Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Sweet Tooth Scots

The Scots eat more sweets than any other people in the world. Only the Swiss come a close second. Traditionally our eating habits were fairly bland and seasonless but all that changed when sugar started to be shipped in bulk from the West Indies in 1680. Tablet and fudge became firm favourites in Scotland and a tradition of boiling became established with many of the recipes have remained unchanged for hundreds of years. The boiled sweets we eat today are almost identical to those made in Victorian times by Sweetie Wives who made them at home and sold them on the streets.

Tablet and Fudge
Tablet (taiblet in Scots) is a medium-hard, sugary confection first described in the early 18th Century .The traditional recipe used sugar and cream, whereas condensed milk and butter have replaced the latter in modern tablet. The mixture is boiled to a soft-ball stage then allowed to crystallize. It can be flavoured with vanilla or whisky, and sometimes has nut pieces in it. Tablet differs from fudge in that it has a brittle, grainy texture, where fudge is much softer. Tablet should be more firm than fudge but not as hard as hard candy. Tablet was commonly made for the bairns.

Sweetmeats were sugary foods in general, including pieces of flavoured candy and sugar-covered nuts and spices, products of medieval theories on the medicinal value of sugar. Prior to the discovery of sugar preparing sweetmeats of honey was common practice in antiquity. Honey was used to coat fruits, flowers, and the seeds or stems of plants, to preserve them. After the Fall of the Roman Empire the art of sweetmeat making was almost lost. Candy Sugar began to appear in the first half of the 9th century Iran and India . Sugar crystals were grown as a result of cooling supersaturated sugar solutions. In order to accelerate crystallization, confectioners later learned to immerse small twigs in the solution for the crystals to grow on. The sugar solution was colored with cochineal and indigo and scented with ambergris or flower essence and often referred to as rock candy. At the height of the Middle Ages sweetmeats again reappeared on the tables of the wealthy and married spices and sugar. By the Middle Ages physicians had learned how to mask the bad taste of their medicines with sweetness. The first sweetsmeats were consumed as a sort of medical treatment for digestive troubles. Conserves and preserves (fruit preserved in sugar) eventually became their own type of food and it was only when confectioner’s sugar (the finest grade of powdered sugar) became available to European confectioner in the early 18th century that consuming sweetmeat as a candy treat became widespread.

Back in the Middle Ages candy making was a rare outlet for feminine creativity and nuns made pastries and fruit shaped sweets from almond paste before painting them for decoration. These were sold and the monies used to self fund the day to day running of the nunneries. Marzipan and chocolate dainties became popular in the late 15th century and Royalty and aristocrats enjoyed grandiose displays of confectionary as table decoration. The establishment of candy making as a profession occurred in the 17th century. The masters of sweet making in the British Isles were the Scots. Edinburgh got its first continental confectioner in 1665, when an Italian set up shop.

Candy making books started to appear from this time including Francois Massialot Le Cuisinier Royal et Burgeois (The Royal and Middle Class Cook) (1691); and The Household Book of Lady Grisell Baillie by Lady Grisell Baillie (1733). She was the first to apply the term tablet to candy and includes “making tablet for the bairns.” Sugar gifts became the love token of the romantic. By the nineteenth century a great array of candies were available. These included fudge, peanut brittle, popcorn balls, pralines, spruce gum, milk chocolates, chewy fruit jujubes, gumdrops, and lozenges. Henry Wetherly wrote “A treatise in the art of boiling sugar” (1864) and described the Tom Trot or Butter Scotch humbugs, suckers, toffee brittle. Lemon barley is one of the oldest sweets along with acid drops. In 1892 there was a magazine published entitled “The correct art of candy making.”

West Indian sugar was imported to west coast ports with the intention of refining it before selling it onto the Europeans. Ports like Greenock became known as "Sugarapolis" but only one fifth of the refined sugar was ever re-exported as the home population developed a taste for all things sweet. This included sugar in tea. By 1878, 16 of Scotland's 17 sugar refineries were around Glasgow. It was in Greenock, Abram Lyle (1820 – 1891), later of Tate and Lyle, invented Golden Syrup, as a way of using up surplus sugar at a time of glut. The town also houses Drysdale &Gibb the largest sweet factory in Scotland.

As the price of refined sugar dropped local women bought it to make sweets. Known as the ‘sweetie wives,’ they added fruit or spices to the sugar in secret receipts before boiling the mixture in copper pans' and making them into sweets. The women took to selling their wares at markets and soon every town, village and street had their own sweetie wives (A Scots term for a gossipy person) with exotic names like Candy Kate, Sweetie Annie, or Taffie Knott. Some of the most famous Sweetie Wives came from the Scottish Borders and strolled the streets and markets selling Hawick Balls (dark brown peppermint flavoured boilings), Soor Plumbs (green balls with an acidic astringent tang), and Berwick cockles (Peppermint flavoured with white and pink stripped cockle shell shaped sweet).

Glass jars, tins and wrappers
These were small, cylindrical containers and were introduced in the seventeenth century. They were expensive, limited to wealthy households or enterprises. Glass jars become more commonly used in sweet shops as much for display as convenience. The jars had lids for sweets and comfits and were the perfect medium to show off the bright colours and clarity of newly fashionable, transparent acid and fruit drops in the 1830s and '40s. From 1850s onwards airtight tins were introduced for toffees. These were coveted and collected in their own right. Commemorative versions were produced for national events, or the patterns designed so that a set of tins with themed pictures was available. Boiled sweets were sold by weight and served in triangular paper bags. Better confectioners began to use paper wrappers with cut or fringed ends twisted around sweets. Most sweets were sold by street venders. Commercially produced toffees were individually wrapped.

They proved popular, kept well, and sold at a lower price than chocolate while maintaining a luxurious image. This was done partly by advertising and packaging.

Boilings and Toffees
In some places preparing boilings gave the local lads and lassies an opportunity to meet and was strongly associated with courtship. In the 1840s young people gathered at candy bakes and candy pulls to help stretch the candy between them. These became known as candy bakes and candy pulls. Boilings became allied with parishioners because church goers could concentrate their attention on the sermon as they chewed their favourite toffee. Boilings were sold loose by weight in paper bags, traditionally in "quarters. "i.e. a quarter of a pound.

Hawick Balls
Hawick Balls or Taffy Rock Bools originated in the border town of Hawick. They are bullet (musket) shaped boiled sweets with a particular butter and minty fresh taste. Hawick Balls have a hard crunch setting whereas traditional sweeties from Borders towns have a rock-like texture. Traditionally these boiling were made from a recipe of sugar, sugar syrup, butter and oil of peppermint. The significance of the bullet shape relates to the bravery of young men of Hawick who following the defeat at the Battle of Flodden Field (1513) bravely fought the English army who rampaged and plunder defenseless towns. The brave youths of Hawick took on the English hordes and beat them taking the English ensign as a trophy. To this day, a horseman with the flag still rides the boundaries of Hawick once a year to mark the territory. The first Hawick Balls were made in the town in the 1850s by Jessie McVittie and Aggie Lamb. Apparently they used to ‘pull’ the boiled sugar mix by hanging it over a nail and allowing gravity to stretch it out. They continued the process until the mixture was right to set. A great fan of Hawick Balls was celebrity rugby commentator Bill McLaren who was seldom without a packet of his favourite sweets. He later confessed to using his favourite confectionary to start conversations, elicit information and garner gossip that would then be added to the detailed information he used to support his rugby commentary. Another townsman who treasures Hawick Balls is yachtsman Chay Blyth and the sweets are also favoured by local rugby players. Hawick Balls are now commercially produced in Greenock.

Soor Plooms
A Soor ploom is a sharp flavoured, round, green boiled sweet originally associated with Peebles and Galashiels. In 1337 a raiding party from England were overwhelmed and killed by local men when they were discovered eating unripe plums or "Soor Plooms." Hence forth the moto of Galashields was Soor Plooms. The popular boilings commemorate this event .

Berwick cockles
Made in Berwick-on-Tweed since 1801, the cockle-shells shaped boilings are pail fawn with red stripes, and mildly flavoured with peppermint. They were invented by William Cowe and were originally hard candy but have subsequently become more crumbly. The Cowe family started making and selling their sweets from Berwick Cockle Shop, Bridge Street in 1886.

The Lowry etching shows the end of Bridge Street and the grocer’s shop of Wm Cowe & Sons. Until the shop closed in 2010 it had remained little changed since the Cowe family took over the premises.

