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”.

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