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June 14, 2010 / Nick

Bassett’s Jelly Babies

You often hear people speak with nostalgia at how Starbust used to be called ‘Opal Fruits’ and Snickers used to be called ‘Marathon’. Nobody ever seems to remember those days when Jelly Babies were known as ‘Candied Foetuses’.
But seriously, Jelly Babies haven’t always had that name. Born in Sheffield in 1919, the sweet treats were initially named ‘Peace Babies’ to celebrate the end of the first World War. The name change only came about, ironically, after a second major war.

They’re tasty sweets that look like little people. They should be cutesy and fun. But a dark and twisted regime in UK education has been trying to rob the Jelly Baby of its innocence.

The ‘Screaming Jelly Baby’ experiment is conducted at school open days across the country. In fact, it’s so ubiquitous I can’t really understand why schools try to use it as a selling point for their science department at all anymore. For a Year 6 pupil, by the time they’ve got to the open day at St Elmo’s they might have watched a Jelly Baby combust 6 times previously at other schools in the area.

The worst part is that chemistry departments all over Britain use the experiment to show how fun science can be, and then once you get into school you never do any of the fun science stuff and exploding jelly babies are never seen or heard of again. In all the years I did chemistry at school, I never encountered a single Jelly Baby (We set fire to a Wotsit once in biology but it’s not quite as spectacular). Blowing up Jelly Babies may just be the most elaborate, institutionalised ruse just to get kids into schools that there has ever been.

I reckon that eventually, maybe 15-20 years from now, all the parents will be wise to the screaming Jelly Baby trick and all the kids will be desensitized to what is basically quite tame violence (They’ll have Junior Execution, a 12-week long social experiment reality show, to pump out all the graphic imagery they can handle by then. On Playhouse Disney). And when that day arrives, when an entire audience in a science lab at a school open day are completely blasé about a sweet burning before their eyes, the secondary education system in this country will collapse like a house of cards.

Review: Tasty treats that have fallen pray into Britain’s hugest conspiracy.


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