Robert Opie’s obsession with packaging began as a teenager, and he remembers the exact day—September 8, 1963—as well as the reason. He was traveling in Scotland and bought a pack of Mackintosh’s Munchies, a chocolate-covered sweet with a caramel and biscuit center, from a vending machine.
I have never possessed such an exhaustive knowledge of the merchandise available in a single product category as I did for these treats. Toothpaste, deodorant, breakfast cereals—I have preferences, but I don’t know the full range of what’s available, nor do I care. When it came to 1960s confectionery, I now realized, I had been a highly trained
A dubious claim, it turned out. Less welcome memories of my 1960s childhood involve regular trips to the dentist, so he could drill out the decay caused by all those Easter eggs, Christmas selection boxes, and the endless daily munching. By the time I was a teenager, my adult molars were a mass of fillings, usually installed without anesthetic. British water was not fluoridated, unlike in the U.S., and this degree of tooth damage is common among my generation. One might wonder why parents—who had grown up in the dental dark ages before Britain offered free care to the entire population—didn’t put two and two together. We once watched a boy eat a chocolate Mars bar in the dentist’s waiting room before going in for his appointment. Sweet Sixties indeed.