Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Flake bars

I always thought the Cadburys Flake bar was invented sometime around 1960 but this link[^] argues otherwise. Of course, that's a UK site so it's entirely possible that my memories, as a 6 year old, are accurate and it was new to Australia in 1960. Whatever.

They cost a bob at the time. I think they're up around the $1.50 mark in Milk Bars and probably somewhat less at supermarkets but it's been a while since I've had the opportunity to buy one. I have looked avariciously at the tins of Flake Bars on sale at Singapore airport but at US$40 a pack the price seems a trifle steep.

I know they cost a bob at the time because, at the time, my grandmother took me along to the corner shop. Yes, we really did have corner shops then. I lived at 12 Broad Street West Footscray, off Argyle Street. My school was at the end of the street and I passed by the corner shop every day going to or from school.

I remember biscuits (cookies) in metal tins high on the shelves. High not just in my terms in 1960 but high enough that even the adult behind the counter had to reach high to get at them.

In late 2002 Heino and I were busy being blokes and reconciling ourselves to the imminence of my departure from Australia to live in the US. I fancy I was doing more reconciling than he was :-)

We spent a few hours rambling around Seddon and West Footscray and had the good fortune, one Sunday morning, to encounter a couple who were just exiting their converted corner shop as we gazed upon it. Perhaps they imagined we were casing the joint; whatever the reason we talked about it and I had to admit that I remembered when it really was a shop. She was instantly interested; I seem to remember (though I may be wrong) that there was a family connection to the shop and she wanted to know what I remembered of it. What did I remember? Those damn metal tins full of biscuits (cookies). She was delighted at my description of shopping there in 1963 and my description was, for the most part, honest :-)

Back at the corner of Broad Street and Argyle Street West Footscray I remember my grandmother buying half a pound of broken biscuits (cookies) and the shopkeeper weighing em up, shoving em into a brown paper bag and then grabbing the bag by the corners, raising it high over her head and whirling it shut. I think that was the first time I ever saw a womans armpits and let me tell you, that sight has psychologically crippled me ever since :-) She had more armpit hair than I've ever had!

I was her little soldier. As was every little boy who ever came within her ambit. I don't say that as a nasty thing, it's the way things were and as a 6 year old I accepted it. I might have had a penny in my pocket, perhaps it was tuppence. I don't remember. Cutesing herself up to her customer through me she asked what I wanted to spend my money on. I pointed at a flake bar. Cutesing only goes so far! 'Oh no' she said, 'you don't have enough money for that'. But I outwitted her! Tears worked a charm.

I'm going to resist the temptation to mention the step daughter who ought not to be mentioned though I do note that techniques don't change over the years; what changes is who can pull them off. I'd no more expect tears to work nowadays than I'd imagine flapping my arms would take me to Australia!

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