A big day out in Chesterfield

24th June 1958 was a special day for Davina Malcolm. It was the day her school paid a visit to the Trebor factory in Chesterfield. As she wrote in her diary, “We (the girls) went to Trebor Sweet Factory.  It was lovely there.  Were given free samples as we went round.  Saw chocolate being mixed – gorgeous smell. Then got whole tin of sweets each.”

Davina’s kindly sent us the diary entry, as you can read below. And it contains a bit more information. ‘After breakfast – coach to Chesterfield – saw twisted-spire. Went to Town-Hall – taken in the Council Chambers. Welcomed by the Mayor of Chesterfield. Town Clerk came to show us the factories we were going to. Boys went to Bryan and Donkin Steel Works. We (the girls) went to Trebor Street Factory…’

Trebor visit 01- diary_resize ow resNo doubt some of the boys were excited to see steel being made. But it’s hard to imagine many of them preferred that to the prospect of going round a sweet factory.

Davina also kept some of the ‘rappers’ as you can see here – some Choco Japs and Strawberry Flavoured Chews.

Has anyone else got any childhood memories of going round the sweet factories? And did any of you stick some wrappers into your scrap book? Do let us know.

Trebor visit 02 - wrappers_resize low res

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Harry, Harry, Harry

It’s lovely how things sometimes work out. Back in November, Nicola Purcell from Australia got in touch to ask if we knew anything about her grandfather Harry Haseltine, who worked for Trebor between 1926 and 1966. I searched the records but couldn’t find anything.

PplSalesConference1954AG small

Then when she got the book, she spotted Harry in this picture on pp50/51 at a 1954 sales conference in Clacton. He’s standing on the far left of the second row – a ‘tall solid man’ as she describes him. Great! But there’s more. For on page 85, in the 1958 picture of children enjoying a Christmas party at Forest Gate, she found her sister Linda. Aged seven, she’s on the right hand table, second from the front on the left, looking around the boy at the front.

SocKidsXmas Party 118copyG smallWhat a lovely pair of co-incidences. Nicola also said of Harry: ‘I have fond memories of him arriving for a visit to our home and all the children in the street suddenly appearing from nowhere to get a sweet from the boot of his car. My mother spoke of Harry riding a bicycle during the war and allowing her to have one sweet from his case and the agony as to which one to choose! My older sister remembers going on one of his rounds with him and thinks it was South London, maybe Stratford.  He lived in Wards Road West, Ilford.’

Does anyone else remember Harry? Do get in touch.

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Yours for as little as £12.08…

We’ve dropped the price on The Trebor Story from £18 to £12.99 – and it’s currently down further to only £12.08 on Amazon. There’s still time to buy for Christmas…



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Fumunchew Vending Machine

Here’s an unusual request. Someone is desperate to get hold of a Trebor Fumunchew-branded vending machine. It would have been made in the mid 1970s, was black and white with an image of Fumunchew on the front. Even a picture would do!

The request came via Sarah Foden, who manages the Trebor Archive in Bournville. If you have any ideas, just leave a message here or send her an email at sarah.foden@mdlz.com

Here’s a reminder of the Fumunchew character (and the lazy racial stereotyping of the 1970s). This ad appeared in Battle magazine in April 1975.

PackFumunchewsTreborBattle19Apr75A low res

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A Trio of old Trebor TV Ads

Do take a moment to enjoy these three TV ads from Trebor in the 1970s and 1980s – a time when the firm used to keep British animators busy.

First up, we’ve got the galloping Granny who pops a Refresher – It’s the Fizz that gives you Whizz.


Next is the famous Trebor Softmints ad. It sounds like a song from The Cure and its remarkable visuals still give some people the creeps.


Finally something rare. An ad for Trebor Dandies. Rare because, despite the £850,000 heavyweight TV spend – see trade press ad below – the product didn’t make a huge impression. Or did it? Does anyone remember Dandies?



Perhaps what’s most distinctive about old ads is the voiceover at the end; back then they always seemed to use the same velvet-voiced actors, slightly posh and somewhat smarmy. Nowadays advertisers are careful to avoid elitism or insincerity, unless they’re selling something like Pimms or PPI insurance. Today you usually hear accents that are natural or regional (which is ironic given the nation’s strange love of toff politicians like Cameron, Johnson and Farage).

What old Trebor ads would you like to see again?

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Moffat memories

George Cozens has been in touch to let us know about his years with Moffat. “It’s taken me a long time to finish reading this wonderful book, which has flooded my brain with memories. I spent about 12 years with the Moffat division, leaving at the end of 1983 to join my brother-in-law in a small home-made-sweet-style shop & factory in Margate, making mainly chocolate sweets.

One of my best memories is the night JB Collins was given the Red Book – This is Your Life – treatment for his retirement. It was hosted by Jack Thompson. I kept the guests out of sight and made sure the right person went into the room at the right time. Here’s a picture of the evening.

