Cop swaps tough beat for Rochester shop of veggie treats
by Nicola Jordan
Former policeman John Baldock has always had a sweet
But after deciding to become a vegetarian when he was 12, he
found himself with a sticky problem trying to cater for his sugary
Now at the age of 56, John has found a tasty
solution by opening his own sweet shop in Rochester High
And Sweet Expectations has just been declared by the Vegetarian
Society as the only entirely veggie sweet shop in the UK.
John grew up on a farm and chose to give up meat because he
"loved the animals too much".
He said: "When I told my mum she told me I was going
through a funny phase.
"Most people don't know when they buy some red-coloured sweets
they are coloured with cochineal – in other words they are eating
crushed beetles. Now we only sell sweets which contain
Many normal sweets contain gelatin, which is derived from
collagen from animal by-products.
Instead John uses carnauba wax from Brazilian palm leaves and
agar agar from red marine algae.
"Most people don't know when they buy some red-coloured sweets they are coloured with cochineal – in other words they are eating crushed beetles" – John Baldock
"We get coachloads of
people asking which sweets are vegetarian, especially among Asian
people," he added.
John opened up his business 18 months ago after serving 30 years
in the Metropolitan Police Force, 15 of them in London's West
He said: "It was crazy working in Soho, dealing with drugs and I
was on duty the night of the gay pub bomb explosion.
"I wanted to do something completely different. I've always
liked old-fashioned sweet shops with big jars."
John lives with wife Virginia 56, a school IT manager. He said:
"My wife wasn't that keen on it at first. But I love working in
"Of course it's nice having tourists coming in and spending
their money but we also have a lot of regulars coming in now. I
suppose I'm a big kid at heart."
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