Candy-making first became a profession in Scotland in the 17th century, beginning what would become a national love affair with sweets. The first specialist confectioner set up shop in Edinburgh in 1665. Not too long after, women known as “sweetie wives” began strolling the streets selling now-classic candies like Berwick cockles, Hawick balls, and soor plooms.
Soor plooms originated in the southeastern town of Galashiels. With their bright-green color and even brighter acidic taste, these round, boiled sweets rank among the most traditional of Scottish candies.
According to local legend, soor plooms commemorate a skirmish that took place near Galashiels in 1337. One day, a group of local men came across a party of English soldiers busily gorging on unripe wild plums that grew in abundance in the area. Taking them by surprise, the locals pounced upon the gluttonous Southerners, killing them all. Among the bodies lay the unripe fruit: the soor plooms, or sour plums, of legend.
In addition to candy stores around the country, the legendary event is commemorated in another prominent place. The Galashiels coat of arms shows two foxes reaching up to eat plums from a tree, and the town’s motto is “Sour Plums.” You’ll also see the fox and plum tree represented in crests, logos, and even weather vanes around Galashiels.
Need to Know
Soor plooms are sold loose in traditional Scottish sweet shops. They’re often sold in paper bags weighed out by the quarter (a quarter of a pound).