The Woolworths pick’n’mix was the best part of our childhoods

How many cola bottles could you fit in your pockets?


On the 5th January 2009, over 800 Woolworths stores up and down the country closed their doors for the last time – and with them, we lost a national treasure.

Their pick ‘n’ mix typified two of the main tenets of British society – unhealthy food and an undying love of a good deal.

Here’s why it was so great.

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RIP old friend

The nostalgia

The Woolworths pick ‘n’ mix represented a time when life was simpler. David Beckham still played for England, everyone had Motorola flip phones, I fancied Britney Spears and it wasn’t social suicide to wear Jack Wills.

We weren’t thinking of rent, grad jobs or putting on weight. We had the best housemates ever who would cook for us daily, wouldn’t mind when we consistently drank their milk and acted as our own personal taxi service.

The opposite sex didn’t exist – as far as our younger selves were concerned – so no-one cared about their appearance.

When Woolworths pick ‘n’ mix died, so too did our innocence.

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So much choice

The sheer amount of choice

There was literally everything you could ever want: giant strawberries, foam bananas, cola bottles, fried eggs, milk bottles, jelly beans, candy necklaces, cherry lips, flying saucers, and strawberry pencils.

Then there were the candy sticks which everyone used to pretend they were smoking: which, at the time, couldn’t have been more classic.

Depressingly, the list of sweets now reads like a more fun version of an actual adult’s shopping list. A shadow of happier times.

The value for money

The last ever bag sold for £14,500 in 2009. If that doesn’t show you how much inflation has increased, then I don’t know what will. Freddos used to cost 5p, for goodness sake.

One of the beauties of pick’n’mix was that even if you didn’t have enough money, you could still get more than your fair share of E number filled treats.

Instead of opting to live within your means, you began a life of petty crime. Your pockets overflowing with cola bottles, a single bead of sweat trickling down your wrinkleless forehead – you hadn’t reached puberty yet, so there wasn’t more perspiration – as you walked through the automatic doors into the street.

You had never felt more alive. Your young body could barely handle this much adrenaline.

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Young and carefree after too many E numbers

The convenience

Woolworths itself had everything you ever needed. Armed with your weekly pocket money, you trotted into town without a care in the world. You had no concern for politics or international news, just how many cool things you could buy with the collection of coins burning a hole in the pocket of your Gap hoodie.

You would pop in to buy the latest Match magazine, some more Yu-Gi-Oh! cards and Now 56 on CD before finally reaching the main attraction, the pick’n’mix. All before rushing home to watch Art Attack and Blue Peter.

The fact it will never be bettered 

Your local Odeon or Martins newsagent may offer their own take, but they’re a mere pastiche. They aren’t even a single solitary sugar granule on one of Woolworths’ fizzy jelly snakes.

So far 2016 has been a pretty shitty year for just about everyone. With a divided nation becoming even more so with every day that passes, there is only one thing politicians can do to re-unite the people: bring back the Woolworths pick’n’mix.

Theresa, I’ll be sat by the phone awaiting my cabinet position.