It's Parma Violet day... who knew?
Yep. There's now an awareness day for Parma Violets. Here's a bit of history behind the purple pellets
Is there such a thing as 'too many awareness days'?
Not if you're a FoodTribe contributor in the middle of his journalism dissertation, no.
First produced over 70 years ago, Parma Violets have long been a schismatic item of confectionery. Indeed, their manufacturer, Swizzels, describes the taste of the purple discs as "the floral flavour that divides the nation". Personally, I quite like the perfumed taste, as long as it's delivered in very small doses; just a tablet too many leaves one feeling as though they've eye-shotted a bottle of Chanel or competed in a potpourri eating contest.
But regardless of your opinion, here's a bit of history behind one of Swizzels' longest-standing sweets.
They're older than you think
Although originally produced in their current guise in 1946 by Swizzels, then Swizzels Matlow, the act of consuming either violets themselves or violet-based sweets has been around for much, much longer.
Around 2,000 years ago, the Greek physician and botanist, Dioscorides, mentioned the medicinal effects of eating violet leaves. And old Dioscorides wasn't wrong; the leaves contain soluble fibre, which is brilliant for lowering cholesterol, as well as vitamins A and C. They're obviously rather tiny, so you'd have to eat a lot of them to noticeably lower cholesterol but, hey, a good thing is a good thing. The leaves are also known for their anti-rheumatic properties and, among other things, their ability to function as a mild laxative (for any readers who might be a bit bunged up from all the barbecue food).
Swizzels weren't the first to make violet sweets
Not by any means. Parma Violets take their form and fragrance from a type of Indian sweet eaten after dinner. Floral or aromatic cachous were scented lozenges, typically based on aniseed and eaten after a meal or a smoking session to freshen the breath and return one's mouth to smelling dainty.
Someone once decided Parma Violet cheese should be produced
Should they be sectioned? Probably. Need I say more? Certainly not. I feel sick.
They were once voted the most disliked sweet by adult men
A 2005 study which featured in The Guardian showed that most men disliked Parma Violets. The study compared the percentages of men and women who disliked certain childhood confectionery, with 7,500 people asked. For most sweets, the results were pretty positive, with the percentage of men who disliked them falling around or below 50%. But not for our floral pellets. No, Parma Violets were overwhelmingly rejected by men, with 72% saying they didn't like them compared to only 28% of women.
Professor David Booth, who specialised in the psychology of eating, put this down to young boys not liking "girlish" scented sweets and carrying through their opinions into adulthood.
What do you think about Parma Violets? Do you love them or loathe them? Let us know in the comments and remember to check in on the Swizzels Twitter page today for the chance to bag yourself some floral-tasting prizes.