Ice creams used to be thruppence. And the purchase dialogue was always the same.

Me: A thruppenny ice cream, please.

Shopkeeper: Plain or flavoured?

Me: What flavours have you got?


Shopkeeper: Neapolitan or lime.

Me: Lime, please.

Notice here that the description "vanilla" hadn't yet been invented; it was simply "plain". And why did I choose lime? Because I didn't know what Neapolitan meant and even if I had I wouldn't have spotted any connection between stripes of brown, pink and plain with the city of Naples.

Pity, really, because lime was an awful flavour for ice cream in those days.

Aniseed balls were five a penny and I think a bag of Smokers (pink cachous) was thruppence.

I seem to remember you'd also get thruppence back if you returned a soft drink bottle (creaming soda was a popular flavour but what it was made from one shudders to think, though cream of tartar could be a contender. Whatever cream of tartar is, one also shudders to think).

I believe thruppence was also the cost of an all-day sucker but I always wanted to challenge the nomenclature; I could suck one of those babies into oblivion in less than an hour.

It seems there were a lot of things that cost thruppence. We used to get two shillings for a Saturday movie matinee outing. The bus fare each way was thruppence and cinema seats were ninepence, a shilling or one and thruppence for those from the posher suburbs. Even if you sat in the expensive seats you had thruppence left over for an all-day sucker.

Or you could walk home and spend the bus fare on a second sucker. Or walk both ways and have three suckers or one Joy Bar, a long chocolate-coated ice cream bar which would set you back ninepence. If you sat in the ninepennies and walked both ways you could have a Joy Bar AND two all-day suckers.

As you can see, life wasn't at all simple.

In the field of confectionery it was hard to beat the mixed bag of lollies on offer at the annual school fair.

Home-made toffee, fudge, marshmallow, hokey pokey, peanut brittle and coconut ice were cut up and put in small paper bags where they somehow managed to fuse into a single, sticky, amorphous mass from which individual items had to be prised.

But it was all for a good cause and the resultant dental service was free (though operated by a treadle).

Bread came in two joined-together loaves which, for reasons I never understood, was called a half loaf. If you pulled the two pieces apart, each one was a quarter loaf (it might just have been a South Island thing). I never saw what a whole loaf looked like.

If you were on bread duty, it was mandatory to pull the half loaf apart into its two quarters on the way home. That way you could pick at the joining place of both quarters, the texture and taste of which left the rest of the loaf for dead.

By the time each quarter loaf reached home, it was somewhat hollowed out and possibly constituted an eighth of a loaf. The first few slices cut from each could only be described as hoops.

There should be a name for those roughly textured ends but my limited research only yielded "end pieces" or "heels".

So what has prompted these memories of yore? Probably this fairly recent dialogue:

Me: I'll have a double cone, please; one scoop of green apple sorbet and one of green tea ice cream.

Serveperson: There you are. That'll be $8.50 please.