Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Writer – Robbie Cheadle – The York Chocolate Story Part One

Delighted that over the next five weeks, author Robbie Cheadle will be sharing the The York Chocolate story with us, following her recent trip to the UK.. And I will be featuring a different Sir Chocolate Story and Cookbook each week.

The York Chocolate Story – Part One – Mary Tuke and the Rountree brothers

My family and I visited York on our recent trip to the UK. I had no idea that York has a great chocolate making past or that this city is the UK’s home of chocolate.

Mary Tuke

Mary Tuke was born in York in 1695, to a prominent Quaker family; her grandfather was one of 4,000 people jailed for their beliefs in the 1660s.

In 1725, Mary opened a shop in Walmgate selling groceries. Her shop specialised in selling tea, coffee and cocoa, the last of which was sold as a solid cake. During the Georgian era, cocoa would have been served to the wealthy inhabitants of Micklegate and Bootham for breakfast, mixed with simmering milk or water in an elegant pot to make a chocolate drink.
Trade in York at the time was controlled by the Company of Merchant Adventurers of York.

They set rules and tariffs for trade in York and any non-member setting up a business would be in breach of the law. The Merchant Adventurers went after Mary, tying her up in court cases and threatening her with fines and even prison for over seven years. Eventually, Mary’s tenacity wore them down and she was given a license to trade in York for only GBP 10.

Mary was a spinster and she took her fourteen year old nephew William as an apprentice. When she died in 1752 she left her successful grocery business to William, then aged twenty years old. The business remained in Tuke family hands until 1862, introducing products such as Tukes’ Rich Cocoa, Tukes Plain Chocolate and Tukes Diary Chocolate, when the cocoa division of Tuke & Co was sold to Henry Isaac Rountree.

The Rountrees

In 1869, his brother Joseph joined the company, which was failing, and used his experience as a master grocer to turn the company around. The first great success for the Rountree brothers came in 1881 when, with the help of a French confectioner, the firm began to manufacture pastilles which had previously been imported from France.

In 1883, Henry died at the age of 45 years old and Joseph took over the business. He developed Rountree’s Elect Cocoa in 1887 which also became very popular.

It was George Harris, the husband of Henry’s granddaughter, Frieda, who was instrumental in creating the confectionary giant we know today. George pioneered a new style of branding in terms of which brand was king, and brought Rountree’s into the modern age. It was during this period that many of Rountree’s biggest brands were created including KitKat, Black Magic, Aero, Dairy Box, Smarties, Rolos and Polos which all came out in the 1930s.

During the 1960’s, Rountree’s merged with Mackintosh’s to become Rountree Mackintosh. Subsequent to this merger, the company launched Quality Street, Rolo and Toffee Crisp.

Rountree’s was acquired by Nestlé in 1988 and the Rowntree brand continues to be used to market Nestlé’s jelly sweet brands, such as Fruit Pastilles and Fruit Gums.

KitKat vending machine from the 1970’s on display at York’s Chocolate Story.

Previous Rountree brand leaders used in the creation of Chocolate Land and its characters

Chocolate house with a KitKat roof and Smarties decoration which features on the front cover of Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk Story and Cookbook

If you are visiting York then you cannot miss a visit to museum:

©Robbie Cheadle 2019

About Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk Story and Cookbook by Robbie and Michael Cheadle.

The Condensed Milk River where Sir Chocolate goes fishing has stopped flowing. The water creatures are losing their homes. Can Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet solve this problem? Five lovely new recipes are also included.;

One of the reviews for the book

What a lovely, fun book to read! The poems are fun to read out loud and the illustrations of fondant look so yummy. The recipe is there for making marshmallow flowers too so we can try our hand at making our own. This is the first book I’ve read in the series and want to read the others. We’re always looking for new projects we can do together and this project is the next on our list! The trolls are adorable, too. Highly recommended.

A selection of other Sir Chocolate stories and other books by Robbie Cheadle

Read all the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Robbie on Goodreads:

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie, short for Roberta, is an author with five published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with her son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about her mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with her mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of Robbie’s children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications. Robbie has recently branched into adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential her children’s books from her adult writing, these will be published under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. Robbie has two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award winning author, Dan Alatorre. These short stories are published under Robbie Cheadle.

I have been drawn to the horror and supernatural genres of books all my life. At the age of ten years old I embarked on reading Stephen King’s books including The Shining and Salem’s Lot. These books scared me so much I had to put them aside by 6P.M. in the evening in order to get a good night’s sleep but they also fascinated me. I subsequently worked my way through all of Stephen King’s earlier books as well as those of Dean R. Koontz.

I have read a large number of classics, in particular, I enjoy Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Charles Dickens and the works of the Bronte sisters.

I am hugely interested in the history of the United Kingdom as well as the mythology and tales of the paranormal that are abundant on this intriguing European island.

Connect to Robbie Cheadle

Website/Blog Roberta Writes:

My thanks to Robbie for sharing this series with us and please join us again next Monday for Part Two of York’s Chocolate Story..


101 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Writer – Robbie Cheadle – The York Chocolate Story Part One

  1. I enjoyed this, well done, Robbie. And when I read in your bio about your interest in Steven King, it made me think of recently meeting his protege at The Chanticleer Review’s conference, in Bellingham, Washington. Look into the author, J.D. Barker. I heard him talk 3 times at this conference, and he brought the house down. Typically not my genre, but I read this author’s latest and it was masterful. Young enough lad; now co-writes with Steven King 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thanks, Robbie. I love York and I remember visiting the house of one of the families who were also involved in the chocolate manufacturing in the town (Terry’s Chocolate, in that case, Goddards House and Garden, well worth a visit). I look forward to your stories in the coming weeks! Thanks, Sally!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. What a sweet history information. Thank you to Robbie, and you Sally for reposting. Also never heared about this, but somewhere in every country in the past there need to be a city with people loving chocolate and other sweets. 😉 Horrible living without these things. Michael

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Fascinating information, Robbie. I recall going on a tour of Rowntrees in York in 1977. It was hard to see all those chocolates and not eat one. We each got a box of Black Magic when we completed the tour. Kit Kats are hubby’s favourite chocolate bar. A great post.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I was fascinated to learn about the history of chocolate in this country. Nowhere had I seen this before. As far as a chocolate river is concerned, I would defy my doctor and without doubt, love to swim in it. I found the real and the fanciful to be compelling stories.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. What an interesting history. I remember reading about the chocolate “cakes” and that it was some time before sweet chocolate showed up for mass consumption. I’m familiar with Nestle, of course, but not the history of Tuke and Rountree. Thanks for the chocolate trivia, Robbie and Sally.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Now i’m craving chocolate say the least! A well articulated story that I can use maybe while teaching childrentenacity, perseverance, fame …and chocolate! Brings to mind the Malaysian story of how Bengawan Solo biscuit products became popular.

    Liked by 3 people

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