The Wrapper Gallery
Enjoy selections of sweet wrappers from different decades.
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Before the Trebor brandname appeared in 1921, the firm used its trading name Robertson & Woodcock.
More medicinal promises and not perhaps the most appetising of names.
Boleyn Pure Sweets
The Boleyn grade of boilings competed with the cheap sweets encouraged by lower sugar prices in the 1920s. The name came from a local landmark, the Boleyn Castle, reputedly associated with Henry VIII’s wife Anne Boleyn, which later gave its name to West Ham’s football ground (also known as Upton Park).
Boleyn Fog and Throat
Not the most appealing packaging. Indeed it's more suitable in a chemist than a sweetshop.
Butter Mints Soft Centres
Surely Butter and Mint would be enough to sell these sweets. But no, there must be medicinal benefit too. Hence they 'Promote Warmth and Aid Digestion'.
Big Game Bar
A Boy's Own treat.
Beat All Bar
In the early days the firm often put its name Trebor into quotation marks.
Barley Sugar Soldiers
Perhaps it’s the power of nostalgia, or the joy of seeing colour from a black and white age, but sweet wrappers from this period seem stylish and enticing.
Army & Navy Panegoric
‘Paregoric’ referred to a camphorated tincture of opium, famed for centuries for its soothing qualities. This unsurprisingly proved attractive to soldiers during WW1, just like benzedrine during WWII and cannabis during the Vietnam War. These popular post-war Army & Navy tablets were ‘so-called’ paregoric because the opium content had, by then, been removed.
Comic copper, cheeky robber and some tasty alliteration - a recipe for selling sweets for much of the 20th century.
The mid 1930s saw two bouts of kingly celebration with the Silver Jubilee of George V in 1935 and the Coronation of George VI in 1937. Like most sweet companies, Trebor hitched a ride with suitably branded products.
Exotic words were a great way to excite the taste buds.
Extra Strong Mints 1930s
Launched in 1935, the Extra Strong Mint was to become one of Trebor’s most famous brands, still strong today.
A special sweet for George V's Silver Jubilee in 1935.
1930s wrappers were so skewed towards masculine pursuits, you might imagine girls didn’t eat sweets.
The Crystal Palace adorned Sydenham Hill in South London until it burnt down in 1936.
For eleven years from 1942 to 1953 the confectionery market was slimmed by rationing. Many children spent their entire childhood with sweets in short supply.
The initial 2oz weekly ration was equivalent to just one Mars Bar. This worked in Trebor’s favour as you could get a lot more pleasure from a coupon’s worth of boiled sweets than a chocolate bar that disappeared in a few mouthfuls.
Kiddies Ration Bar
26th July 1942 saw the arrival of coupon books RB11 and RB11a, rationing sweets for adults and children alike. You could take your book to any shop-keeper who stocked sweets, chocolate or gum and they would snip out the requisite coupons for that four weekly period.
Increasingly the firm sought to brand products with their own colour scheme, as demonstrated here by Frollies. Picture courtesy of London Borough of Newham Arts & Heritage.
Extra Strong Peppermints
The first ration was 2oz per person per week. Consumption before the war was 6.25oz per week so, at a stroke, the confectionery market was cut by two-thirds.
Wartime sweet wrappers offered little respite from the military mood of the time – but that was no doubt fine for the lucky children who managed to get their hands on some sweets. Paper and print restrictions meant packaging was mostly monochromatic but, as ever, the designers managed to pack plenty of action into their wrappers.
In August 1942 the ration rose to 3oz. Prisoners of war were entitled to the same amount, which their relatives could buy and send them via the Red Cross. In 1949, after four years of peace, the ration had risen to 5.5oz. It finally ended in February 1953 in time for the coronation of Elizabeth II.
Wartime restrictions on packaging materials meant many products were sold in simple wrapping.
Boleyn Tiny Tots
Tots It was hard to design enticing wrappers when you had to highlight words like Points, Product Group and Controlled Price.
Orange and Lemon Drops
Fruit drops were steady sellers for many decades.