Moffat Toffee
Moffat toffee is not a traditional toffee but a boiled sweet made in Moffat. The confection has a sweet caramel flavour on the outside with a notable tangy and sweet centre. Traditionally it was an old family recipe is thought to have been used for the first time commercially by Janet Cook Johnstone around the late 19th century. It was made by hand in batches of about 7 lbs (3 kilos) at the time and sold in uncut flat rounds of varying sizes.

Coultart’s Candy (Coulter's Candy)

Robert Coultart (1832–1880) was a mill worker in Galashiels and made aniseed-flavoured toffee in his house in Melrose. He sold Coultart’s Candy at fairs and markets all around the Borders. To call the children to buy his sweets he cleverly played his whistle and made up his song called Coultard’s Candy. The confectioner was an imposing figure standing tall with his Balmoral bonnet and pheasant’s feather sticking straight up from a buckle above his ear. He carried his stock of the famous candy in a shiny black bag slung over his shoulder held. Coultarts’s excentric behaviours had the local children transfixed and his song was so popular many new verses were added with generations of mothers singing it to their babies as a lullaby. Since the 1960s the song Ally Bally Bee has been recorded by many artists. The receipt for the original hard boiled sweet (Coultart’s Candy) is long lost but a modified confection is now available in fudge, toffee and boiled varieties (Ally Bally Bees Ltd) .

Further Reading
Ewan McVicar (2007) 'Doh Ray Me, When Ah Wis Wee'.

Toffee (Taffy)
Food historians generally agree taffy/toffee first became popular in the 1800s although toffee made from treacle was known to the Romans. The earliest written reference to taffy in the Oxford English Dictionary dates to 1817, toffee is a variation and was first seen in 1825. Made from sugar, butter, and flavorings, the chewy texture is obtained by twisting and pulling the cooked ingredients until it becomes aerated leaving a light fluffy mix. Different mixes, processes, and temperatures, all result in different textures and hardnesses, from soft and often sticky to a hard, brittle material. Toffee can be mixed with many different ingredients to produce a variety of flavors: rum and butter, chocolate covered, vanilla and chocolate, rum and raisin, raspberry, and honeycomb.

Highland Toffee

Cowans highland toffee oor ither national treasure, like irn bru an fried mars bars,
it gies fowk lots o pleisur.
Nane o thon jessie jelly beans, miget gems or cherry lips,
Gie us something that clamps yer teeth the gither, an adds inches tae yer hips.

Nae curlywurlys or sherbet dabs, or cissy sweeties please,
Gie me something that dislocates ma jaw,
An draws fillings, like shelling peas.

Nae sweet bon bons , or milky ways, nae slabs o turkish delight
Gie me something that tones up jaw muscles
Makes a death grip o yer bite

Gie me something tae keep in mae pocket
Something tae pick aff the fluff.
Gie me a Cowans highland toffee bar
Confectioneries heavy stuff.

Cowans Highland Toffee (the ain wi the coo) by Bruce Clark Dick (Forfar Scotland)

McCowan's was established in 1922 by Andrew McCowan and manufactured its flagship brand Highland Toffee in Stenhousemuir, one of Scotland's best loved sweets, for more than 80 years. The company originally began life making lemonade but when Mrs McCowan started selling her toffee and the confection proved more successful than the lemonade it soon became the primary product. Within a decade and a half, McCowan was producing a variety of confections including tablet, rock, snowballs, lollypops, macaroon as well as McCowan’s Highland Toffee. In 1959 the company was sold to Nestlé but continued to trade under its old name. In 2005 McCowans ceased to exist as an independent company and merged with John Millar & Sons to become Millar McCowan. Whilst the firm struggled with restructuring costs it eventually closed in Stenhousemuir. Highland Toffee is now made in York after Tangerine Confectionery bought the brands.

Jethart snails
These were originally made in Jedburgh (Jeddart/Jethart is an early form of Jedburgh). The dark brown toffees with a peppermint flavor were reportedly made first by a French prisoner of War during the Napoleonic Wars when he was seconded to a local bakers.

Opal Fruits

Opal Fruits (now rebranded as Starburst) were box-shaped, fruit-flavored soft taffy chews manufactured by The Wrigley Company, a subsidiary of Mars, Incorporated. Introduced by Mars inyp the UK in 1959, the four original flavors were strawberry, lemon, orange, and lime. Lime was later replaced with cherry. In the 1970s Opal Fruits were well known for their advertising tag line "Opal Fruits - made to make your mouth water!" .

The brand name 'Opal Fruits' was phased out in favour of Starburst. Starburst chews are suitable for vegetarians and do not contain any artificial colours or flavors.


Butterscotch is made from brown sugar (or treacle) and butter, although other ingredients such as corn syrup, cream, vanilla, and salt are part of some recipes. It is similar to toffee, but for butterscotch the sugar is boiled to the soft crack stage, and not hard crack as with toffee. No one is sure where the name came from but one explanation is ‘scotch’ is a word meaning "to cut or score." Butterscotch must be cut into pieces, or "scotched", before hardening. The most famous Butterscotch comes from Doncaster and has been made there since 1848 by rival confectioners S. Parkinson & Sons (Doncaster) , and Henry Hall and Booth's of Doncaster. Parkinson's was recognized as the inventor. Today Butterscotch sweets are commercially produced and flavoured with artificial butterscotch flavor. Keillers of Dundee made quality butterscotch.


“Quelle est cette odeur agreeable
That’s wafted on the air?
The perfume of Arabia
Cannot with it compare
What makes the crowds of Melbourne Place
With wide stretched nostrils flock?
Its Ferguson who’s boiling up
His Edinburgh rock”

Edinburgh Rock was first discovered accidently by Alexander (sweetie sandy) Ferguson in the 19th Century after he found a tray of discarded candy and tasted it. Sweetie Sandy was born in Doune,Perthshire in 1789. He learned the confectionery trade in Glasgow then moved to Edinburgh and named his discovery in honour of the famous castle rock. Alexander’s Edinburgh rock is an amalgamation of whipped egg whites, Edinburgh root, vanilla extract, and sugar and cream of tartar. It is often flavoured with ginger or lemon and made into sticks which are brittle and soft in texture. It is a different product from traditional seaside rock which is made with granulated sugar and glucose syrup. Edinburgh Rock is more crumbly and powdery.

Another distinctive rock is star rock (aka starry rock), or "starrie." This was invented in the 19th Century by a blind man called David Ferguson from Brechin. Star rock (starry rock, or starrie) is traditionally handmade in Kirriemuir, Angus. It is made from golden syrup and tastes of toffee. Like Edinburgh it is less hard and brittle than seaside rock. Star Rock is made in individual swirled (twisted) sticks about 10 centimeteres long with the diameter of an HB pencil. The cross section of the twisted stick is thought to be the origin of the name ‘star.’ Starrie is sold in bundles. Freguson opened The Star Rock Shop in 1833 in Kirriemuir and it is still operating today.

Other towns had similar sweety shops most of which are now long closed. Neighbouring town Fofar for example had its own Rock Shop owned by Peter Reid. In Dundee there was also had a rock shop which sold its own distinctive rock.

Often the impact and importance of favoured sweeties found their way into local street songs and poems. "Wee O'Hara," for example seems to have originated during the South African Boer War (1899-1902) and was sung to the tune of the military march, " Grenadier Guards".

Patriotic Sweets
There was an interesting connection between professionally manufactured candy products of the 19th century and military campaigns. Many pulled-sugar recipes showed the influence of the Napoleonic Wars on confectionery fashions. ‘Wellington Sticks' were striped red, blue and yellow; Nelsons Balls which were pink or white pellets.; "Buonaparte's ribs' were striped sweets cut in sticks and flattened. Gibraltar rock' and North Pole' were made from sugar which was divided into batches, some coloured red and some plain, some pulled and some left clear, assembled in patterns, pulled out and cut; the resulting sticks were then put together in a bundle, cased with more sugar and pulled out again. During World War II, American confectionery companies crafted hard candies shaped like guns, soldiers and tanks.

