A Sweet History

The County of Yorkshire is famous for lots of things, but its claim to be the centre of sweet making is generally overlooked.

It is a country with a rich agricultural tradition, and in monastic times, locally grown mint and liquorice were distilled for elixers and cordials for apothecaries, so were easily adapted to commercial use, especially when mass production developed. The north of England was also home to many non Conformists, in particular, Quakers, in York ,who encouraged the drinking of chocolate as an alternative to the evil alcohol, and set up factories to produce it.

Sweet production reached its peak in the 20th century. In York, Quaker companies such as Terry’s and Rowntrees employed thousands of local people. At Pontefract, 13 factories were once involved  in the liquorice industry. Nearby at Castleford, Trebor mints were made, and John Mackintosh built his toffee factory which dominated the town.

Despite the many takeovers in recent years, the German company Haribo is opening a new plant at Castleford, by the firm opened in Germany by Hans Reigel in 1920.

I can hear the sound of dentists’ tills ringing merrily.

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