Christmas Dodos: Festive Things on the Verge of Extinction

Christmas Dodos: Festive Things on the Verge of Extinction
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From the author of 21st Century Dodos comes a festive collection of endangered objects.An irreverent collection of eulogies, tributes and fond farewells to the many Christmas traditions and, well, other festive things that are threatened with extinction.From handwritten cards to coffee cremes, from Yule logs to thruppenny bits in Christmas puddings, from making paper chain decorations to carol singing, all of these and more are endangered, on the way out or on their last legs……so what better time to celebrate them than Christmas itself.


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What is a Christmas Dodo?

A Christmas Dodo is anything related to the festive season that is in danger of extinction. It might be a tradition that is going out of fashion or an item of food we associate with this time of year. It could be a classic toy or game that is becoming hard to find, or a once-shared experience unlikely to be shared again.

Wassailing, coffee creams, snowball fights in the school playground, paper chains and the Blue Peter advent crown – this book is full of such things. Many, sadly, are already effectively extinct, but there are some that are still around. For now.

I previously wrote a book called 21st Century Dodos, which catalogued a veritable plethora of inanimate objects that could be classed as ‘endangered’, if anyone bothered to class such things. It sold some copies, and a number of readers suggested I pull together a festive version. Here it is.

If this book does nothing else, I hope it at least prompts you to pause and appreciate some of the items mentioned. Perhaps you will want to bid them a fond farewell, raise a glass of Harvey’s Bristol Cream in their honour, or maybe, just maybe, make an effort to restore them to their former glory. Whatever your response, I hope you enjoy this nostalgic look at Christmas past.


This book is essentially a festive extension of my last book, 21st Century Dodos, in which I unearthed over 100 dodos from all walks of life – in the home, at school, at the cutting edge of technology, etc. The Guardian called it ‘chummy 1970s and 80s nostalgia’ which is probably about right. There is no need to have read that book before you read this one, but if you do buy both then I get more royalties and can afford a better class of biscuit to go with my many cups of tea.

Every entry in this book is given a dodo rating of between one and five dodos. This indicates their rarity, ranging from one dodo (still quite common) to five dodos (completely extinct). If my last book is anything to go by then some readers will want to argue with me about the ratings I have allocated each item. Feel free, I love a good scrap. You can email me at [email protected]. I reply to every email I receive.

Some of the entries in this book were suggested by other people via Facebook or Twitter. I have tried to keep dodo discussions going online and was delighted that so many people wanted to contribute ideas to a Christmas Dodos collection. Please feel free to join in the conversation; details of how to do so are at the end of the book. In the meantime, thanks to everyone who chucked ideas my way.

Coffee Creams

We all know that Coffee Creams (or Coffee Cremes, to use their official Cadbury’s Roses title) were the worst chocolate in the tin [ducks as thousands of Coffee Cream fans hurl empty Caramel Barrel wrappers at him], so it was great news when they were discontinued [ducks again as a Caramel Velvet whizzes past his ear]. They join a long line of fillings and flavours that have been dumped, often after sitting happily in our Christmas tin of chocolates for many years.

Here are just a few examples:

Cadbury’s Roses. Praline Moment, Lime Barrel, Montelimar, Coffee Creme, Almond Charm, Chocolate Bite, Chunky Truffle, Bournville, Orange Crisp, Noisette Whirl.

Quality Street. Apricot Delight, Chocolate Toffee Cup, Gooseberry Cream, Montelimar Nougat, Purple One (with brazil nut), Toffee Square, Peanut Cracknell, Milk Chocolate Round, Chocolate Strawberry Cream, Chocolate Truffle, Chocolate Nut Toffee Cream, Hazelnut Cracknell, Coffee Cream, Malt Toffee, Hazelnut Eclair and they even used to have mini-boxes of Smarties at one point.

Milk Tray. Apricot, Marzipan, Violet, Rosewater.

And then there are the selection boxes that are no longer with us either. Do you remember Week-End (chocolates and candies), Dairy Box, Terry’s Moonlight, Black Magic and All Gold?

Suggested by Caroline Smailes

Dodo Rating:

Thruppenny Bits in the Pudding

Ah, that fine festive tradition of chipping your tooth on a thruppenny bit when tucking in to your Christmas pudding. This is now sadly on the wane, not least because there is no such thing as a thruppenny bit* any more.

It is seen as good luck to find the coin, although quite how it can be considered lucky to chomp down on a thick piece of metal, let alone at the risk of swallowing it, I have never understood.

The denomination of the coin has changed as the decades have rolled by, as well as being dependent on the affluence of the pudding maker, but it was usually of a relatively low value. Many families still follow the tradition – I suspect a pound coin is the new choking hazard of choice – but it is nowhere near as common as it once was, with the humble Christmas pud being under threat from Viennettas, Gu Chocolate Soufflés and puddings into which Heston Blumethal has stuffed a whole orange and some Space Dust, or something like that.

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