From antiquity mint was always valued for several medical reasons. It was considered to aid digestion (flatulence) as well as freshen the mouth . Mint was also thought by some as an aphrodisiac. Mint confectionary dates back to the Renaissance when sugar became more readily available. Mint flavoured boiled sugar sweets (or peppermints) were developed in the 19th century. When pepper mint oil or aniseed is formed into candy it allows a slow release of soothing flavors have long been used to soothe queasy stomaches, quell coughs, aid digestion, and administer medicine. The process of making mint flavoured candies was known in the 17th century. A "scotch mint" "*Granny Sooker," or "pan drop" was a white round candy with a hard shell but soft chewy middle. Scotch mints were traditionally spheroids, more recently moving toward a larger, discoid shape. John Millar and Sons was founded in 1884 in Leith by a baker. Millars became widely known for its Mints (pan drops) and other types of panned or boiled confectionery. Another Edinburgh sweet maker James Ross started selling sweets from a small sweet shop, near the University in Edinburgh in 1880. Later James’s son Andrew expanded the business after the First World War and started supplying other shops mainly with traditional tablet. When sugar was rationed during World War II people wanted boiled sweets that lasted longer in the mouth. Ross developed Pandrops, and other boilings. The business is still owned and run by the Ross family.

*Granny Sooker - so named because when you suck on it, the sour flavours made the face looks like an old granny's.

Mint imperials are similar in appearance to scotch mints but their content is hard and crumbly rather than chewy.

Breath mints are a subclass of mints consumed for non-nutritive purposes, primarily to freshen the smell of one's breath. Breath mints work by masking offensive odors with the scent of mint or other flavoring, and by stimulating the flow of saliva to help remove food and bacterial debris from the mouth. Most breath mints are produced in a hard candy, boiled sweet, or compressed sugar style.

Humbugs have been around since the 1820s and are boiled sweet peppermint made from a mixture of sugar, glycerine, colour and flavouring. After heating the mixture is poured and stretched before being folded many times. Humbugs are usually striped in two different colours (often black and white). The stripes originate from a smaller piece of coloured mixture which is folded in to the main mixture. The mixture is finally rolled in to a long, thin cylinder and sliced into segments. Typically cylinders end with a 90-degree turn.

Bulls Eye (or bullets) are similar to humbugs and have black (sometimes red) and white strips but are made in spheres. These are peppermint flavored (or aniseed)and are also known as bullets as the traditional shape is similar in size to smoothbore musket balls.

Horehound Rock
Many traditional boilings contained medicinal properties and were associated with healing. The pleasant taste (sugar, lemon or mint) allowed the slow release of herbs etc into the system bringing relief to sore throats, digestive problems and relieve of inflammation. Modern cough drops descend from the lozenge candy tradition. Horehound is a form of mint and was known to have medicinal properties which have been incorporated into homemade sweets and rock for centuries.

An aniseed twist is a red, aniseed-flavoured boiled sweet. Aniseed flavoured chews were made by Trebor Bassett in the 1920s. These were wrapped in paper which showed gollywogs on it. Black Jacks have since been rebranded by Tangerine Confectionery after they were bought from Scottish confectioner Millar McCowan, which recently entered administration.

Fruit Drops
These were small round confections originally made by 'dropping' a mixture in rounds to set. This type of comfit descended from earlier fruit confections including medicinal lozenges. Drops are composed of aromatic refined sugar only but require much care and cleanliness in the making. Acid drops (a contraction of acidulated drops) are small clear sweets made from sugar boiled to the hard crack stage and with the addition of tartaric acid to give a sour flavor. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, extra acid in the form of vinegar or tartaric acid were added to boiled sugar. Pear drops were a popular sweet, coloured half-red, half-yellow, roughly pear shaped and flavoured with jargonelle pear essence, or synthetic pentyl acetate. Arguably the most favoured fruit drop today is lemon drops. Acid, fruit, and gum drops are all still produced. Chocolate is also made into drops.

These massed produced boiled sweets were introduced in the UK just prior to the end of rationing in the 50s. Spangles required only one ration point instead of the two required for other sweets and chocolate. This gave the product a distinct advantage. Made by Mars from 1950 to the early 1984s, the original Spangles contained a variety of translucent, fruit flavoured sweets: strawberry, blackcurrant, orange, pineapple, lemon and lime. The sweets were square with rounded corners and a dimple in the middle of each side. Originally they were unwrapped but later cellophane wrapped and they came in a tube.

Spangles were immensely popular and Mars introduced Old English Spangles and the tube was black, white and purple. The flavours were of traditional boiled sweets including liquorice (black), mint humbug (brown), pear drop (orange/red), aniseed (green) and treacle (opaque mustard yellow), other flavours appeared from time to time. Spangles were briefly reintroduced in 1995 but the Tunes brand is the only remaining relation of the Spangles brand, sharing the shape and wrapping of the original product.

Luckie Tatties

Cinnamon coated lucky tatties with a white fondant sweet centre used to contain a very small charm inside each of them. Due to health and safety the charms have been removed. They contain a mixture of sugar, glucose, flavoured with cassia, and colours. The lucky tattie covered with cinnamon powder.

A remember a braw wee sweetie
frae back in ma childhood day
bit...a couldnae remembur the name o' it
much tae ma dismay.

Always, oin a Friday night
ma da bought us weans a treat
an a wid hop frae fit tae fit
till a goat ma special sweet.

Then, savour it's delights an' suck
till it wiz nearly done
an' oot came the wee treasure
a lucky charm wiz always fun (found)

Bit a couldnae remembur the name o' it
an that made me offae ratty
then the penny finally drapped
it wiz a lucky tattie.

Hellon (Australia)

Sherbet (from the Arabic word "sharba”) is a powder based substance which became popular as a fizzy confectionary at the beginning with the 19th century. These were cheap versions of original sherbet fruit cocktails imported from the Middle East since medieval times. These were refreshingly cool effervescent or iced fruit soft drinks.

There were two types of sherbet confectionary i.e. sherbet dip using a lollypop; and sherbet fountain using a liquorice strip.

The Sherbet Fountain was originally made by Barratt and sold since 1925. The original paper packaging had a liquorice stick poking through the end. The top of the stick was intended to be bitten off to form a straw and the sherbet sucked through it, where it fizzes and dissolved on the tongue. After 84 years the Sherbet Fountain is no longer packaged in paper, but sold in plastic containers with a solid liquorice stick included. The sherbet is either licked off the liquorice stick or eaten directly.

A very popular form of eating sherbet was Flying saucers. These were small dimpled discs of edible rice paper (coloured) with contained a mouthful of unflavoured sherbet. These were first were produced in the 1960s to commemorate the Sputnik Race. At one time fizzy flying saucers were voted the most popular child’s sweet.

Swizzles, Love Hearts, New Refreshers and Parma Violets
Operations began in the early 1920s at a market stall in Hackney, London, with Maurice and Alfred Matlow selling jellied sweets. They built a small factory in East London in 1928 and became known as Matlow Brothers, producing jellies and chews. Later in 1933 they expanded and introduced Swizzles (i.e. fizzy sweets in compressed tablet form) along with Rainbow Drops, a brand of sugar-coated cereal-type puffed maize and rice confectionery. Rainbow Drops were coloured orange, pink, purple, green and yellow and sold in bags of 80 g, 25 g or 10 g. Originally Swizzles were packed by hand but after World War II the process was mechanized. The company introduced Love Hearts in 1954 and in the following year New Refreshers was launched. In the former there wear initially 30 messages stamped on individual sweets and over the years the outdated ones like ‘Hey Daddio', and 'Far Out, Man' were replaced with more modern ones such as ‘Email Me.’ More than seven million Love Hearts are made every day, stamped with 134 different messages from 'My Girl' to 'It's Love' to 'I'm Shy', which the family are mainly responsible for coming up with.

New Refreshers proved a very popular chew and got its name to avoid trademark confusion with Barratt’s compressed tablet . Soon after in 1957 the company introduced a chewy lolly called Drumstick.

Later Parma Violets were added to their range and these were hard, bi-concave disc-shaped sweets, similar to Fizzers ( a fruity fizz sweet), but without their fizziness.

In the 70s the popularity of Kojak (TV) series with his trademark sucking on a lolly led to a huge rise in the export of Double Lollie. Swizzels Matlow is now the largest independent family-owned confectionery company in Britain, producing 250 lines of sweets, employing 600 people and with a turnover of more than £40 million a year.

Liquorice (Greek for sweet root) is the root of Glycyrrhiza glabra from which a sweet flavour can be extracted. The liquorice-root extract contains the natural sweetener glycyrrhizin, which is over 50 times sweeter than sucrose. The extract is combined with sugar, water, gelatin, and flour to give a malleable black or brown paste, which is tough and chewy. Liquorice flavour is found in a wide variety of liquorice candies or sweets. In most of these candies the taste is reinforced by aniseed oil so that the actual content of liquorice is very low. Pontefract in Yorkshire was the first place where liquorice mixed with sugar began to be used as a sweet called Pontefract cakes. During manufacturing, the ingredients are dissolved in water and heated to 135 °C (275 °F). In order to obtain sweets of the desired shapes like pipes cable and long bootlaces for example, the liquid is poured into molds that are created by impressing holes into a container filled with starch powder. Once dried the resulting sweets are sprayed with beeswax to make their surface shiny.

