The candy capitals of the UK holiday cottages

The candy capitals of the UK

Julie Smith 18 November 2020

At Gorgeous Cottages we love any excuse to tuck into a bag (or box) of sweets and what better time to stock up on classics like Smarties, Fruit Pastilles and Quality Streets than in the run up to Christmas? There's a delicious assortment of sweets to enjoy during the festive season and it turns out that lots of these colourful candies were invented right here in Yorkshire.

The very first British sweet, the Pontefract Cake, was invented in Yorkshire during the 17th century and over the years, Yorkshire has continued to create a rainbow-coloured assortment of sweeties including Fruit Pastilles, Smarties, Liquorice Allsorts and Rowntree Randoms.  

But is Yorkshire the candy capital of the UK or can another region lay claim to the sweet-toothed crown? We have investigated which parts of the country have been behind the creation of our favourite sweets and which county can rightfully call itself the candy capital of the UK. 

The results are in:

Candy Capital

1st place – Yorkshire. God’s own country has claimed top spot with sweetie inventions that include Smarties, Fruit Pastilles, Liquorice Allsorts, Polo mints, Jelly Tots, Quality Street, Tooty Fruities and Rowntree Randoms.

2nd place – London. The UK’s capital city is our runner up, inventing Barrett’s Fruit Salads, Dib Dabs, Black Jacks, Flumps, and Maynards Wine Gums.

3rd place – Derbyshire. Swizzels is a classic British sweet brand founded in Derbyshire that created Parma Violets, Double Dips, Refreshers and Drumstick Lollies.

4th place – Lancashire. As well as having the joint largest number of sweet shops in the UK, Lancashire is the county that invented Jelly Babies, Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls and Fisherman’s Friends. Stockley’s Sweet Shop in Lancashire also holds the record for the world’s largest pear drop so they get an honourable mention for this too.

5th place - Berkshire. The home of Mars UK has been behind the invention of Opal Fruits (Starburst), Celebrations and Skittles.

Other honourable mentions go to Merseyside for Chewits and Leicestershire for Fox’s Glacier Mints

The winner is Yorkshire!

Yorkshire sweets

It’s official - Yorkshire is responsible for more candy creations than anywhere else in the UK. Here are the sweets that have been created in Yorkshire throughout the centuries, from the Pontefract Cake of the 17th century to the much more recent Rowntree Randoms:

  • Pontefract Cake, Unknown - 1600s
  • Seaside Rock, Ben Bullock - 1868
  • Fruit Pastilles, Rowntree - 1881
  • Mackintosh’s Toffee - 1890
  • Fruit Gums, Rowntree - 1893
  • Liquorice Allsorts, Bassetts - 1899
  • Yorkshire Mixture, Dobsons - 1920
  • Quality Street - 1936
  • Smarties, Rowntree - 1937
  • Rolos, Mackintosh - 1938
  • Polos, Rowntree - 1947
  • Munchies, Mackintosh -1957
  • Tooty Frooties, Rowntree - 1963
  • Jelly Tots, Rowntree – 1965
  • Rowntree Randoms – 2009

Sweet shops

Sweet shops

Not only is Yorkshire responsible for a bumper collection of our favourite sweets but it is also home to The Oldest Sweetshop in the World. The traditional sweet shop in Pateley Bridge has been given the title by the Guinness Book of World Records and is filled with row upon row of old-fashioned glass jars containing classic pick ‘n’ mix sweets.  

To solidify Yorkshire’s position further as the Candy Capital of the UK, we also investigated how many sweet shops there are in each county and Yorkshire, according to data on Yell, ties for the top spot for this too.

Sweet jars

Yorkshire, Lancashire, Hertfordshire and Greater London all have 250 sweet shops listed on Yell, with Herefordshire coming in next with 214 confectionery shops. The full top ten are:

  • Yorkshire - 250
  • Lancashire - 250
  • Greater London - 250
  • Herefordshire - 250
  • West Midlands - 214
  • Greater Manchester - 184
  • Kent - 129
  • Hampshire - 128
  • Devon - 115
  • Essex - 106

Sweet factories

Sweet factoryThe Haribo factory in Castleford by Duncan Cuthbertson

Yorkshire is also a hub for the UK’s sweet factories with large sites in Sheffield, York, Castleford and Pontefract now responsible for Maynards, Bassets, Trebor, Barretts, and Haribo ranges of sweets. The factories produce everything from Jelly Babies and Flumps to Haribo Starmix, with Pontefract Cakes still made at the Haribo’s Yorkshire factory.      

  • Joseph Dobsons is a family-owned confectioner which has made traditional hard-boiled sweets since 1850 and came up with the Yorkshire Mixture accidentally in 1920 when a tray of different sweets were dropped and jumbled together.  
  • Maxons is another traditional sweet factory which produces a range of classic candies that you’ll find gracing the jars of an old-fashioned sweet shop. The Sheffield-based manufacturer has been around since 1885 and signature sweets Mint Rocks and Cherry Balsams are still produced today.  

The Candy Capital of the UK

Sweet shop

With a rich history of confectionery brands such as Rowntree, Bassetts and Mackintosh, along with the country's oldest sweet shop and large factories producing everything from Haribo to Maynards sweets, there's no doubt that Yorkshire is the candy capital of the UK. What's more, Nestle's Product Technology Centre in York is a centre of excellence that specifically tests out new confectionery so this could well be where the UK's next big candy creation will come from...

Download the UK Candy Capitals graphic here:

Candy capital infographic



Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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