Launched in 1958 with the firm’s first TV commercial, and featuring a chocolate centre, Sonnets took little time to bomb.
Export Catalogue Products like Old English Mint Humbugs were packaged traditionally for overseas customers.
Despite the ascent of more sophisticated sweets, traditional boilings like Fruities remained at the heart of Trebor’s output.
The Trebor Times helped the firm keep contact with retailers, even if it did not supply them directly.
For most of the twentieth century each product had its own personality and look. Though the word Trebor became more prominent in the 1950s, with a similar-ish typeface, the dull grip of modern branding – with its demand for conformity to a single range-wide style – was still many years away.
1956 Export Catalogue
This 1950s Export Catalogue supported Trebor’s international success after the war. Extra Strong Peppermints were popular in tropical climates.
Parma Violets have a gentle, violet-scented taste, based on the flower from which they take their name.
Refreshers have always been one of Trebor’s most popular brands.
Bitter Orange Bitter Lemon
TV advertisements heralded the arrival of Bitter-Orange and Bitter-Lemon at the end of the 1950s. Thanks to the new marketing budgets, it had become a lot more expensive to launch new products.
By now Refreshers had gained their distinctive pastel striped branding.
Extra Strong Mints 1960s
Although Extra Strong Mints became increasingly popular as a countline, in individual packs, they remained sold by weight. By the late 1960s they were branded Sharps, though they later returned to the Trebor fold.
Trebor Super Toffees
Toffees were always an important part of the Trebor range, even before the purchase of Sharps Toffees in 1960.
The Everton Mint is a toffee surrounded by a hard mint shell coloured distinctively in black and white. It is named after the part of Liverpool which is home to one of Britain’s oldest football teams, Everton FC. Myth suggests the sweet was invented by an enterprising toffee maker near the club’s first stadium.
When Trebor bought Clarnico in 1969, it gained not just the old firm’s mint creams, but also its jellies. These came in two forms: Fruit Jellies made with real fruit and Sunshine Jellies made with artificial flavours.
Sharps Menthol Eucalyptus
Medicinal properties remained attractive to sweet buyers.
Remarkable sales of Regal Crown Sours for the US market helped win Trebor’s Queen’s Award to Industry.
The chocolate muesli bar Swisskit was too far ahead of its time. It failed to sell. Today such bars are ubiquitous. Moreover, the Swiss chocolate trade association tried to take the firm to court because Swisskit wasn’t made in Switzerland; the firm’s lawyers argued, allegedly, that Mars Bars don’t come from Mars.
Another movie tie-in.
Imagine selling kids today a ‘Smoker’s Outfit’.
Sir Kreemy Knut continued to sell Sharps toffees in the 1970s.
More scary sweets.
Horror sweets have long been popular. Children loved heading down the newsagent to pick up some Munchy Maggots or Dead Men’s Fingers. Trebor contributed to this trend with their Trebor Mummies ‘the taste from the tomb’, Terror Curses, Crawlies and Evil Eric Lollies.
Movie tie-ins remained effective through the 1970s.
Anyone growing up in 1970s Britain can probably remember the pineapple and raspberry sweetness of Fruit Salad. In 2003 the firm’s new owners Cadbury declared that both Fruit Salad and Black Jacks were out of favour with the public – so the Chesterfield factory, where they were then produced, was closed. Today both products are available through the Barratt brand, bought from Cadbury by Tangerine Confectionery.
Clarnico Mint Creams
Clarnico was best known for its Mint Creams, mint flavoured fondant creams which were crystallised to keep the cream soft. Together with Chocolate Mint Creams, which cased the creams in fine dessert chocolate, Clarnico dominated this sector of the market.
Kids have always loved sweet cigarettes. As Dylan Thomas wrote in A Child’s Christmas in Wales: ‘Ah! The packet of cigarettes: you put one in your mouth and you stood at the corner of the street and you waited for hours, in vain, for an old lady to scold you for smoking a cigarette, and then with a smirk you ate it.’
