In the news: York’s confectionery centenary
In 1962 a proudly independent York-based confectioner responsible for some of today’s bestknown brands was busy celebrating its centenary. Joseph Rowntree went into business in 1862, retaining strong philanthropic connections with the Quaker movement. Fruit pastilles arrived in 1881 and chocolate in 1899 and the fifirm quickly became renowned for how well it treated its employees, providing everything from allotments to a ballroom.
Rowntree was struggling by early 1930 but went on to prosper following the launch of such massive hits as Kit-Kat, Smarties, Aero and Polo mints. In 1962 was the true innovation of After Eights, those individually-wrapped pieces of plain chocolate mint fondant squares without which no-one has ever been able to leave an Indian restaurant.
Rowntree merged with Mackintosh (Toffo, Quality Street) in 1969 and was the world’s fourth largest confectionery manufacturer before Nestlé got its hands on the goodies after a hostile takeover bid in 1988. I’ve never thought the chocolate tastes as good as it once did since then.