Midget Gems is the generic name for small, chewy, jewel-shaped, fruit flavoured sweets (candy).
Many manufacturers produce Midget Gems but the original, and in my opinion still the best, are made by The Lion Confectionery Company, and it is their brand I will be concentrating on. Starting the production in 1903 the Midget Gem soon proved to be popular with consumers, especially so in Scotland and the North of England, gradually spreading through the UK and Europe. They have been a favourite chew for generations.
Traditionally sold from polished glass jars in confectionary shops, where the sweets would be patiently weighed out by a dear lady with impeccably clean hands to the amount you desire, typically sweets were sold by the quarter, or a quarter of a pound. The beauty of Midget Gems to a small child is that they are small, came in a variety of colours and flavours and you feel as though you are getting a lot for your pocket money.
In a typical packet you can expect to find the following varieties -
A slighty sharp pear taste. Reminiscent of a Pear Drop, although not as acidic.
The Midget Gem that seperates the people, it is either loved or loathed. Tasting strongly of Liqorice, with a delightful smokey aftertaste. Not too sweet and slightly bitter. Often hated by children and adored by the parents. A personal favourite.
It's orange, it tastes of orange.
Unsurprisingly Lime flavoured, surprisingly bitter. Tasty.
Bit of an odd one is the red sweet as it doesn't seem to try to emulate the flavour of any fruit. Hints of raspberry and very sweet. Especially good when popped into your mouth with a Black sweet.
The cause of much debate. Tasting slightly of mango and many claim it to be pineapple. Certainly not lemon as might be presumed. The sweetest of the bunch.
Glucose syrup, sugar, gelatin, modified starch, citric acid, Licorice extract, flavorings, acetic acid, colours (E142 E122 E110 and E122) Glazing agents (vegetable oil carnauba wax).
I have seen gelatin-free varieties on sale, care should be made when purchasing if you have dietry restrictions. Product may contain traces of nuts. Caution should also be made if you have loose fillings, dental caps and dentures etc. These sweets are extremely chewy and will destroy weak teeth without mercy.
Calories per 100g 1470kj/344kcal
Lion Confectionary Co Ltd
West Yorkshire BD19 5EB
The popularity of Midget Gems fell with the decline of the traditional confectioner and the rise of the supermarket. Lion now produce Midget Gems pre-packaged in a variety of sizes (typically 215g) and have enjoyed an increase in sales as a result. I've tried many other brands over the years and non of them come up to scratch. Maynards Confectioners come closest, although the flavours are not as intense, they produce Midget Gems which are softer and more chewable than Lion. Some brands are downright disgusting and should be ashamed to bear the name; trial and error is the key.
A lifetime of enjoyable, tooth rotting mastication.
The empty packet of the sweets I've just eaten.