Blobs featured a hard boiled exterior with a soft centre, and flavours ‘you don’t expect to find in a sweet’ such as toffee apple and fizzy cider. Trebor launched them with their own storyline – a lad called Patch whose monster chums prefer to eat trash rather than the Blobs sweets he craves. Promotions included a competition to create disgusting menus for Chef Monster, stickers and free frisbees.
Black Jacks were an acquired taste, with their aniseed kick and their habit of blackening your tongue.
Bazooka bubble gum arrived with Trebor’s purchase of a license to make Topps products in Britain in the 1970s.
Bay City Rollers
What better way to express your devotion to those crazy Caledonian croonsters, the Bay City Rollers, than with these 1976 packs of chewing gum and picture cards?
Refreshers 1984 logo
1984 saw the arrival of a new Trebor logo. The fluttering flag-style banner, introduced in 1977, was not felt to be popular with the public, and was technically difficult to print on small packs. The new, simpler banner first appeared on Pick `n Mix and was then rolled out across the firm’s products.
Introduced in 1981, Softmints remain a very popular sweet. With their hard peppermint shell and chewy interior, these mints do not simply dissolve slowly in the mouth. You can hurry their eating, and quickly start another – an advantage emphasised in the early print ads. Spearmint Softmints appeared later.
Maynards 82 product range
In 1985 Trebor made one last major acquisition. As with Clarnico, it chose a well established name in confectionery, based in East London with a long history as a family business. Maynards was founded in 1896 by Charles and Tom Maynard, whose family had already been making sweets in their kitchen for several decades. In 1909 they launched their wine gums, which remain to this day an iconic brand of confectionery. Indeed, it was this strength in gums and jellies – especially the Original Wine Gum and the American Hard Gum – which attracted Trebor.
Jamesons Knock Out
Since the 1950s Trebor sold chocolate sweets from another sweet firm in northeast London, the Tottenham-based Jameson’s. Best known for their Raspberry Ruffles, Jameson’s also turned out speciality lines like the Knock Out chocolate covered coconut bar.
From Chesterfield emerged the new line Dandies, a high quality high boil sweet with four different fruit and sherbet centres. It was advertised with the help of animated character Norman Normal.
Softfruits arrived in 1986 to build on the two other ‘softees’ Softmints and Spearmint Softmints. With their crisp shell and chewy centre containing natural fruit juice, Softfruits were aimed at both adults and children.
Trebor Bassett Stand Bags
After the sale to Cadbury in 1989, some chocolate products from Cadbury now came under the Trebor Bassett name, along with Pascall favourites such as Murray Mints.
Trebor Bassett Fundays
In early 1999 Trebor Bassett, under Cadbury’s control, pruned its minor brands severely. Where once there had been 57 lines of sweets under nine brands such as Sharps and Pascall, now there would be 25 lines under the single Bassett’s Fundays brand. All were also available in half pound bags, the successful new format for family confectionery in the mid 1990s. One year later, the firm repackaged the minor lines, boosting the individual product branding and reducing the umbrella Fundays branding.
Softmints Peppermint 2011
In August 2001 Cadbury announced the creation of a Trebor masterbrand, comprising all products from the Trebor Extra Strong Mints and Softmints stables.
All Trebor products, including Softfruits, were packaged to reinforce the Trebor masterbrand, whose hallmark is the symbol of a red star, easily recognised in the ‘hot zone’ by the shop counter.
March 2000 saw the £4.5million launch of Mighty Mints, a mini version of the Extra Strong brand. This aimed to match the appeal of rival mini mints, such as Smint and Polo Supermints, among young adults. Months later the product was redesigned after people noticed it looked very similar to pills of class A drug Ecstasy. In 2004 they changed their name to Mini Mints.
Extra Strong Gum 2009
In 2009, as part of one of the nation’s largest confectionery launches, Cadbury introduced Trebor Extra Strong Gum.
Extra Strong Mints Peppermint 2011
As of February 2012, Trebor was the UK’s largest mint brand with 40% of the market. The Softmints range alone represented half of Trebor’s £56.7m annual sales, while Extra Strong Peppermint was the best selling single mint product. (Figures Nielsen 18.02.12)