First up, Gobble Monkey visited The Kingdom of Sweets. And what a Kingdom it was! Literally three rows of Pick'n'Mix! And like all Kingdoms, they've had their own rug made for the entrance:
I think they have something similar at Buckingham Palace.
Anyway The Kingdom is full of the sort of rich delights you would expect to find in a magical realm of sweets. Where else would you find the delicious-looking "Orange Surprise"?
Want to know what the "surprise" is? Well it's revealed on the back of the packet in brackets:
Normally I love Orange Coloured Cocoa Butter Based Confectionery, but £3.99 this was a bit pricey.
(I was slightly confused by the Kingdom's exchange rate. They were charging 50p for a Wham bar.)
AND WAIT A SECOND - if this was a Kingdom, then where was the Queen, Barbara Windsor? I was beginning to doubt it was a real Kingdom at all. But then I remembered the carpet.
Oxford Street's second sweet shop is just a one minute walk down the road:
Gobstoppers has the same range of Pick'n'Mix and US imported sweets as the Kingdom, but they've also branched out into branded merchandise down in the basement. They haven't quite managed to out-do M&M's World though. (WHAT IS THROUGH THE ORANGE DOOR? no one knows.)
(I don't think they've sold many of those.)
Anyway, after a good look around, I was just about to leave when something caught my eye:
COULD IT BE?
A PERCY PIG HERE? I was at least 500 yards from the nearest Marks and Spencers. But with no identifying label, I could not be sure if these were Percys, Pig's Mugs, Animal Farm Pig Variants OR SOMETHING ELSE?
I had to buy one, so placed a single 'pig sweet' in one of the paper bags provided and took it to the kindly looking elderly gentleman at the counter. With his wispy grey hair and wizened old face, I theorized he was probably the owner, an eccentric Willy Wonka figure with a secret sweet factory was behind the orange door in the basement.
But when I handed over the paper bag, he looked me as if I had just handed him a chocolate covered dead kitten.
'You can't have just one,' he spat, refusing to place the bag on the weighing machine.
I was slightly taken aback at his pure disgust. But then I remembered - Willy Wonka was a bit evil until the end wasn't he? Surely this was just the sort of test Charlie Bucket had passed so winningly when he returned Wonka's Everlasting Gobstopper...
I was sure that, just like Wonka, this crumpled old miser would reveal his true jovial self the moment I had proved myself ready to receive the keys to the shop and a lifetime's supply of Jelly Belly beans.
Or maybe he just thought I was an undercover M&S operative, collating enough evidence to take him to the supreme court of justice.
'Why do you want just one?' he growled.
WELL. The true answer to this question would have taken at least one hour to explain, and by saying it out loud, could have crystallised the last three months of wasting hours writing nonsense about sweets bringing me weeping to my knees in the middle of the shop, ending the Gobble Monkey phenomenon immediately.
So instead I told him I just wanted to see what they tasted like.
Shoving it back in to my hand with a snarl, he didn't charge me a penny.
Had I passed the test? I waited a moment to see if he would lead me through the orange door into a glass elevator where he would handover the entire Gobstoppers franchise, and together, we'd march on the Kingdom of Sweets, dethrone their Queen and combine the shops via a secret tunnel. THEN RULE OXFORD ST SWEET SHOPS WITH A CANDY FIST! We'd have to get a new rug though.
But instead he just sat there looking bored. I had failed, and left the shop knowing I could never ever return. But at least I wasn't a giant blueberry.
Back home, I was able to study the 'Pig Sweet' more closely. Here it is:
See how it's much brighter in colour than a Percy Pig or a Pig's Mug. It's definitely not an Animal Farm either, as it lacks the distinctive jelly snout. And the taste? It's a lot tougher in texture, but this may be due to being left in the open air of Gobstoppers for months. It's fruity flavour matches the intensity of it's colours, but it's hard to tell which fruit, and ultimately it probably ranks as the worst Percy Imitation so far.
Here's the new line-up:
Fake Percy No.4, Gobstoppers, free
Gobble Monkey says: 3 out of 7
PART TWO here