Pontefract cakes are small roughly circular black sweets made of liquorice. Originally, the sweets were embossed by hand with a stamp, to form their traditional look. The embossed stamp was originally a stylised image of Pontefract Castle with a raven on the top bar, which is thought to have been in use for almost 400 years.

Barratt’s sweets started their Wood Green factory in north London in 1848 when George Osborne Barratt created ‘lock jaw’ toffee. It remained a family-owned firm for more than 130 years when production moved to Bassetts of Sheffield.

Liqorice allsorts were first produced in 1899 in Sheffield, England, by Geo. Bassett & Co Ltd who had taken over Wilkinsons (Pontefract cakes). They consist of assorted liquorice sugar candies sold as a mixture and are made of liquorice, sugar, coconut, aniseed jelly, fruit flavourings, and gelatine. Legend has it Charlie Thompson, a sales representative, dropped a tray of samples just before he was about to show a client. He scrambled to re-arrange them and the client was intrigued by the new creation. Quickly the company began to mass-produce the allsorts and they became very popular. During the 1970s the sweets were promoted in television commercials with the slogan: "All sorts love Allsorts and Bassett's make 'em best!"

Barratt's produced a range of sweets including sherbet fountains and sweet cigarettes. When attitudes to smoking changed by the end of the 1970s, sweet cigarettes became 'candy sticks' and the red tip disappeared. The company merged with Trebor (mints) before being taken over by the Cadbury's consortium.

Dolly Mix
Dolly Mix (often mistakenly called Dolly Mixtures) consists of a variety of multi-coloured fondant shapes e.g. cubes, cylinders and rectangles with subtle flavourings. These are made into a single or multiple layers of colors.The mixture combines small soft sweets and sugar-coated jellies. The origins of the name remains unknown, but some speculate it originated around the time of the British Raj in India. Dal or Dahl in India is a mixture of beans, peas, or legumes which are often made up of different sizes and colours. Over time the name Dhal Mixture is thought to have led to Dolly Mixture. Critics consider this rather romantic notion and prefer 'dolly' just meant small. Started to be produced in the 20s the original sweets were pale in colour, coming in light pinks, yellows, browns, and whites; however, modern dolly mixtures have much more vibrant colours and include purples, reds, and greens, although the shapes remain much like the traditional. Dolly Mix was originally produced and sold under the Barratt brand, now owned by Tangerine Confectionery. Dolly mix contains sugar, glucose syrup, and beef gelatin in addition to modified maize starch and vegetable oil. It also contains citric acid, flavorings, and fat-reduced cocoa. Colourings are an important part of the mixture with spinach extract as a surprise ingredient. A glazing agent, such as beeswax pectin, is also used.

ABC Alphabet sweets

Assortment fruit flavoured candy sweets in the shape of letters of the alphabet were fun for spelling out love messages to your beloved, or rude messages to your annoying sibling.

Sugar -ally sticks and sugar-ally watter

Sugar-ally sticks
Sugar –ally watter
Black as lum!
Scare up your pennies
You can all have some!


These were brittle black licorice sticks principally used for chewing and were popular for many centuries. In 1885, there were ten companies in the UK producing the sticks but when imports started to arrive from the West Indies local growers could no longer compete. The chews were initially used as mouth freshioners and confection. Children would crumble the stick into a powder and add it to a glass of hot water before leaving it overnight to form a sweet liquorice water. Sugar–ally watter was known in the late nineteenth century and much favoured in the days when flavoured aereated waters were less available, rationed, or too expensive.

Gobstoppers (Jawbreakers)
In the latter half of the nineteenth century Ball Allan became The Candy King of Glasgow became the famous “sweetie man” invented cheugh (chewy) jeans. The early gob stopper consisted of a chewy toffee made with sugar and butter and flavoured with cloves, cinnamon, peppermint and ginger. Modern gobstoppers vary in size between 1 cm to 3 cm across and traditionally are very hard. The sweet had a number of layers, each layer dissolving to reveal a different colored (and sometimes differently flavoured) layer, before dissolving completely. The object was sucked or licked, being too hard to bite without risking dental damage (hence jawbreaker). As gobstoppers dissolve very slowly, they last a very long time in the mouth, which is a major factor in their enduring popularity with children. The confectionary has sold for over a century and may have originated in the US. Gobstoppers are made in large, rotating, heated pans. The candies take several weeks to manufacture, as the process of adding liquid sugar is repeated multiple times. Colour and flavour are also added during the panning process. The crucial ingredient is sugar and is made by the hot pan process. These are huge spherical copper kettles with a wide mouth and rotate constantly over a gas flame so the sugar inside is kept tumbling.

The manufacture of food-grade gelatin (aka gelatine) traces back to the 18th century when in 1754, the first English patent for the manufacture of gelatin was granted. J and G Company of Edinburgh started to make unflavored, dried gelatin in 1842 and three years later was exporting Cox Gelatin to the United States. The first U.S. patent for a gelatin dessert came in the same year. Cox (of Scotland) were already making other kinds of convenience gelatin products. Fruit jellies slowly gained popularity on dinner tables.

Jelly beans are a small bean-shaped type of sugar candy with a soft candy shell and a gel interior which come in a wide variety of flavors. They came from the sweet meats of the Middle East i.e. Turkish Delight (rahat lokum) a sweet, gummy, fruit-flavored molded candy, coated in powdered sugar. The name Turkish delight itself is first recorded in 1877. After the introduction of corn syrup and man-made gelatine (for the jelly) in the 19th century it was possible to mass produce candies cheaply. Jelly beans, fruit gums, decorative chews, and chewing gum are natural iterations along this culinary theme.

Jelly beans developed in the USA although there is no history of where and when they were first produced. The commercial production of jelly beans has changed little since the candy was first developed in the late nineteenth century. Jelly beans were poplar by 1861 when Boston confectioner William Schrafft urged people to send his jelly beans to soldiers during the American Civil War. Most jelly beans are sold as an assortment of around eight different flavors, most of them fruit based. The colours of jelly beans often correspond with a fruit and a "spiced" flavor. Jelly beans were a world wide success and in the US have become associated with Easter candy. National Jelly Bean Day is held on the April 22.

Fruit gums
Fruit gums were introduced in 1893, and originally marketed as Rowntree's Clear Gums - "The nation's favourite sweet. " They were sold in twopenny tubes and sixpenny packets. Fruitgums consist of glucose syrup and fruit juices. They appear in different colours, each with a different flavour: strawberry, orange, lemon, blackcurrant and lime. Rowntree's, were later acquired by Nestlé.

Fruit Pastilles
Joseph Rowntree was the son of a Quaker grocer. He joind his brother Henry Rowntree and together they built a successful international confectionary company. Fruit Pastilles were first made in Fawdon, Tyneside, England in 1881. They are a small round sweet, measuring about 1.5 cm (0.6 in) in diameter, with a jelly-like centre covered with sugar. Fruit pastilles contain fruit juice and come in five flavours: lemon (yellow), lime (green), strawberry (red), blackcurrant (purple) and orange (orange).

Wine gums
Wine gums (or winegums) are popular in the UK and introduced as Maynard's Wine Gums in 1909 by Charles Gordon Maynard. They describe a chewy, firm pastille-type sweet similar to fruit gums without the sugar coating. The gums usually come in five shapes: kidney, crown, diamond, circle and rectangle, and are labeled with six names: port, sherry, champagne, burgundy, gin and claret. Despite the name, they contain no alcohol. The name is thought to have originated either as an attempt to reduce personal alcohol consumption; or a marketing ploy to promote the sweets as being as good as a fine wine. In 2002 worldwide sales of Maynards Wine Gums alone had reached a value of forty million pounds sterling per annum.

Sports Mixture
Another variation on the gums these fruit-flavoured hard gums are in the shape of sports equipment such as sailing boats, tennis raquets, rugby balls, cricket stumps, cricket bats and footballs. The gums come in five different colours - red, orange, black, yellow and green. The product used to contain liquorice flavoured pieces, but this has now replaced by blackcurrant. Originally made by the Lion Confectionery Company which was formed in 1903 in Cleackheaton in West Yorkshire. Gums and Pastilles soon became his signature lines and were regarded throughout the North of England and Scotland Lion gums as "proper" gums. The traditional cooking process and slow stoving ensured they tasted exactly the same way. Lion Confectionary was taken over by Maynards but continued to produce popular lines. In 1990, Maynards merged with the Tottenham liquorice mill Bassetts, and Trebor. In 1998, following the acquisition of the company by Cadbury. The Lion brand has since been adopted by Tangerine Confectionery who manufacture Sports Mixture to the original Lion Confectionary version.

