Summers during my childhood were often marked with family trips to Mussoorie, with a stop in Dehradun along the way. Everytime a trip to Mussoorie was planned, I carefully packed a bag and left enough space for the goodies my grandmother would buy me from Ellora’s Bakery in Dehradun. 

My grandmother, grandfather and I would get into a car and be driven for six to eight hours until we reached the foothills of the Himalayas. Dehradun was one of many stops meant for refueling, and perhaps the one I looked forward to the most. I used to dash out of the car and head straight to Ellora’s Bakery, where I enjoyed browsing the shelves stocked with pastries, rusk and my favourite: stick jaw toffees.

Once my grandmother had bought pineapple pastries for my grandfather and enough rusk to feed the whole family, I would shyly point at the stick jaw toffees. Back then, they came in two flavours: caramel and chocolate. I enjoyed both but preferred the chocolate ones. My grandmother would buy me a small pack of the dark brown toffees wrapped in butter paper, saying that any more would be bad for my teeth. 

As soon as we were all back in the car, I would carefully open one toffee and chew on it as I admired the view from the window. Chewing on the chocolate-flavoured toffee released a buttery juice in my mouth, which was pleasantly sweet. The toffee would stick to my teeth and I had to make a real effort to chew it. It was a strenuous exercise for my jaw. One toffee lasted for at least a few minutes, until it dissolved and disappeared in my mouth. 

I used to save the rest of the pack to eat during my trip to Mussoorie. I carried them everywhere, from the Mall Road to restaurants we went to, popping one into my mouth occasionally, savouring every bite. My favourite time to eat them was when it was raining outside and we were indoors. I would look out at the rain with a mouthful of toffee, chewing away to my heart’s content. 

The taste of Ellora’s stick jaw toffees is still vivid in my mind even today. Although I haven’t been to Dehradun in many years, the memories of chewing on these hard, sticky toffees have stayed with me. I hope to be able to visit again one day and relive those times with my family. This time round, however, I’ll be buying many more than a small pack.