Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Retro Tuesday: Humbugs

Last night Dan came home with a bag of one of the sweetest tradition around Montreal; The Stillwell's Humbug.
The humbug is a hard candy made of molasses,butter and peppermint....Huuummm humbug!

I'm sorry the pic quality is crappy, this is the only one I could find on the web.

Humbugs come from England and the recipe was brought here in 1914 when the Stillwell's moved to Verdun  .Stilwell's Home Made Candy Store was opened on Wellington street in 1933 and stayed at the same location until 1999. I remember going there (1991-1995) on saturdays to buy some sweet stuff. They had all kinds of hand pulled hard candy, my fave was the humbug and the humbug suckers. I'm kicking myself right now because i didn't take pictures and there is none on line. The interior was all white with glass cases. The counters were manned by old english sour pusses with hair nets....You could get a sugar rush just by breathing deeply! Oh the joy this place brought to everyone!
After 1999 it moved to Lasalle but closed down in 2009 due to tough economic times. However the humbug is still handmade by Mr Jenkins , son-in-law of the original owners and available at 5 locations in and around Montreal. They are sold @ Le Panier in Pointe-Claire, Deli Plus Frank & Fred also in Pointe Claire, Westmont Stationary Inc, St. Mary's Hospital Centre gift shop, Montreal General Hospital gift shop.
And now more on how they started out:   In an attempt to keep his family off social assistance during the Great Depression after losing his job in 1927, violinist and artist Richard Stilwell and Kay began peddling fudge bars baked by his eldest daughter, Gladys.

Kay sold them for a nickel each to caddies at the Mount Royal Golf Club while Stilwell bicycled into Montreal's business district, where he earned $2 to $3 a week selling ribboned boxes of the fudge.

After he was arrested for selling without a permit, Stilwell resorted to delivering call-in orders around town with the help of another daughter, Jeanne.
Jeanne worked at Bell Canada and with all those numbers at her disposal, promoted her sister's fudge and took the phone orders.
Sales were so good, they rented space for walk-in business for about 10 months, during which time they added Humbugs and other speciality candies to their selection. Then they moved to the permanent Wellington St. shop.

Don't be fooled by imitations! These are not humbugs!

So basically there was no point in waiting until Xmas to savour those timeless candies....so we digged in and watched a Xmas episode of the Big Bang Theory....and for a while time stopped and all was right in the world with lazy snow falling.

Have a great Retro Tuesday y'all!

For more Retro Tuesday Fun check Tracy's Crazy Suburban Mom !


concretenprimroses said...

Yum! Wish I had some. Next time I go to Montreal, definitely.

De tout, de rien said...

You did such a good job explaining these, I now want some really badly! You should start a mail order business with them!

Maureen said...

Oh yum!

Alyssa said...

Those sound good; we'll have to try them sometime. Thanks for the little store, too.

David Baril said...

Although I grew up in Lachine in the 1950's, I didn't discover Stillwell Humbugs until much later. When I was working at Nortel in the 1980's a couple of the fellows in the shop were from Verdun and would bring back a couple of bags of Stillwell Humbugs at Christmas time. Fantastic!

I have just verified (27/Aug/2013) that Le Panier in Pte Claire still carries them but they are not available during the summer. They should be coming back again in October. I know now what I'm getting the family as stocking stuffers for Xmas!

Thanks so much for this article!


David Baril
Almonte ON