Miget Gems
Midget Gems are small chewy firm sweets similar to wine gums but much harder. They are manufactured from sugar and glucose syrup, corn starch and/or various other starches, animal gelatin, and various colourings and flavouring. Lions Miget Gemms proved hugely popular choice with children.

Jelly Babies
Jelly babies were thought to be invented in 1864 by Herr Steinbeck an Austrian Jelly Craftsman who worked at Fryers of Lancashire. They were originally called "unclaimed babies", but in 1918 Bassett's in Sheffield sold them as "Peace Babies" to mark the end of World War I. Due to wartime shortages during the Second World War production was suspended and Jelly Babies were relaunched in 1953. The jelly babies all had the same shape regarless of colour and contain gelatin coated with starch.

In 1963 The Beatles were pelted with jelly babies after it was reported that George Harrison liked eating them. In the USA where jelly babies were less popular, the fans through much harder jelly beans.

In 1989, Bassett's jelly babies were given individual names and shapes, colour and flavour: Brilliant (red - strawberry), Bubbles (yellow - lemon), Baby Bonny (pink - raspberry), Boofuls (green - lime), Bigheart (black - blackcurrant) and Bumper (orange). In 2007, Bassett's jelly babies changed to include only natural colours and ingredients. Three million Jelly Babies are reportedly eaten each week and are permanently in the sweets Top 20, with sales worth 14 million pounds a year.

Australian singer Alison Hams released "Jelly Baby Song" The lyrics refer to the consumption of jelly babies by Type 1 Diabetics to overcome hypoglycaemic episodes. This was a way to raise awareness for Type 1 Diabetes for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Australia (JDRF) who sell packaged jelly babies as the focus of their annual "Jelly Baby Month" campaign.

Novelty Sweets

In 19th century many confectioners used moulds to shape their sweetmeat mix into familiar shapes like shoes, pipes and sugar mice.

Sugar mice and chocolate figures were a favorite of children especially during the Festive Holidays. Traditionally, sugar mice had string tails, which had to be individually attached before the fondant hardened. In an attempt to make the whole mouse edible some confectioners experimented with liquorice. Unfortunately, not only did the liquorice tend to fall out, it also left an unseemly brown-tinted hole.


The term 'lollipop' was first recorded by English lexicographer Francis Grose in 1796. The term may have derived from "lolly" an obsolete Old English term for ‘tongue” and used the North of England and "pop,” the noise made when removing the sweet from the mouth. The practice of coating fruit in sugar syrup dates to ancient times. Honey and sugar were used as preserving agents.

Most historians agree toffee apples were common fare in England by the date late 19th century. The earliest receipt for toffee apples dates to 1919 but during the Great War hand thrown bomb were called toffee apples would suggest their linage predates this period.

There is some conjecture as to the origin of lollipops as a confection. In the 1850s in North America small pieces of sugar candy were placed on the ends of pencils to encourage young children to write. These were called ‘Pencil pops’ and may represent the earliest example of the modern lollipop.

Some sources cite the serendipidous discovery by the owner of the McAviney Candy Company, New Haven, Connecticut, in 1905 who took the stirring sticks from his candy making endevours home for his children to enjoy. Later in 1908 he began to market "used candy sticks" as licking candy.

Others credit American sweet maker, George P Smith of Bradley-Smith Candy Company, New Haven, Connecticut, with making the first large boiled sweets mounted on sticks (made of rolled paper) in 1908. He proportedly named his soft candy on a stick after his racehorse, Lolly Pop and used the idea of putting candy on a stick to make it easier for children to eat his soft candy. Smith trademarked the lollipop name in 1931.

The first automated lollipop machinery was made by The Racine Confectionery Machine Company in Racine, Wisconsin in 1908. The purpose of the machine was to put candy on the end of a stick and turned out forty “all day suckers” per minute.

She was sitting on the curbstone,
And she wept and sobbed aloud,
While her little friends stood near her
In a sympathetic crowd.
“What’s the matter, dear?” I asked her;
“Are you hurt or are you sick?”
“No; I’ve sucked my all-day sucker,
Till there’s nothing left but stick!”
Well, a penny cured her trouble
With another “sucker” quick;
But why is it that life’s taffy
Nearly always ends in “stick?”

Bessie Chandler

In 1912 Samuel Born invented a machine to insert sticks into candy. The machine was called the Born Sucker Machine. The earliest "recipe" for lollipops [with a stick] dates from 1918/1919. Often advertised as “All day suckers,” these sold well and were often used as free promotions.

Most are eaten at room temperature, but or "ice lollies" are frozen water-based lollipops. The term ‘epsicle ‘was patented in 1923 by Frank Epperson, and described a "frozen ice on a stick." His children re-named it the Popsicle. In 1925 Epperson sold the rights to the Joe Lowe Company of New York which in turn is now owned by Good Humor.

The impact of the Great Depression saw the demand for candies diminish and Bradley Smith Company went out of business. Since they could not enforce their trademark for the "lollipop" any longer the term became a part of the public domain, meaning that anyone could now use the term for their candy on a stick products.

The lollipop industry got a massive commercial boost in the 1934 film, "Bright Eyes" when a new child movie star Shirley Temple, sang a song which has since become familiar to generations of children, and adults. Shirley Temple included a scene in which she performs/sings the song "On The Good Ship Lollipop."

By the 1940s the lollipop was becoming so popular again it began to cause health concern because children played with lollipops in their mouths. Falls could relate in damage to the child’s palate , causing severe injury. The "Saf-T-Pop" was introduced by the Curtis Candy Company. Their lollipop candy had a hoop-like handle that was flexible and safe for children to eat while they were playing. Lollipop promotions were sometimes used by US banks after the Second World War as an incentive to young savers.

Lollipops today describe a type of confectionery consisting mainly of hardened, flavored sucrose with corn syrup mounted on a stick and intended for sucking or licking. They are available in a number of colors and flavors, particularly fruit flavours. National Lollipop Day is July 20.

Lucky Bags

A lucky bag (or Jamboree Bag) was a sealed paper bag containing a selection of sweets and a mystery toy. The sweets varied and often included a lolly and small chews. The surprise gift might be puzzle or game, maybe a miniature pack of playing cards or a plastic bagatelle, sometimes a whistle or keepie uppie basketball game. More often than not you might get a small colouring / activity book and pack of crayons or a miniature plastic toy paratropper along with his parachute. In the 50s and 60s Lucky Bags were popular choices among young children after school. Of all kid’s candies the Lucky Bag had inspired more poetry that another.

Whit will I dae wae it? I'll let ye see!
Why ask me a question so droll?
There's only ae richt wey tae spend a bawbee,
That's on luckybags up at the "Toll."

I'll intae the coonter as sherp as can be,
As if there wis de'ils on my track;
An' doon for a luckybag plank my bawbee,
An' ask for a ha'penny back.

Some weans spend their siller on terrible trash,
On liquorice stick or cheugh jeans;
Wae sic daft carry-ons I ne'er bother my fash,
It's leevin' faur oot o' yer means.

In ae luckbag there's mair value tae me
Than a toffee pock fu' as ye'll pack'
Baith sweeties an' toys for a single bawbee!
An' forbye a hail ha'penny back!
When I am a man wae ma pooches sae fu',
That ilk penny is burnin' a hole,
I'll spend them the same as I'm dae'n e noo,
On luckybags up at the Toll.


Lucky Bag Tattie scones, St Andra's bane, a rod-and-crescent
Pictish stane; a field o whaups, organic neeps,
a poke o Brattisani's chips; a clootie well,
computer bits, an elder o the wee free Kirk;

a golach fi Knoydart, a shalwar-kameez;
Dr Simpson's anaesthetics, zzzzzzz,
a gloup, a clachan, a Broxburn bing,
a giro, a demo, Samye Ling; a ro-ro

in the gloaming, a new-born Kirkcaldy baby-gro;
a Free State, a midden, a chambered cairn:
- yer Scottish lucky-bag, one for each wean;
please form an orderly rabble.

