Growing up, my pre-teens and teenage years were very much influenced by both the American and British cultures. Having been in and out of the States and American elementary schools around the world, I was rather unprepared for what awaited me at a private British high school. It was like the clash of the titans in many situations. As George Bernard Shaw said “England and America are two countries separated by the same language”.
Imagine then, how my eleven year old ears burned and my crimson face blushed when a cute English boy in my class, the first week of school, asked me if he could borrow my pencil with the rubber on the end and that he had a bad habit of chewing the rubber off his own pencils. I was so horrified I dropped all the pencils I was holding. Or how perplexed I was when an older 6th Form student told me he wanted to smoke a few fags and was popping around the corner to get them. Then there was the most embarrassing moment when I got invited to my first party and announced to the group of new friends that I would be wearing my favorite pants on the evening. I failed to realize that I had just declared I would be wearing my favorite underpants! Trust me; many eyebrows were raised after my bold announcement.
What a rubber is to an American is a condom to a British person and if one talked about smoking fags where I grew up you’d be discussing killing a homosexual and not inhaling the nicotine filled cigarettes and pants to my British friends were underpants not trousers. After this bumpy beginning, where I had to learn to speak and write a whole new language that I thought I knew, I picked up the intricacies of the British language, finding the satire and dry sense of humor rather refreshing. I adapted myself quickly and ironically found my passion for British literature.
Although there were certain things that I did not like about the British way of life, like the excessive drinking, smoking and swearing, there were some things that got my attention very quickly. One of them was the chocolate variety Britain had to offer. Leaving the overly sweet Hershey bars, Babe Ruths, Reese’s Butter Cups, 3 Muskateers bars behind my chocolate addiction found new divine richness to nibble on. Cadbury’s Bournville, Crunchie or Flakes, Bassettts Wine Gums, Galaxy Caramel and Malteser’s were just a few of the regular products I would spend my pocket money on. However there was one product that provided me with my chocolate satisfaction on a daily basis. I would indulge in its soothing malty and chocolaty caress, wrapped up in the rich, sweet aromas as I did my homework or chatted with my girlfriends on the phone. The warmth of the mug and the sweetness of the delicious scented milk would wash away most of the day’s troubles and Ovaltine quickly became my favorite chocolate indulgence of choice.
For me Ovaltine was always an iconic British product that accompanied me through my teenage years and I believed this misconception for most of those years. I did not realize that it wasn’t just me that had to make language adjustments. Apparently Ovomaltine is a product of Switzerland where it was developed in Berne. In the early 1900s Ovomaltine was exported to Great Britain where a misspelling in the trademark registration led to the product being called Ovaltine in English speaking countries. When I moved to Germany in my early twenties, making this discovery and finding my old – new Ovaltine / Ovomaltine in the stores helped me get through being in a foreign country alone for the first time. Like it did back then it eased and soothed me to adapt to a new strange foreign language I was struggling with.
Today I enjoy seeing Soeren sharing the same affinity for Ovomaltine as I did and still do. Breakfast is never quite the same for him without his warm mug of steaming Ovomaltine and when he said that he wished he could have a birthday cake with his two favorite chocolate treats Ovomaltine and Daim candy I thought why not? A birthday cake made of your favorite childhood candy – now that is a real treat one I hope he shall remember.
A cake with triple the chocolate fun. A rich cocoa powder and the malty-chocolaty Ovomaltine added to the sponge cake is slathered with a creamy and smooth icing also with a sprinkling of Ovomaltine and finally the chopped mini Daim candy bars give the cake the instant praline crunch, making it a dangerous treat for adults too. Grab a slice!
What were your favorite childhood chocolate and candy?
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