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Lucky tattie



I was reminded recently about lucky tatties. These make a relatively late appearance in the Dictionaries of the Scots Language (DSL) with the following definition:


“A candied confection covered in cinnamon powder with a small gift inside".


I remember these as a child. I also recall that they came with a small plastic charm in the middle. However, this was not always the case – sometimes there was financial reward. This was revealed in the very earliest example I have found from the Dundee Evening Telegraph of June 1928 where a young boy gives details of his sweetie of choice:


“I laid my halfpenny on the counter and in answer to Jenny’s smiling query about what I wanted I replied, ‘a lucky tattie’... then, as I nibbled a bit here and a bit there out of the toothsome dainty, I felt my teeth strike on something hard. A closer inspection revealed a brand-new halfpenny”.


Examples from both the Sunday Post of November 1948:


“Lucky Tatties (having the appearance of real spuds and occasionally containing a half-penny)”,


and the Aberdeen Evening Express of October 1955:


”when I was a kid I used to buy Lucky Tatties in the hope of eating my way through to a ha’penny”


show how that the hope of riches continued for quite a time.


These delights were still available until relatively recently, as reported in the Dundee Courier of December 2016 when a superstar rocked up unexpectedly to a sweet shop in Ballater, Aberdeenshire:


“But the 48-year-old [Kylie Minogue] did not go for the lucky, lucky tatties or sample two foam hearts but instead opted for a packet of boiled fruit sweets and a bag of soor plooms”.



This Scots Word of the Week was written by Pauline Cairns Speitel, Dictionaries of the Scots Language