Kathleen Jamie

Marshmallow Originally marshmallows were made from the rood sap of the marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis) plant. The first marshmallows were made by boiling pieces of the marsh mallow root pulp with sugar until it thickened then the mixture was strained and cooled. As far back as 2000BC, Egyptians combined the marsh mallow root with honey. The candy was reserved for gods and royalty. Modern marshmallow (or Guimauve) originated in France sometime during the the 1850s. French candy makers used the mallow root sap as a binding agent for the egg whites, corn syrup, and water. The fluffy mixture was heated and poured into the corn starch in small molds, forming the marshmallows. By 1900, marshmallows were available for mass consumption, and they were sold in tins as penny candy. Mass production of marshmallows became possible with the invention of the starch mogul system of manufacture in the late 19th century. The marjority of marshmallows today are made with egg albumen and gelatin, some are made with all of one and none of the other. In 1955, there were nearly 35 manufacturers of marshmallows in the United States. Alex Doumak, of Doumak, Inc., patented a new manufacturing method called the extrusion process and his invention changed the history of marshmallow production. It only takes 60 minutes to produce a marshmallow and there are only three manufacturers of marshmallows in the United States. The first chocolate-coated marshmallow treat was created in the early 1800s in Denmark.

A favourite way to eat giant marshmallows was to toast them over an open fire.

Tunnock's, was a family baker based in Uddingston, Lanarkshire. The company was formed by Thomas Tunnock in 1890, when he purchased a baker's shop in Lorne Place, Uddingston. The company expanded in the 1950s, and it was at this time that the core products were introduced to the lines. The face of the Tunnock's Boy appears on nearly all Tunnock's products.

The Tunnock's Tea Cake is a small round shortbread biscuit covered with a dome of Italian meringue, a whipped egg white concoction similar to marshmallow. This is then encased in a thin layer of milk or dark chocolate and wrapped in a red and silver foil paper for the more popular milk chocolate variety, with blue, black, and gold wrapping for the dark.

At the Glasgow Commonwealth Game opening ceremony in 2014 Tunnock’s teacakes took centre stage as dancers dressed in a teacake danced around the main performers near the start of the show.

Another popular range was the Snowball which was similar to the Tea Cake, minus the shortbread biscuit base and with the addition of grated coconut to the exterior of a soft chocolate shell. Best eaten sandwiched between two McVitties digestive biscuits.

Wagon Wheels consist of two biscuits with marshmallow sandwich filling, covered in a chocolate flavoured coating. They were launched as "Weston Wagon Wheels” in 1948 at the Olympia Food Fair by Australain Garry Weston . The name capitalized on the popularity of Wild West soaps at the time. In the UK Wagon Wheels are produced and distributed by Burton's Foods who separated from the Weston family connection when they were sold out of Associated British Foods in 2000. The original factory in Slough produced the biscuit with crinkled edges and corn cobbs rather than the updated smoother edges. This caused the overall diameter of the biscuit to shrink slightly, but not as much as fans of the biscuit believe.

The Penny Candy

It was 1851 at Great Exhibition in London; the UK public was introduced to "French-style" candies with rich cream centers. Two decades later in 1875 milk chocolate makers in Switzerland made an American candy bar covered in chocolate. Both caught the attention of Americas and within a very short period there were more than 380 candy factories in the United States. Costs of production were such these factories could produce candy that cost one cent or “penny candy.

Brightly colored and often displayed in shop windows in glass jars, penny candies often came in the shape of familiar consumer products, such as shoes, boats, hats, and purses. By the early 1870s penny candies were ubiquitous, appearing not only in candy shops but also in tobacco stores and five-and-dimes, and at newsstands and movie theatres. Penny candies introduced nineteenth-century children to the world of consumption by teaching them to how to be good consumers. In some cities in the US the penny candy was abused and shopkeepers offered children ridiculous incentives in the form of prizes to spend their penny. Kids just found the money until the practice was eventually exposed as a form of illegal gambling and selling penny candy fell into disrepute.


The Aztec and Mayan peoples consumed chocolate in religious rituals. European explorers introduced chocolate to Europe after the discovery of the New World. High transportation costs and excessive import duties on cocoa meant it was too expensive and exclusive. Chocolate, like tea was a beverage but gradually bakers began to incorporate cooking chocolate into cakes and by 1845 eating had been developed.

Rodolphe Lindt from Berne, Switzerland started conching in 1879. A conche is a surface scraping mixer and agitator that evenly distributes cocoa butter within chocolate, and may act as a 'polisher' of the particles. It also promotes flavor development through frictional heat and release of volatiles and acids, and oxidation. When eaten, this new chocolate melted on the tongue and possessed a very appealing aroma. This was the beginning of the production of chocolate fondant.

The Swiss became famous for their high degree of perfection in the quality and manufacture of chocolate fondant. The process was a secret until the beginning of the 1900s. By the end of the 19th century chocolate was enjoyed by "the masses." Chocolate-coated cream candies of all kinds were extremely popular in the late 19th/early 20th centuries.

Initially, chocolate was packed as unwrapped bars in wooden boxes with paper labels, displayed on the shop counter. Individual paper wrappers developed soon afterwards. Gold printing and metal foils repeated this luxury message which gold leaf had given to sweets in earlier centuries. Designs used the latest images, and graphics publicized the desirability of chocolate. Even more status was attached to special boxes, decorated with pictures, lined with tissue and paper lace. As the package, not the contents, occupied more and more of the foreground, so advertising shifted almost entirely from the taste of confectionery towards style by association.

Opera Drops
Opera drops (Opera Caramels or Opera Bonbons) were conical shaped chocolates with vanilla cream filling. You would by them at intermission at the opera.

Walnut Whip
Walnut Whip is a whirl-shaped cone of milk chocolate with a whipped vanilla fondant filling, topped with a half-walnut. These were launched in Edinburgh in 1910 by Duncan's of Edinburgh. At first there was a walnut placed inside the cone on the thick chocolate base, then later it was marketed with an extra walnut on top. The inside walnut inside was eventually removed to leave one walnut outside. Initially Duncan's business was established in Dundee in 1861 by Walter Duncan who started selling toffee apple. The company moved to High Street, Edinburgh in 1884, then to Beaverhall Road, Edinburgh in 1896. The name was W & M Duncans the M was for His Wife Margaret. Using only the finest chocolate to original receipts and walnuts from India and China, Duncan’s Walnut Whips was soon established as a favourite sweet of quality.

Over the decades both chocolate cone and vanilla fondant filling changed. At first the cone had a more pronounced tightly knit rough surface and dense fondant. The original whips were moulded as a spiral cone of extruded chocolate; as the extrusion was ridged and twisted during moulding, this generated the knitted surface as a result of the process. When the whips switched to being hollow moulded instead, in the late 1970s, the original surface was recreated, although it now had no function other than decoration. Duncan's Edinburgh factory was closed in 1987 and re-opened the same year, as 'Duncans of Scotland'. They are now made by Nestlé Rowntree in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England. Still very popular according to the manufacturers almost one Walnut Whip is eaten every two seconds in the UK. Over the years there have been a number of flavours of Walnut Whip, including coffee and maple flavours, but the original vanilla continues to sell well.

Frys Chocolate Cream

Fry's Chocolate Cream as launched in 1866 by J. S. Fry & Sons and is considered to be was one of the first chocolate bars ever produced in the UK. The Fry Family had been associated with chocolate making since circa 1759. J. S. Fry & Sons produced the first solid dark chocolate Easter eggs in 1879.

Fry's Chocolate Cream consists of a fondant centre enrobed in dark chocolate. Variations eventually included peppermint (Fry's Peppermint Cream), or orange fondant (Fry’s Orange Cream) and Fry's Five Centre (orange, raspberry, lime, strawberry, and pineapple). These were all produced from 1934 to 1992, among others.

In 1919, Cadbury merged with J.S. Fry & Sons Limited so both companies could compete against Rowntree. Using the Fry’s trademark, Cadbury’s produced a solid milk chocolate bar called Five Boys in 1902 (discontinued in 1976). In 1923 Fry's (now Cadbury) chocolate factory moved to Somerdale Garden City, Keynsham, England. Following a 2010 takeover of Cadbury plc by Kraft Foods, the Somerdale factory was closed and its machinery shipped to Warsaw, Poland, where Cadbury production continues.


In 1824 John Cadbury opened a grocer's shop in Bull Street, Birmingham. Goods include cocoa and drinking chocolate. By 1831 he began cocoa products including drinking chocolate. The business expanded and in 1897 Cadbury launched its first milk chocolate for eating. The process involoved adding dried milk powder to cocoa solids cocoa butter and sugar.

