• Nov 16, 2015|
  • Stanley Dawson

    From humble beginnings,this modern day confectionery giant has become a household institution responsible for classic confectionery treats such as Lovehearts, Rainbow Drops, Drumstick, New Refreshers Chews and Double Lollies.

    Swizzels Matlow is now the largest independent family-owned confectionery company in Britain, producing 250 lines of sweets, employing 600 people and boasting a turnover of more than £40 million a year.

    Nowadays, daily production tops more than 14 tons of chew sweets, 40,000 bags of Rainbow Drops and nearly 300,000 Double Dip lollies.

  • 1920s

    1928 - According to one version of family folklore, it started in the early 1920s on a market stall in Hackney, London, with Maurice and Alfred Matlow selling jellied sweets. Alfred and Maurice Matlow launched Matlow Bros. Ltd making jelly sweets in a small factory in London.

  • 1930s

    1933 - The Matlow brothers formed an alliance with another sweet factory owner David Dee to share factory space in East London. Swizzels Ltd. was formed and Swizzels specialised in manufacturing fizzy sweets in compressed tablet form.

    Rainbow Drops were launched in the 1930s and were originally sold loose in boxes to be scooped into 3 cornered paper bags which sold for 1d. Later a bagging machine was bought which made 3d bags of Rainbow Drops.

    The decade marked the first appearance of Fizzers. Fizzers were the original compressed fizzy sweet. They were packed by hand until the 2nd world war. As orders grew, a roll wrapper was purchased.

    The seminal Bettabar was also launched in the 1930s. Puffed rice bound by caramel syrup. Initially made by hand and then shaped by machine. One lady called Ruth was the expert at shaping the product.

  • 1940s

    1940 - London was bombarded during the Second World War Blitz bombings. Both companies decided to relocate to new premises. They moved into a former textile mill where wicks for miners' lamps were once made in New Mills.

    The relocation was originally intended as a temporary measure but they are still there today. In 1946 Swizzels Matlow were able to resume their export business.

    During the war, the factory had been used to make water-purifying tablets for the Ministry of Defence but still produced confectionery though consumption was heavily restricted due to food rationing.

    The iconic, perfumed, floral tasting Parma Violets launched during the 40s and are still popular today.

  • 1950s

    The 1950s saw the birth of the iconic Love Hearts (1954). Initially, they were a gift in a cracker and read "I LOVE YOU". Many other messages were introduced although some such as HEY DADDIO, GOOD BOY and HELLO MUM did not survive into the 1960s.

    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'. The family are mainly responsible for coming up with the slogans. Since Love Hearts were created in 1954, with an initial 30 messages, outdated messages have been edited out – such as the 1950s slogan 'Hey Daddio', and the 60s phrase 'Far Out, Man'. Modern slogans have been brought in such as 'Email Me', which was added in 1998.

    Some messages have been dropped after their meanings changed, such as 'Go Gay', which a lady from Philadelphia complained about in the 1970s; others were removed when someone realised that the meaning didn't really make sense, such as 'Drop Dead Gorgeous' which, for space reasons, was truncated to 'Drop Dead'.

    At one point, the company had a complaint from a man who tried to placate his wife after a row by giving her a tube of Love Hearts. Unfortunately, the first message she came across was 'Grow Up'. She told her husband to leave. 'Grow Up' is still in production.

    Double lollies also launched in the 1950s - the original 2 flavoured sherbet lolly.

    1955 - Mr Trevor Matlow, Joint Managing Director, joined the company.

    1955 - New Refreshers was launched. The original packaging incorporated cartoons of children believed to be the Matlow family.

    1957 - The ever-popular Drumstick lolly was launched, the only chewy lolly available at the time – another pioneering confectionery great.

    In the late 1950's Love Hearts messages became 3 dimensional.

    During this time, Swizzels Matlow were making 5 tons of chews a week compared to over 100 tons a week nowadays.

    Navy Mints were also launched.

  • 1960s

    The Love Hearts message COOL was discontinued.

    In 1969, the factory was extended to meet ever-increasing consumer demand.

    Golf Hints were launched - a similar concept to Love Hearts but with golfing tips.

  • 1970s

    1970 - Hippy Bits were launched. They were very similar to Love Hearts but with Flower Power style messages.

    1971 - the launch of Lucky Strike mints. They were printed with the names of football teams and were promoted as a way of doing the pools.

    1975 - the company becomesSwizzelsMatlow Ltd.

    1976 - the seminal swizzelstick and fizzy dip treat, Double Dip is launched.

    1977 - Lipsticks and Whistles were launched.

    Due to the popularity of the no-nonsense, San Francisco detective Kojak and his trademark lolly sucking, there was a huge rise in the export of Double Lollies.

  • 1980s

    1986 - Soccer Shields were launched. They were an update of the Lucky Strike Mints from the 1970s. The football club badge stickers on the inner wraps were licensed by the FA.

    1986 - Snap & Crackle launched.

    1987 - Stinger Chew bar launched.

    1988 - Fun Gum range launched.

    In the 1980s, some changes were made to the Love Hearts messages with the removal of WOW, FAB and GROOVY.

  • 1990s

    1991 - The late Lady Diana, Princess of Wales, visited the Swizzels Matlow factory and was presented with specially commissioned Love Hearts.

    1995 - Jibes were launched - These were similar to Love Hearts but with sarcastic phrases.

  • 2000s

    2000 - Love Hearts was included in the Millennium Dome as an icon of the 20th century.

    2003 - A special Love Heart to celebrate HRH Prince William's 21st birthday was created: 'HAPPY 21 WILLS'.

    2003 - 6 year old Sophie Galvin won a competition to design a new Swizzels Matlow sweet. Her foot shaped chew with fruity toes was inspired by watching her baby sister suck her toes. Unfortunately the foot shaped chew was never launched.

    2003 - Manchester designer, Shaya, created a wedding dress made with 1000's of "MARRY ME" Love Hearts. The estimated value was £125,000.

    2008 - SwizzelsMatlow celebrated its 80th birthday.

    2008 - Artificial colours were removed from all 250 product lines in response to changing consumer demands.

    2009 - Harry Willsher, aged 12, beat almost 4,000 others to become an official sweet taster for Swizzels Matlow.

    Growth of Trick or Treating in UK led to Swizzels Matlow launching an extensive Halloween range.

  • 2010s

    Swizzels Matlow employs over 550 employees, most of whom live within a radius of 10 miles, making it one of the largest employers in North Derbyshire.

    24 hour production is in place to meet demand.

    2010 - Monkey Bar chew bar launched.

    2011 - Mini Bag range launched including mini versions of Love Hearts, Double lollies as well as various new products.

    2011 - Love Hearts gift box launched to commemorate the wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The Love Heart wrappers read "Congratulations William and Catherine 29th April 2011".

    2011 - First licensed range launched under the Scooby Doo brand.

    2011 - Artist Mark Kennedy was commissioned to make a mosaic out of Love Hearts to celebrate the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.