Sweet nostalgia

Those sweet, sticky jaw-breakers were our favourite toffees during our school days

Weaving our way through the milling crowds in Delhi’s Karol Bagh market, my daughter and I, after a long walk and some shopping, decided enough was enough. We had picked up what we wanted, so there was no point in simply roaming amid a sea of humanity. We crossed the road.

Just then I spotted a handsome little bakery. Let’s check it out I told my daughter impulsively and stepped inside to find scrumptious-looking cakes, cookies and the usual stuff that bakeries display in their glass cases. Amid all the goodies, I spotted a big bottle filled with black sweets wrapped nicely in cellophane. Curiosity got the better of me. Are those stick jaws, I asked the middle-aged attendant, who smiled and answered in the affirmative. I couldn’t believe I was seeing those toffees after so many years. I began salivating mildly and was engulfed in a wave of nostalgia.

Those sweet, sticky jaw-breakers were our favourite toffees during our school days in Bangalore. They were sold in our school canteen as well as in shops, long before Mars, Snickers, Bounty, Toblorone and such fancy foreign chocolates invaded our stores.
Made of jaggery and peanut, the dark toffees had a unique taste and given that they were hard and sticky, one could chew them for quite a while.

It used to cost five paise each, if memory serves me right. Often times, we went into class warily chewing the toffee only to be caught by an eagle-eyed teacher, ordering us to go spit it out, with a stern warning to return immediately.

That warning became imperative because some of us took our own sweet time to finish the toffee and get back! I must have last chomped on stick jaws during my school days and over the years the toffee occasionally came up in conversations with buddies of my generation when we sauntered down memory lane. Also, we often wondered if shops or school canteens in Bangalore still sold the home-made toffees and some other cookies and pastries. Or, whether, like some other eatables, they just disappeared to become part of the city’s culinary history?

When I told the shop man to pack quarter kilograms of those toffees, he asked, looking surprised, “Sir, are you sure you want that much.” Indeed, I responded unequivocally and asked, why that doubt. He explained that customers pick up just one or two and that too rarely and that I was the first customer to buy such a quantity.

As we walked out, my daughter asked, “Dad aren’t those a bit too much.” It’s not all for us, I assured her, adding that some of my old buddies would get a taste of their favourite toffee and could once again relive the good old ‘sweet’ times.

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