NOTHING STAYS THE SAME
Another sacred cow led to corporate slaughter.
"Only the phoenix arises and does not descend. And everything changes. And nothing is truly lost." - Neil Gaiman, as oft quoted by your correspondent, in "The Sandman".
The Lion Confectionery Company of Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire is one of the cornerstones on which this reporter's life has been founded, chums. For over 30 years (of your correspondent's own lifetime, that is - the company actually celebrated its centenary in 2003) they've been the supplier of superior wine-gum-type sweets to discerning consumers everywhere, but especially in Scotland and the North of England where the brand enjoyed particular success.
Creators of the original Midget Gems - a name the company appears to have neglected to trademark, and which has hence been appropriated by a wide range of pale imitations - the Lion brand was a byword for quality, and also for the black sweets in every packet being a nastily-unexpected liquorice-and-aniseed flavour, despite the bag proclaiming the contents to be "fruit flavour gums". But picking out the foul black ones was a small price to pay for the rich, juicy Heaven found elsewhere in the packet, and Midget Gems, Sports Mixture, Zoo Animals and the rest have been a fixture of your reporter's life ever since he was able to chew.
Now, your snack-loving correspondent considers himself something of an authority on the world of chewy and gummy sweets, viewers. Regular sorties are made from World Of Stuart's secret underground headquarters to various clandestine dealers across the country in search of the likes of Bassett's Wine Gums, a Europe-only treat inexplicably denied to British consumers in favour of the grossly-inferior Maynard's variety, despite being a product of the same company (Maynard's, like a great many classic British confectionery names, is now owned by the massive Trebor Bassett group.)
Such is your reporter's disdain for the Maynard's name - even most supermarket own-brand wine gums are far superior, particularly Woolworth's and Tesco - that you, dear viewer, can scarcely even begin to imagine his consternation on encountering the picture below as he strolled through his local Morrison's.
It's the kind of sight that grips your stomach like a vice and sends a chill through your soul, chums. One of the very foundations of your existence, one of the bedrocks on which your happiness is built, suddenly delivered into the hands of its mortal enemy. It's like, I don't know, "Goldeneye" becoming the intellectual property of EA or something. Yeah, that bad.
But one of the other bedrocks of this reviewer's life is the unexpected. For a life without surprises is a life without point, and by the law of averages, surprises will sometimes be pleasant. (If they were always predictably disappointing, they'd barely be surprises, would they?) And the glorious truth on this particular occasion is that the evil gum overlords have not only preserved the deliciousness of the fruity Lion sweets, but have also struck the blow that all fruit lovers have long yearned for, and ditched the revolting liquoricey black sweet in favour of a gorgeous new blackcurrant one - oddly reminiscent, in fact, of the Boots-brand blackcurrant-flavour chewy throat lozenges that your correspondent still occasionally buys as a treat, regardless of whether his throat hurts or not.
As it is when it was.
The point of this brief shopping anecdote, pals, is simple. Even evil sometimes gets it right. (It's a commonly-known fact, for example, that it has all the best tunes.) There's a lesson for us all here, and it's a lesson about prejudice and a leson about hope. If even Maynards, directors of all that's wrong in the chewy fruit sweet world, can do the right thing with such a venerable brand, to dare to change and yet not destroy, then maybe there's redemption somewhere for all the world's evildoers. Let's hope T Blair is watching, eh, viewers?
So, in the manner of Manchester United forming a guard of honour to graciously welcome the new champions of Chelsea onto the Old Trafford pitch last night, WoS salutes Maynards and its new-style Sports Mixture. (And also Midget Gems, which have recently followed Sports Mixture in a similarly-changed state.)
But if they ever try replacing the lime ones with apple, I'll hunt them down and kill them like fucking dogs.
It says "ANCHOR AFTER APRICOT", if you were wondering.