Cadbury Dairy Milk was launched in 1905 to compete against the leading brands of Swiss milk chocolate.

In 1915 Milk Tray was launched and consisted of a menu of chocolates housed in a stylish but no-frills box for every day eating.

Cadburys Flake was introduced in 1920; Crunchie in 1929; Cadbury Roses in 1938; Picnic in 1958; and Wispa in 1983.

The Cadbury family was Quakers and one of the driving forces of philanthropy in the late stages of the Victorian era, when society grew more reflective on what had been an age of growing social and economic division. They were of the opinion tea, coffee and cocoa beverages could serve as an alternative to alcohol, seen to be a cause of poverty and deprivation among the working classes. The family company became particularly concerned with the health of its workforce, incorporating park and recreation areas into the Bournville village plans, and encouraging swimming, walking and other sports.

Cream Egg

Chocolate company Fry's launched the Fry's Creme Eggs in 1963 before it was later rebranded by Cadbury when it took over the company in 1971. Cadbury Brothers did sell chocolate eggs filled with cream as far back as 1923. The modern Cadbury Creme Egg has a thick milk chocolate shell, housing a white and yellow fondant filling which mimics the albumen and yolk of a real egg. They are manufactured as two half-egg chocolate shells, each of which is filled with a white fondant, then topped with a smaller amount of yellow fondant. Both halves are then quickly joined together and cooled, the chocolate bonding together in the process. The solid eggs are removed from the moulds and wrapped in foil. Creme eggs are usually sold individually but are also available in boxes of various sizes. The foil wrapping of the eggs was traditionally green, red, yellow and blue in colour in the United Kingdom . Over the years, Cadbury has introduced a number of products related to the original Creme Egg, but non have suroassed the original. Modern Creme Eggs have been the best-selling confectionery item between New Year's Day and Easter in the UK, with annual sales in excess of 200 million.


Rowntree was founded in 1862 at Castlegate, York by Henry Isaac Rowntree. Seven years later and after the company got into financial difficulty Joseph Rowntree, joined his brother in full partnership, and formed H.I. Rowntree & Co.

The company introduced Fruit Pastilles in 1881 with the help of a French confectioner.

The demand for good quality drinking chocolate was high and after a lot of time and effort, Joseph developed Rowntree’s Elect Cocoa in 1887. Marketed as ‘more than a drink, a food’ proved very popular.

In 1893, the company introduced Rowntree's Fruit Gums and four years later Rowntree & Co was established. Their first milk chocolate block was introduced in 1899 but it failed to capture the same sales as rival Cadbury. By the time of the Great War the firm was in trouble as the popularity of Elect Cocoa declined.

Black Magic assorted chocolate box proved a winner after it was launched in 1934 and a year later the company introduced Aero.

The Chocolate Crisp, a wafer-and-chocolate bar later known as the Kit Kat, was also launched in 1935 and Dairy Box chocolates followed in 1937.

Chocolate beans were a colour-varied sugar-coated chocolate sold loose since at least 1882, in 1937; these were packaged in a cardboard tube and branded as Smarties Chocolate Beans. Rowntrees dropped "chocolate beans" due to trading standards requirements and adopted the "Milk Chocolate in a Crisp Sugar Shell". Later, the sweet was rebranded as "Smarties".

They came in eight colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, mauve, pink and brown, although the blue variety was temporarily replaced by a white variety in some countries, while an alternative natural colouring dye of the blue colour was being researched.

Polo, the distinctive mint with a hole in the centre, was developed in 1939, but its introduction was delayed by the onset of war.

Caromac was a caramel flavoured chocolate bar first introduced in 1959. The name is derived from the syllabic abbreviation of Caramel and Mackintosh's. The bar is a pale yellow colour, and is manufactured using sweetened condensed milk, butter, various flavourings, and sugar. It is packaged in a red and yellow wrapper.

After Eights were launched in 1962.

Rowntree merged with John Mackintosh and Co in 1969, to become Rowntree Mackintosh and developed Rolo and Quality Street after the merge.

The Yorkie and Lion chocolate bars were introduced in 1976. Rowntree was taken over by Nestlé in 1988 and traded as "Nestlé Rowntree", before eventually the Rowntree name was dropped from the packaging altogether.


Frank C. Mars started making candy when he was 19. The Mars Candy Factory, Inc. sold candy to 5 and 10 cent stores along the Pacific coast. The absence of refrigeration meant candy has to be made and delivered in the same day.

Mars Candy started to produce Milky Way in 1923 then a shirt while after Snickers. After Frank’s death in 1934 the American and UK Mars companies together to form an international enterprise. M&Ms were launched in the 1940s. The name came from the last names of Forrest Mars and Bruce Murrie, the son of Hershey executive William Murray who agreed to provide chocolate, sugar, technology and some capital. M&M's became popular with US soldiers because of their ability to withstand warm temperatures. These were added to soldiers’ C-Rations. After the war Mars bought out Murrie to become the sole owner of the M&M® brand.

In the 60s Mars Ltd introduced Treets, milk chocolate coated peanuts with an outer shell of dark brown glazed candy in the UK. There were three vaieties Peanut Treets, (sold in a yellow packet), Toffee Treets (sold in a blue packet) and Chocolate Treets (sold in a brown packet). All three were marketed with the slogan "Melt in your mouth, not in your hand" which was first used in 1967. The brand was discontinued by Mars in 1988.

Bounty Bar was introduced in 1951. It was a coconut filling enrobed with milk chocolate (which is sold in a blue wrapper) or dark chocolate (which is sold in a red wrapper) and is sold as two pieces wrapped in one package.

Mars Bar

Mars Bar is a chocolate bar manufactured by Mars, Incorporated and introduced in 1932. Forrest Mars began manufacturing a chocolate bar consisting of nougat and caramel covered in milk chocolate, modelled after his father's Milky Way bar. During the war years, the bars were allocated to troops in the UK and to prisoners of war in Germany. Today the basic recipe is unaltered but the size of the bar and the proportions of the main components have changed over the years.

Deep fried Mars

This is a Mars bar coated with batter and deep-fried in oil or beef fat. First reports of battered Mars bars being sold in Stonehaven, Scotland date back to 1995. Deep-fried Mars bars are available from some fish-and-chip shops in the UK (mainly in Scotland).

Bangs of Expectation (aka Christmas Cracker )

In 1847 London stationer and confectionery, Tom Smith took the French custom of making up packets of bonbons (sugar covered almonds).

French bonbonniers were all the rage in Paris, and made huge profits with prettily boxed and wrapped sweets, this was just the new idea the English sweet industry needed. He marketed the bon-bons in time for Christmas, and they were an instant success.

His bonbons consisted of several sweets wrapped together in tissue paper with a twist at each end. In 1850 the sugar almonds were replaced with toys and jewellery. He also sold similar sweets with a “love motto” inside. Smith later included a trinket and a bang. The confection was marketed as 'Christmas Bonbonnes, complete with a surprise.' By 1860 his Bangs of Expectation included gifts such as jewellery and miniature dolls. Sometimes called ‘Cosaques’ they evolved into the modern Christmas Cracker.

In 1644 the English Puritans forbid any merriment in religious services by Act of Parliament on the grounds this was a heathen practice. According to the Act, Christmas was to be kept as a fast. Cavalier King Charles II revived the feast but the Scots dogmatically adhered to the Puritan view there was no reference to celebration of Christmas in the New Testament and hence stubbornly refused to embrace Christmas celebration for several centuries. In the 19th century the Scottish tea planters in the far east ate plum puddings and turkey dinners with Christmas Bonbonnes many years before their relatives at home gave recognition to Christmas Day.

After the Second World War and at the end of rationing Chrsitams selection boxes became very popular.

War Rationing

War rationing began in 1939 and the making of chocolate and cocoa etc. came under Government control. Kids were given a specific weekly sugar allowance and the purchase od sweets was restricted.

Medicated (cough) lozanges and laxative chocolate were ration free and sold by the ton. Behind closed doors the sweety black market in Scotland thrived.

Glickman's Pure Confectionery, Glasgow opened in 1903. The shop sat on the edge of Glasgow's Calton district and is the oldest sweetie shop in the heart of Glasgow. During the Second World War the company made ‘Medicinal sweets’ like cough lozenges and these were off rationing. Glickman's Famous Cough Tablet was a hard fudge with liquorice and aniseed and because it was classified as medicinal Isaac Glickman could get non-rationed sugar and hence his business boomed throughout the War years.

