It’s 1992, you have your best dress on and you have just kept impeccably statue-esque during an intense game of Sleeping Lions. Party food is coming, but right now you’ve perfectly positioned yourself on the carpet so you can just about see Debbie’s mum’s finger hovering over the pause button on the hi-fi as the final rounds of Pass the Parcel start to heat up. There can’t be many layers of paper left. You need to concentrate and time this well. That present WILL be yours.
The music stops, Chris is still holding onto the present as if his life depends on it and Debbie’s mum is seemingly too weak to enforce the rules properly so the big gift goes to him. It’s a plastic doll with long knitted yellow hair. He doesn’t even want it. It’s just a shame all round.
Still, food is on the way and having “tired ourselves out” with games we can now get on with the main event: the greedy guzzling of sugar and E numbers. This is the early 90s, hummus hadn’t reached our shores yet and kids were still allowed to pick Wagon Wheels over cucumber sticks. It was bliss.
A quick survey of the trestle table and the usual suspects are all present and correct: Skips, Hula Hoops, Party Rings, Pink Wafers, a birthday cake in the shape of a clown which we mustn’t touch yet. And what’s that over in the corner? Oh yeah, Iced Gems.
Iced bloody Gems.
I will never understand how Iced Gems became so popular. The most fun you could have with an Iced Gem was to separate the “icing” from the “biscuit” and then not eat it. That was literally all they were good for: mindless deconstruction.
The biscuits always tasted stale and too plain, presumably because they had to be almost savoury to handle the intense sweetness of the dusty-yet-crunchy “gem”. They were such a strange texture, like some sort of NASA approved space food which would taste the same three minutes after opening as they would three years later.
I worry I may be alone in my disgust towards the little things though. They’re still on sale now, despite being revolting. A quick browse on Pinterest and you’ll find recipes to make your very own iced gem creations, with even vegan and “clean eating” versions. Sugar free Iced Gems, eh? Now there’s a thought.
There was so much to love about children’s party food of the 90s but Iced Gems were not good. Nostalgia may play tricks on us and make us think that Iced Gems were something special but they weren’t, they still aren’t and it pains me that they remain on supermarket shelves while things like Sara Lee have been banished to the sugary treat graveyard.
If you think Iced Gems are great, then I’m afraid you are wrong.
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