JBs retirement B

While I recognise most of the faces, I only remember a few names. JB’s in the centre, between his wife and Jack Thompson. On the far left is Evette, a secretary who I believe emigrated to Australia. I’m standing behind & between JB and Jack. Behind me slightly to my right is Mr John Marks.

I can relate a story about JB, as he was referred to by everyone. I spent some time at Hoddesdon Depot working for Jack Thompson who was then Southern Regional Manager. The office there had spare desks for visiting managers to use. One day there was a visiting manager at his desk when JB walked in asked me to go with him and help. He also asked the manager to come along. I knew what was about to happen, but the manager got a bit of a shock when we arrived at the loading dock – and JB asked him to help unload this lorry. It was quite normal for JB to take his coat off, get a pallet truck and unload stock.”

Thanks for the memories George. While we’re talking of Moffat, here’s that great pic of the Manchester Depot staff having a knees-up in 1983.

DistWarehouseKneesUp2w low res

And here from the Trebor Magazine Summer of 1972 is the launch of Moffat Maid, including a range of ladies’ tights.


Elsewhere in this blog you can read about the 1973 Moffat Sales Beano http://thetreborstory.com/blog/?p=440 and some memories from Steve Martin and Chris North. http://thetreborstory.com/blog/?p=437

Please keep your memories coming folks – and do share this with anyone you know who might be interested. Thanks.

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Clarnico re-emerging at Sweetwater

Yesterday I took a walk in the October sunshine through the old Clarnico site at Hackney Wick. The area’s recently been opened up as the Olympic Park gets developed – and it’s a great place to visit. Just take the train to Stratford or Hackney Wick and walk about.

Local map small

On this local map you can see Clarnico Quay beside ‘You are here’ and, to the right, a new area called Sweetwater which is yet to be developed, taking its name from all the confectionery made here in the past. The 19th century Clarnico factory complex comprised much of what is within the circle drawn here.

Clarnico Quay

Here is the original building still standing beside Clarnico Quay with the Copper Box Arena behind it.

White Building

The White Building and Yard Theatre are in old Clarnico premises on the other side of the canal, north of the Carpenter Road bridge.

Sweet Water

Sweetwater awaits development beside the Olympic Stadium.

Clarnico 1921 from above Reduced

Here’s the same area in 1921, with the main canal running top to bottom (instead of side to side as on the map above). You can see the Carpenter Road bridge in the middle, with Clarnico Quay beside it to the right and the White Building on the other side. All the wasteland to the right is now the Olympic Park. Hackney Wick to the left is now bustling with artists, cafes and new housing developments. In the foreground is the wonderfully named ‘Fish Island’, home to Forman’s who have smoked salmon there for over a century.

If you fancy an interesting walk in East London, start with this area in Hackney Wick, then follow the canal and River Lee south to Three Mills – lovely old buildings – then head southwest along Limehouse Cut to Limehouse Basin and the Thames. East London is bursting with new life at the moment. It’s fascinating to see this emerge alongside the city’s industrial past.

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Did you make Regal Crown Sours or Bitter-Lemons at Maidstone?

Do you remember making Regal Crown Sours or Bitter-Lemons at Maidstone? If so, then your help is requested. An American firm called Iconic Candy has brought back Regal Crown Sours in the US.

As their Kenny Wiesen writes: We have returned to the market a candy that was made in the 1960s known as Regal Crown Sours. It was a hard candy in roll pack form with individually wrapped pieces. The candy came in many flavors including sour cherry and sour lemon. It was made for export to the U.S. and was such a big seller that Trebor won the Queen’s award for its export.

We know that Regal Crown Sours were made at the Maidstone plant and we are hoping to connect with anyone that has any knowledge of the product or flavours used at the plant for the hard candies. Please contact me at: info@iconiccandy.com

PackRegalCrownsaless moire

If you know anything about producing the sweets, please contact Kenny. And do check out his website www.iconiccandy.com to read about old American sweets. Though Iconic Candy will be getting the new sweets made in the UK, they don’t plan to sell them over here.

Last year we posted some pictures and information about Trebor’s success in America in the 1960s  http://thetreborstory.com/blog/?p=495


Are you old enough to remember this ad? Earlier in the 1960s, Trebor launched the sweets in the UK as Bitter-Orange and Bitter-Lemon. Here are two young models, Maureen and Rosemary – known as the Trebor Twins – sent to promote the sweets around South Wales and the West Country. TV ads told customers to keep a packet handy at home in case the Twins came to call; then if they answered a question correctly, they would win a prize – maybe a giant teddy bear or even an electric clock.


Bitter-Orange flopped, but Bitter-Lemon was a great success – as were Sour Lemons to succeed in the US later on.

Posted in International, Maidstone, Main, Memories, Products | 5 Comments

Do you know where ‘Minty Bit Stronger’ came from?

