.
So four months after the Government gave children a taste of heaven, sweet rationing was reimposed. It was to be three-and-a-half years before it was abolished for good and sugar itself remained only available on coupon until September 1953.
Nestlé archivist Alex Hutchinson said: “It’s difficult for modern consumers to imagine just how little choice there was in the confectionery market 60 years ago.
“During the war, what little supplies of confectionery there were, were manufactured and sold according to zones. If you lived in the south of England but liked a chocolate bar made in the north, you could wave goodbye to it until peacetime.”