Alcohol flavoured sweets

Rum balls (bourbon balls, brandy balls, apricot balls)were soft mix confectionary which became popular during the Second World War and were consumed during holidays like Christmas. Most of these sweets were home made.

Macaroon Bar

John Justice Lees was a grocer’s son from Coatbridge and after experimenting with making chocolate fondant; he covered his new creation in coconut and came up with Lees Macaroon bars in 1931. Originally these were made with cold leftovers of mashed potatoes and sugar loaf. When the macaroon bar became commercial the recipe no longer used mashed potato because of shelf life limitations. The modern macaroon is made from a combination of sugar, glucose, water and egg white. Over the years Lees range of confectionery bars gradually expanded to include tablet, mint, fudge, chocolate coated fudge, and snowballs.

"Lees, Lees, more if you please..."

Unlike Lees macaroon traditonal macaroon cakes describe a small round biscuit typically made from ground almonds or coconut with sugar and egg white. Macaroons are often baked. The name of the cake comes from the Italian maccarone or maccherone meaning "paste", and referring to the original almond paste ingredient. This word itself derives from ammaccare, meaning "to bruise".

Chewing gum

Wild West settlers in the 1800s took the chewing practice from Native Americans. Commercial chewing gum became available between 1840 and 1870. John B. Curtis is regarded as the innovator for commercial chewing gum. He experimented with spruce tree resin and made a sticky, rubbery material, which could be chewed. This gum was called the State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum and was sold in 1848. Two years later Curtis added flavor to the gum and paraffin for soft and rubbery feel. These flavored paraffin gums becoming more popular than spruce gums.

In 1869, Amos Tyler received the first patent in the United States for chewing gum but never sold the product commercially. An Ohio dentist, William Finley Semple was honored for this work using the first patent to manufacture chewing gum from December 1869. The main ingredients in Semple’s gum formula were charcoal and chalk.In 1871, after he obtained the patent (number 111,798) for a process to manufacture gum, Thomas Adams began marketing chewing gum from chicle called Adams New York Chewing Gum which was molded into small gumballs that were wrapped in different colored tissue papers.

William White combined sugar and corn syrup with chicle and improved the taste by adding peppermint extract. His peppermint-flavored gum was called Yucatan gum and sold in 1880. The Fleer brothers are credited by many as the inventors of the cube shaped candies made with chicle from sapodilla tree in 1880. Adams introduced licorice flavoured Black Jack in 1884 and the first Tutti-Frutti vending machine was installed in a New York subway station in 1888.

William Wrigley Jr founded Wrigley Chewing Gum in 1891 and ran a successful promotion by offering two packages of chewing gum with each can of baking powder sold. The first two brands of Wriggleys chewing gum were In 1871, after he obtained the patent (number 111,798) for a process to manufacture gum, Thomas Adams began marketing chewing gum from chicle called Adams New York Chewing Gum which was molded into small gumballs that were wrapped in different colored tissue papers. Juicy Fruit gum was launched in 1893, and Wrigley's Spearmint became available the following year.

Franklin V. Canning invented Dentyne gum in 1889 but by this time the Wrigley brands were known worldwide.

Frank Fleer invented bubble gum called Blibber-Blubber gum in 1906 but because the gum was too sticky it did not sell well.

The Imperial Packing Co. started to produce Beech-Nut ham in 1891. Later they became the Beech-Nut Packing Company (1899) and expanded the product range to include candies and chewing gum. During the Great Depression, when Beech-Nut's higher priced products were passed over in the grocery stores, Beech-Nut chewing gum kept the company afloat, providing $11 million of the company's $18 million in sales in 1935. In 1956, Beech-Nut re-entered the hard candy market through a merger with Life Savers Corp.

Wrigley’s Doublemint started to be made in the UK in 1927.

The new pellet gum PK caught on and the name is thought by many to be derived Philip Knight (PK) Wrigley who was the CEO from 1925 to 1961.

Double Bubble bubblegum became available in the US in 1928. In 1933, Goudey Gum Company of Boston issued baseball cards with players biographies on the backs and was the first to put baseball cards in bubble gum. The 1933 Goudey set remains one of the most popular and affordable vintage sets to this day. Bowman Gum of Philadelphia issued its first baseball cards in 1948.

Bazooka Joe bubble gum was first marketed shortly after World War II in the U.S. by the Topps Company of Brooklyn, New York. In 1953, Topps included a small comic strips with the gum, featuring the character "Bazooka Joe". There were 50 different "Bazooka Joe" comic-strip wrappers to collect.

Topps further increased the consumption of bubblegum in 1951 by including cards featuring TV and film cowboys like Hopalong Cassidy; Frank Buck on big game hunts in Africa; and All-American football cards. Topps also produced its first baseball trading card set which resembled playing cards. Previously bubblegum had been sold with a free single cigarette. Modern Association football trading cards were sold with bubble gum in the United Kingdom from 1958 to 1975 by A&BC, and later by Topps, UK from 1975 to 1981.

The first sugar free bubblegum became available in the 1960s, and chicle was eventually replaced by cheaper to produce butadiene-based synthetic rubber .

In 1964 Topps introduced Beatles Black and White 1st Series of trading card sets through A&BC Chewing Gum Ltd in the UK. Beatlemania at its height and the demand for anything with the Fab Four was hot. The cards originally came in a sealed pack, wrapped inside the outer wrapper of a single sheet of pink bubble gum that was the same size and shape of the cards. Each piece of gum was wrapped in grease proof paper. Cards were sold in packs or separately.

Douglas Coakley of A & BC Chewing Gum Ltd had approached Brian Epstein to obtain the rights to produce cards featuring photographs and autographs of the Beatles. The photographs were provided to A&BC Chewing Gum Ltd courtesy of Nems Enterprises Ltd, and appear to be taken in 1962 and 1963. The 60-card set uses a mix of photo styles. They range from musical shots to portraits to candid pictures of the band letting off steam. Some show the entire band while others only have individual members. Card fronts have a small white border and a blue facsimile signature. The card back is plain gray with a blue border box in the lower portion of the card that reads, "#xx in a series of 60 photos". Topps produced two additional black and white Beatles releases in 1964. The Beatles Colour Card Series was issued in 1964. The cards were a commercial success in Britain and were distributed in Australia. They are regarded as collectable today. A&BC Chewing Gum Ltd was wound up in 1974.

The Dental Report

Scottish children have the worst teeth in Britain with one in three of 12-year-olds now overweight. Scottish children continue to consume more fizzy drinks than anyone else in Europe and they have the worst teeth in Britain. Almost half of all Scottish five year olds suffer from tooth decay and according to the World Health Organisation a 12-year-old Glaswegian has teeth similar to those of a 12-year-old in Kazakhastan or Cambodia. Scottish teeth were so bad in the 40s man people decided they would be better off without them and took advantage of the new National Health Dental Services. This became common place with many young adults opting to for dentures prior to marriage. In 1972, 44% of Scots over 16 had no teeth at all according to recent health statistics one in six Scots women and one in seven men have lost all their teeth by their mid-50s. Sugar intake in deprived areas has increased four fold since 1939 and on average children consume '60 teaspoons', or 425g of sugar, every day. The intake is even higher when hidden sugars are added. Sweets make up just 90g, and drinks 125g. Experts believe sweets are not the only culprit with tooth decay with starchy junk foods like crisps have been identified as at least as bad and possibly even worse. Unsweetened as well as sugary breakfast cereal and bread help trigger acid attacks on the teeth. There are more dentists in Glasgow than anywhere else in Scotland with seven and a half per 10,000 people. (The UK average is 5.2.)

Rare wee Sweetie Shops
Dee Valley Confectioners, Ballater
Threepwood Fayre Beith
The Old Fudge Shop Callander
Gordon and Durward confections,Crief
The Candy Courtyard Drumnadrochit
Ross of Edinburgh
The Sweetie Shop Girvan
Glickmans Glasgow
The Star Rock Shop Kirriemuir
Burns Sweet Shop , St Andrews

Tim Richardson 2004 Sweets: The History Of Temptation Bantam; New Ed edition


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  4. Any idea who made the ABC sweets? I remember they were in a small red box

  5. Sweeties, did the say? Sweeties, is it? Ah’ll gie he sweeties! For it wis sweeties that caused me to have 13 fillings at the age of 11 and almost killed me when I swallied a gobstopper at school. Sweeties, is it? Ah couldnae get enough of’ ah still cannae, even with ma new geggies in!

  6. Think I have eaten most of them at one time or another and still would if I could get my hands on them.