Matt Jenner’s been in touch with a question: I was wondering if you could shed some light on the original Trebor slogan for me (Trebor Mints are a Minty Bit Stronger). We’ve had a family story going for years that this came from a competition to win some Trebor sweets years ago. Is this true? I would very grateful if you could shed more light onto this for me.

Sorry to say, Matt, I don’t have a definitive answer for you.  I know the line appeared in this 1960s TV ad:

And as we all learnt at school, the unofficial second line of the slogan is Stick them up your bum and they last a bit longer.

But I’ve not found anything in the Trebor Archive about a competition to come up with the line. Is there anyone out there who can shed light on this? Thanks.

Posted in Main, Memories, Products | 1 Comment

Trebor’s Opportunity of a Lifetime

John Bell has sent us a wonderful account of how Trebor led his family from Essex to Canada in 1950.

Trebor Crest 1950

I was born in Essex, England in 1946. A year earlier, my father had returned from the war not sure of what he was going to do with his life. He toiled at a number of blue collar jobs, including house painting, but Richard ‘Dick’ Bell remained out-of-sorts until 1949, when my uncle presented “an opportunity of a lifetime.” Those were my Uncle Harold’s words.

Harold Dolphin was a handsome, charming man, with lofty dreams and ambitions. One of those dreams was relocating to the new world. His employer Trebor Confections would be the means to that end. Harold convinced Trebor of a burgeoning market for British sweets in Canada. The country was courting the British Empire for aspiring immigrants. At the time, Canada’s population was 14 million, and half its 2 million immigrants were born in the UK. Presumably, the transplanted Brits would delight in the availability of Trebor candies in Canadian shops.

Harold Dolphin, general manager.

Harold Dolphin, general manager.

Dick Bell, warehouse manager

Dick Bell, warehouse manager

My uncle’s mandate was to set up an overseas operation and serve as the company’s General Manager. Harold said he would need a reliable right-hand Englishman to help out. So, when Trebor offered to pay the travel expenses for the Bell family, all that was left for my father to do was convince my mother that this was a good idea. Dick resorted to his brother-in-law’s words of inspiration. He told my mother that Canada would present “an opportunity of a lifetime” for their young son, John.

Travelling several months ahead of the two families, Harold and Dick arrived in Toronto on one of the coldest days of the year, 25°C below zero. They soon signed a lease for an icicled warehouse and office in the east end of the city. Harold hired a small staff that included Trebor Canada’s first and only salesman, a Canadian-born Scotsman, William J. McLeod. Bill, his wife Grace and daughter Elaine, would become family friends for life.

Toronto warehouse 1950

Toronto warehouse 1950

Bill McLeod in 1980

Bill McLeod in 1980

On May 2, 1950, a month before my 4th birthday, the Empress of France pulled into the docks of Quebec City where I was declared a landed immigrant by the Canadian authorities. By train, we journeyed to our new home in Toronto.

Trebor made a big splash as an exhibitor at the Canadian National Exhibition. Brits lined up to buy Barley Sugar sticks and an assortment of other wrapped sweets.

1951 Canadian National Exhibition. Harold at the back. Dick up front serving customers.

1951 Canadian National Exhibition. Harold at the back. Dick up front serving customers.


1951 Canadian National Exhibition. Bill McLeod's the balding man with glasses to the left.

1951 Canadian National Exhibition. Bill McLeod’s the balding man with glasses to the left.

CNE Pass Dick Bell

But making money for the mother ship proved challenging. Importation put Trebor at a cost disadvantage. Other British competitors such as Cadbury and Rowntree Mackintosh were already producing in Canada. After 3 years, it was all over. Trebor terminated the overseas venture. They made a generous offer to bring the two families back to Britain but it was not to be. The Dolphin’s moved to the USA where Harold became a car salesman. That venture was also not to be. Harold’s marriage ended in 1962, and he returned to England where he spent the rest of his days.

My father remained in Toronto and worked in the industrial wire and cable industry in a materials management capacity. He retired from Canada Wire and Cable at 62 and died in 1990 at the age of 70.

The decision by Dick Bell to immigrate to Canada ultimately became my “opportunity of a lifetime.” It afford me a university education, and a successful career that led me back to confectionery industry.

In 1968, I began my business career in marketing and sales in the consumer packaged goods business. After stints at Bristol Myers, Beecham, and Leo Burnett Advertising, I moved to Vancouver and eventually became CEO of Jacobs Suchard’s North American coffee and confectionery operation. At one time, Suchard’s portfolio included a US company known as Brach’s whose specialty was hard candy. Eventually, Brach’s and Suchard was sold and I became a strategy consultant. Now 69 years old, I spend my time writing books and blogs, playing tennis, and enjoying my life with my wife of 45 years, my children and grandchildren. In 2015, my business book, “Do Less Better. The Power of Strategic Sacrifice in a Complex World” was published by Palgrave Macmillan USA.

Thank you Trebor, for that opportunity of a lifetime.

Posted in International, Main, Memories, People | 1 Comment