Monday, May 28, 2012


An amusing article "Candy Cabinet" in the latest issue of my parish's magazine, telling readers about the place where Holden Clifford (201months old) stored the candy he gleaned over Eastertide, brought back memories of "tuck". That's another English word with multiple meanings. "Tuck in" is a variant of "Eat up". Perhaps it is developed from the act of tucking in a bib before eating. The idiom "best bib and tucker" now just means "best clothes", but in the 18th Century they were actually items of women's clothing, not then just used to prevent spilling food on clothing. The British people are very fond of candy, both chocolate and "sweets". These items were still rationed for some years after the end of WWII, and I remember the tremendous buying binge that took place when rationing finally ended. The term "tuck shop", for a store which sold these items, has largely fallen out of use. But "tuck" was still a word widely used when I was a schoolboy. I remember with pride the time when I convinced the headmaster of my prep school (boys aged 8 to 13 ) that we should discontinue the practice of giving each boy a paper bag of sweets.just before the weekly movie show. I suggested that it would be more civilized to place containers of candy on the lunch tables, so that we might eat one or two pieces of candy every day, instead of gorging ourselves on the entire packet of sweets once a week. Each boy at that school had his own "tuck-box", a large wooden container, but these were no longer used to store candy. We were allowed to keep our personal toys, books, and games there, but it was strictly forbidden to retain supplies of candy in those boxes. Nevertheless, the name "tuck-box" survived.

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