Graham Lemon's

Graham Lemon's

In Brief

The beginning of Lestrygonians finds Bloom one block north of the Liffey on O'Connell Street, gazing in the windows of a candy shop that the narrative refers to as "Graham Lemon's" but that most people knew as Lemon & Co. A royal license in the shop window prompts Bloom, in an act of comic subversion, to picture the British monarch as a grotesquely overgrown child.

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Looking in the window, Bloom sees "A sugarsticky girl shovelling scoopfuls of creams for a christian brother" and thinks that the teacher must be buying them as a "school treat" for his students. Then he reads the sign announcing that the British crown has officially sanctioned the business: "Lozenge and comfit manufacturer to His Majesty the King." Such licenses were, and still are, liberally granted to makers of high-quality products as marketing boons. Bloom takes this one in a comically literal spirit and imagines His Majesty ("God. Save. Our." noble king, he imagines in his mind's ear) "Sitting on his throne sucking red jujubes white." In Circe King Edward VII shows up doing exactly that. The fantasy is goofy but also fitting, considering Edward's insatiable appetites and copious supply of baby fat.

Some candies, similar to gummy bears, are still sold under the name "jujubes." The name goes back at least to the beginning of the 18th century, having been applied then to candies made from gum arabic, sugar, and fruits from the Ziziphus jujuba tree, called red dates, Chinese dates, or jujubes. I have not run across any records suggesting what exact sort of jujube candies might have been sold in 1904.

Lemon's confectionery opened in 1842 and lasted well into the era of mass-produced sweets, finally going out of business in 1984. The candies were produced by its factory on Millmount Avenue in Drumcondra. Bloom thinks of "Pineapple rock, lemon platt, butter scotch," the first and last of which need no explanation. Lemon platt, also mentioned in the fourth sentence of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, is glossed by Gifford as a "Candy made of plaited sticks of lemon-flavored barley sugar," while Slote cites the definition in the OED: "A flat sugar-stick, flavoured with lemon."

Today, new businesses occupy all the buildings on the first block of O'Connell Street, but above the ground-floor signage for the Foot Locker at number 49 one can still see remnants of the Lemon's shopfront. A sign with several letters missing proclaims "The Confectioners Hall," and a colored shield records the street number and the date of establishment. In 1988 Irish sculptor Robin Buick honored the shop with the first of 14 bronze sidewalk plaques that let pedestrians follow in Bloom's footsteps.

JH 2020
"Manufacturers to His Majesty the King" language on an English twin bed made by Staples & Co., Ltd., announcing the "Royal Warrant" granted to Staples by King George V in 1915. Source:
The same words on a mineral water label of unknown date. Source:
Sheet music of the British anthem published in the October 1745 issue of The Gentleman's Magazine. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
2019 photograph showing old signage for "The Confectioners Hall" of Lemon & Co. above the current business. Embedded in the sidewalk is a bronze plaque commemorating the candy shop's appearance in Ulysses. Source: John Hunt.
2019 photograph of Robin Buick's bronze plaque. Source: John Hunt.