IT IS the "end of an era" said grandmother Jenny Kitching on the demise of the original Smartie tube.

After nearly 70 years, the much-loved tube will be replaced with a six-sided cardboard package designed to catch the eye of modern youngsters.

The plastic cap will also disappear, replaced with a flip-up lid - mischievous school children will no longer be able to fire the cap at teachers by slamming the middle of the tube.

Smarties makers, Nestl Rowntree said the switch was down to branding. It is hoped the design will keep Smarties "fresh and interesting".

It is not the first re-branding. The little, brightly-coloured, saucer shaped confections were named Chocolate Beans when they hit sweet stands in 1937. A year later, the sugarcoated chocolate drops were renamed Smarties.

The so-called hexatube will appear in stores during the summer. But what do consumers think? We asked shoppers in Worcester to find out.

"It's quite sad - the end of an era," said Mrs Hitching, aged 62, of Kempsey.

"I can remember Smartie tubes when my son was a child. We wrote to the makers once, asking why they didn't make blue Smarties. I see that they do now."

"I think it will make a difference to sales. It's a change and here we are talking about it, so more people will buy it" said Jason Towers, aged 30, from Bath Road, in Worcester.

Tom and Amelia Webb had different views on which tube was best.

"I like the look of the hexagonal tube best, but it's what's is insides that matters. I hope they can get more in the new tube," said Tom, aged seven.

His six-year-old sister said the round tube was better.

Teenager Tom Buckley of Oxford, agreed: "I think it is good to change and be a bit different sometimes.

"It will be a shame the plastic cap which you could fire out the end won't be included anymore."

Grandma Marjorie Merell, aged 65, from Pennhill Crescent, St John's said: "It's sad that those round tubes will disappear, but I'm sure sales will be that same.

Her grandson, Sam, said he used to the collect the lettered ends.

"On the end of the tubes there used to be alphabetical letters. I never collected them all, but it's a shame they won't be there anymore," he said.

Fans have been assured the eight colours - red, orange, yellow, green, mauve, pink, brown and blue - will not change.

Collectively, we eat 16,000 Smarties, or tuck into 307 tubes, each minute. Nestl, makes 9,500 tons of Smarties a year.

Slumber swag to aid a restful night's sleep

WITH almost a quarter of the population frequently experiencing sleeping problems, how can we go about getting a good night's kip?

Symptoms of insomnia typically include taking more than 45 minutes to get to sleep, difficulty staying asleep, waking early and feeling tired in the morning.

Statistics have shown that daytime sleepiness can double the chance of having an accident while operating machinery or driving and insomniacs have an increased risk of dying from cancer, heart disease or stroke.

There are several things people affected by insomnia can do to help themselves, such as avoiding cat-naps during the day, reducing cups of coffee, tea or cola drinks, cutting back on alcohol, quitting smoking and taking more exercise.

But what products are out there that could help?

n Spritz your pillows and bed-linen with the scent of lavender and olive or cedar and lime tree for that freshly laundered feeling, with Pillow Mist (left) £16, from The White Company, stockists 0870 900 9555 or www.thewhite

n Over-the-counter treatments, such as sedative antihistamines and promethazine are effective but stay in the body for a long time and can cause a hangover effect in the morning.

n There is some scientific evidence that herbal remmedy, valerian, is effective. Passiflora and wild lettuce extract are also traditionally used.

n Take the chill off with these ladies cashmere bed socks, £25 each, from Pickett, mail order 020 7493 9072 or

n White noise is a sound frequency or signal, similar to the sound of wind rustling through trees, a waterfall, radio static or the ocean surf. White sound CDs are on sale in music shops and are intended to help lull us into a deep sleep.

n Sure to give a good night's sleep, Elyse pillowcase, £12 and double duvet cover, £50, Orla pink cushion £20 and double bedspread £150, all from Laura Ashley. For stockists, call 0871 2302301.