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A silver box of original strong menthol lozenges. Super

According the latest stats, sales of the strong menthol lozenges, Fisherman’s Friend, were up 28% in December, which for me is surprising since the market for this product I would suggest is somewhat narrow.

Think about this for a while. You’re on your fishing boat in the high seas and the catch isn’t great. You’ve pulled in a few prawns, some cod and a handful of haddock. You’ll make a bit of money at market in the morn’ but not enough to pay the crew.

The weather’s bitterly cold, the sea is unforgiving and spirits are down. You’ve been doing this job for the best part of 20 years since you took over the fishing boat from your father. You were born into this family business and that’s your lot. You look back on those 20 years: at the start of it all you were young and eager but now your beard is grey, your skin weathered and your back is in a permanent state of spasm.

Your crew is demoralised: the fish stocks are low because the Scandinavians have overfished the North Sea – it’s not like it was in the old days when life was one bulging net after bulging net. The future, ’tis bleak.

Then someone hands you a dusty looking rectangle with the corners chopped off from within a packet that’s no bigger than a pin-cushion.

You are invited to put this husk-like tablet into your mouth and suck. Once your saliva has eroded the dusty surface you will enjoy the taste of aniseed-flavoured granite.

This is your best friend ever.