Most of you will have noticed the BBC series called Sweets Made Simple, with the lovely animations and scrumptiously naughty sugar mice.
It had the same aura of The Great British Bake Off, the scent of an era that we wish had happened, with flowery tea towels, and clipped vowels, when received pronunciation was the norm. Simpler days, like the summers that were always long and hot when you were a child, and the rain that pattered only at night. It’s mostly an imagined era, though you do get people that can remember when the apron with pockets was queen of the kitchen regalia, along with pale yellow fittings, and twin tub top loading washing machines.
A time when we all made sweets with Grandma (I know we all didn’t), and didn’t get fillings (oh yes we did) and life was full of sunshine.
When Kitty Hope and Mark Greenwood burst onto our screens with the beautiful kitchen, and their sauciness (Cherry Chapel Hatpegs? Matron.) and the sheer ease with which they reintroduced the sweet making skills of the past, it was like a waft of the good old days had come in through the open window. The Bisto Kids, but made of sugar and vanilla and all things good.
Gentle, and smiling – much like the Nigel Slater show about childhood biscuits – with oh such deliciousness bubbling away in a saucepan, or setting in clouds of snowy icing sugar.
Turkish Delight reminiscent of Narnia, where a lot of us longed to be, for a while. Marshmallows tempting in their rounded whiteness, plumped out with raspberry jewels. English Almond Butter Toffee, with golden layers of crunch, and buttery smoothness surrounding the whole.
How could we fail to love them?
Everything old fashioned and good shone through. People were enthralled.
Their shop in Covent Garden because a haven for grown ups escaping the stresses of work in their lunch hours, to pore over jars and jars of old time confections, and sneak a few Toffee Kisses or Aniseed Balls here and there. Their Peanut Butter Truffles became knows as Emergency Chocolates at work, because people didn’t just want them, they said they needed them.
Coconut Ice, and proper fudge, all were accessible, and made people happy. The books came out and people made pan after pan of fudges, and candies. No longer scared to work with sugar, because Kitty and Mark had taken that mystique away.
I remember reading Kitty’s blog, way back when, and roaring with laughter at how she wrote about their adventures. To have them actually ON MY TELEVISION SCREEN was the proverbial fondant on the fairycake.
I wanted to walk along the beach with them, and eat caramels by the sea. I watched them time and again when I was feeling low, because they made me smile so much. I’d even try chillies with white chocolate because they made them look so good.
Then the series ended.
They were still all over Twitter, having terribly good fun and jolly times. They were – are are – brilliant social media-ites, caring, and engaging, making us feel that we mattered to them. Mark’s moustache became more waxed, Kitty’s shoes were still fabulous.
A few months ago, I saw that the shop had closed.
With a sinking feeling I tweeted at Kitty and she confirmed that yes, it had closed, but never say never.
Then came An Announcement.
Mark: “We can keep our names but not as a confectionery business.”
We don’t know what happened, exactly, or why. But what we DO know, is that Hope & Greenwood THE BRAND is not, and never will be, anything without the original and best Miss Hope and Mr Greenwood.
It was their love, and joy, and brilliance that made the books and the blog and the series what it was. (Not to mention a very, very fine producer in Melanie Jappy.)
I believe they still own the rights to the books, so get buying you lot!
Beware the H&G brand in Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. It is NOT theirs any more. The packaging is wrong, the letters off kilter.
The rumour I heard is that the Monty Bojangles people bought them out, and then sacked them. Well if that was you, then shame on you for what you have done.
The outpouring of real grief on Twitter has been astounding. That Company may as well have just sold the Queen, or turned Nelson’s Column into a Poundland, or called Mary Berry names.
Kitty and Mark fully engaged with us, their fans and supporters, and the silence from the new people is utterly deafening in its coldness. Trying to shill the public that K&M are still Hope & Greenwood the brand.
Well I tell you, New Owners, you may be the man in black with the pointy moustache and the top hat, who has tied Our Heroes to the railway lines, but they will escape, and they will thwart you.
They will come back bigger, and better, and DAMMMIT MAN TWICE AS JOLLY AS BEFORE.
Because they have what you do not have. Passion, and heart, and us.
And unsuitable shoes.