We’re a melting pot of backgrounds and cultures in South Africa and even though we’ve been a democratic nation for over 20 years, there is a still a lot we need to learn about the things we didn’t have in common growing up.
A while ago, a discussion in the office came up about “bompies”. Many of my white colleagues had no idea what this plastic bag of juice was and we had some fun explaining it to them. It turns out they’d had it but call it “icies”.
All this got me thinking: What other foods/treats that were part of your childhood?
I can only speak about things I grew up surrounded by in my community. Our school tuck shop sold what we called “50 cent chips” – essentially a cheaper version of Nik Naks in flavours like beef and chicken, usually over-dyed to the point that your fingers would be stained red for two days after eating it.
Here’s a list of eatables (mostly not healthy but hey we grew up kind of fine-ish) we were exposed to growing up.
Bompies and bunnylicks:
What was a hot, summer’s day without an icy cold plastic sachet of water flavoured with bright syrup? Sure, these sacks of sugary liquid may have been available to other kids, but did they have these names for it?
These are not your regular slices of pink processed meat. They’re meant to be eaten warm, sometimes with atchaar as a condiment. There are some butcheries that still sell it but they don’t cost a penny like they did in my parents’ day. The name just stuck. It’s pure artery clogging comfort food that you won’t find easily. Do yourself a favour and don’t question what goes into it or you’ll not ever enjoy it again. There is a butchery in Walmer Estate, Cape Town that makes them on a Wednesday and people often stop there after work to get a parcel of them.
Surf Joy, Jelly Jolly, Chocolina (oh how my grandmother loved this), granadilla suckers, and more were favourite summer time treats that most corner shops in many neighbourhoods sold. At many Cape Malay Muslim weddings back before everyone became fancy, people got served bowls of soft serve from Gatti’s that would be eaten with a tiny wooden spoon.
Not only were you able to exercise your jaw and make big bubbles, you also got an education. Part of the fun of having chappies is the “Did you know” section on the inside of the wrapper. Chappies was the Wikipedia of the ’90’s child. BONUS: It’s still available today!
They probably don’t make these anymore out of fear it encourages smoking, but in the 1990s smoking was a thing and kids pretend-smoked by buying boxes of chocolate-cigarettes. Can I just say, my friends and I, ate these candies and we are non-smokers today.
These were really popular among my friends in primary. I can’t say I took it at all. They’re not as widely available anymore but I found them in an Indonesia supermarket when I was there two years ago and brought them back for my friends.
There used to be a truck that drove up our road with crates of bottled cooldrink in the back. We’d keep the bottles from the previous week and swap it out for a crate of other bottles. These were days when people actually reused and recycled. It would be nice to go back to this system rather that buying drinks out of plastic bottles that will become landfill at the end of the day. My favourites (back when I was a kid and drank sugary, fizzy drinks) were the cocopina and the iron brew flavours.
Honourable mentions: Rascals, Penguin biscuits, Milky Bar Buttons, Ripple Chox, Chomp, NikNaks, Jelly Tots, and Smarties.
Tell me about the childhood treats you grew up eating? I’d love to hear from you.