diamond geezer

 Monday, March 28, 2022

As you'll know if you've been to Oxford Street recently it has a heck of a lot of sweet shops these days, specifically selling imported American candy.

It had at least six before the pandemic and somehow they survived the lack of tourists and multiplied and now there are eleven. I thought I'd visit them all, starting at the Marble Arch end.

Candy Surprise: This is located slap bang on the corner facing Marble Arch and used to be a Crest of London souvenir shop. It also sells luggage, vapeware and tins of English Breakfast Tea, but mostly it's sweets.

If you've not been inside one of these candy stores they're essentially an Aladdin's cave of sugary treats, most (but not all) originating on the other side of the Atlantic. That means shelves of Oreos, Hersheys and funky flavoured Pop Tarts as well as racks of Cheetos, Milk Duds and assorted Nerds. There's often a entire wall of sugary cereals like Apple Jacks, Cocoa Pebbles and French Toast Crunch, plus all sorts of chewy options like Hubba Bubba, Millions and Dots. Expect to face flavours like blueberry, bubblegum and watermelon which are less familiar in the UK, and if there's a chiller unit the likes of Kool-Aid, Mountain Dew and Fanta Berry. You might even grab yourself a packet of Sour Jawbreakers, a bag of Chile Limón Lay's Potato Chips, a selection of Mike & Ikes or a box of Nabisco Grahams. But what you won't see anywhere is a price.

Tales are told of people who went in for a bar of chocolate, a bag of sweets and a packet of cereal, waved their contactless card and discovered later they'd been charged over £20. I can't confirm this because, as I said, all the goods are unpriced and I had no intention of buying any. What I did do in Candy Surprise is ask if they had any Cinnamon Tic Tacs because I know they've been discontinued, and all they did was direct me to some Lime and Orange by the till which I could have bought in my local corner shop. Tremendously polite, but no thanks.

American Sweet Dreams: This one used to be Holland and Barrett. It's quite lightly stocked, being mostly wallspace and a few free-standing units.
American Lolli & Pops: This one seems to be a partner to the one a few doors up the road and if anything is emptier. One of the shopworkers was standing just outside the entrance, less to welcome visitors but more as if he was acting as a lookout.
Candylicious: This one's bright and welcoming so long as you're not frightened off by M&M's characters in party hats. It used to be a shoe shop. Have you noticed how every one of these has either the word 'Candy' or the word 'American' in its title?
American Candy Shop: This one has both. It used to be Boots the Chemist but during the pandemic there wasn't much call for that so now it sells sweets. In its defence this is the only shop that actually puts price labels on some of its stock, so well done to them, even if the inevitable effect is "£6.99 for a box of Pop Tarts! No thanks."

That's five of these shops in the short section between Marble Arch and Bond Street stations. There's no way Oxford Street needs this level of candy competition, you'd think, and yet all of these stores had customers so maybe it is what people want to browse. If you're up from the provinces with the family or on a trip abroad with your mates, a quirky sweet shop might be a lot more fun to dip into than the surrounding alternatives. Half the department stores have gone and most of the clothes shops too, so checking out Jolly Ranger candies and Jelly Belly beans does at least pass the time.

Candy World: This is the big one, both in terms of floor space and in terms of who it replaced. That's because this is the former HMV flagship store at 363 Oxford Street, now emptied out and replaced with racks of empty calories. Head to the rear and you can see the mothballed escalators, the lowest access point now hemmed in behind a selection of generic suitcases and other luggage. If this is where you came to buy your classical LPs or new wave CDs, it's sad to see walls of Hostess Twinkies, Cookie Dough and Goldfish Crackers instead.

A shop where you could buy long-forgotten British sweets would be excellent, a nostalgic treasure trove of Spangles, Toffos, Pacers, Pyramints, Fuse bars and the like. But you'd never interest the young consumer, which is where Oxford Street's audience is, plus some company would actually have to manufacture them again, whereas these American treats can simply be imported and everyone goes ooh how exotic, I'll buy two bags.

Americandy: This wins the prize for the best name, but is also one of the smallest shops. It used to be an Accessorize but is now emblazoned with candy canes and Wonka bars.
Kingdom Of Sweets: This is the odd one out, as the use of 'sweets' instead of 'candy' in the name suggests. It's been here 10 years now, the business having originally evolved from a pick ’n’ mix stand in a Barnsley shopping centre, and its selection isn't as American as elsewhere. It's also the only store where I saw a woman employed, the only store with a basement and the only store with a selfie screen for customers to use as an Insta background. Marshmallow fluff, Swedish Fish and six kinds of Snickers remain available, however.
Candy Shop: Easily the dullest name of the bunch, inside a large unit where JD Sports used to be. I was part surprised and part impressed to see an employee dusting the rack of crisps just inside the entrance.
(Candy Corner): ...but this one's closed. It had everything going for it - a location close to Oxford Circus, the usual stock of transatlantic goodies and the Stars and Stripes on full display - but instead a sign in the window says 'Everything Must Go' and the shutters are down.

There are those who say these shops are a front for dubious trading, maybe even money laundering, and that some overlord is repeatedly opening and closing a selection of outlets to keep on the right side of business legislation. It does seem unlikely that a dozen half-empty sweet shops could support the exorbitant rents that the heart of the West End demands, however overpriced the Twinkies, Twizzlers and Sour Patch Kids might be. All I'll say is that in certain stores the stooge by the door did seem more interested in watching the street than any potential shoplifting within, and I never quite felt comfortable enough inside to take photos of the colourful displays up close.

American Candy Shop: This is the first repeat, indeed a matching shop to the one near Bond Street station. There are considerably fewer candy outlets on the run-up to Tottenham Court Road, indeed just these two.
American Sweets & Souvenirs: This final shop had a poor selection of candy, as you might expect when half the store is about flogging hoodies, key rings and plastic Big Bens. But a box of Pop Tarts was only £5.99 here, i.e. a full pound cheaper than at American Candy Shop, so it pays to shop around.

It's no good tutting, these candy stores aren't aimed at you, neither are they occupying units that'd be selling something you were interested in either. But you do have to wonder why what used to be the most prestigious shopping street in the country is now infested with tacky outlets fleecing visitors with unlabelled racks of foreign confectionery. Priceless? Sadly yes.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan22  Feb22  Mar22  Apr22  May22  Jun22  Jul22  Aug22  Sep22
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21  Jul21  Aug21  Sep21  Oct21  Nov21  Dec21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
our bow
ian visits
blue witch
on london
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
bus and train user
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
from the murky depths

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
The DG Tour of Britain

read the archive
Aug22  Jul22  Jun22  May22
Apr22  Mar22  Feb22  Jan22
Dec21  Nov21  Oct21  Sep21
Aug21  Jul21  Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards