The history of Liquorice is a long one, in fact, our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have also know of it and used it.
Love Liquorice? Munch on some history.
For an awfully long time Liquorice has been made with love. In the beginning…
700BC; You are in royal company. The roots were found in Egyptian tombs and as early as 700BC Mesopotamian (try saying that at the end of an evening) stone tablets show liquorice plants were cultivated to treat the Royal masters. Most ancient cultures used it.
Where do you find it?
Have you heard of the “Fertile Crescent”? Well, think early civilisations around the Mediterranean & the boot of Italy. Calabria is the heart of traditional Italian production. Growing like weeds its particularly rich in the compounds that give it its unique flavour. However we have made it easy for you to now, just take a look at our shop for some tasty natural liquorice ideas.
Some more history
Romans marched their armies with the troops chewing the root as a medicinal stick and they knew a thing or two about keeping an army happy and conquering.
The Middle Ages
Dark times for some, but the crusaders and monks were bright enough to bring liquorice back to England. The history of Liquorice has arrived in the UK shores.
Monks were recorded cultivating liquorice in the 16th century (think Tudors) in Pontefract. (Where? A town in West Yorkshire which gave its name to Liquorice delights)
Demand for Liquorice root grows, for its medicinal properties and to make Pontefract cakes. By 1750 there were 47 Liquorice growers in Pontefract. George Dunhill (chemist) claims to have made the first Liquorice confectionery by adding sugar.
By 1920 Pontefract had 10 factories employing many women hand-rolling liquorice pipes and cakes (legend has it that women make the best cigars too, rolling them against their thigh, but we admit the quality of liquorice probably has more to do with where it comes from)
Demand outstripped supply and all liquorice extract is imported from Calabria, Italy, recognised as the best. (Other Calabrian exports include Steve Tylers family, of Aerosmith, dad to the luscious Liv)
World War II
Gloom descended with World War II – and sugar rationing until 1954. Together they stopped the UK Liquorice industry. And if that wasn’t enough, the snack and chocolate industry grows during the 1970s. Poor old Liquorice is fast going out of fashion.
Until at last something good.
1994 Saint Valentines Liquorice Co starts to supply quality gourmet liquorice from individual producers. All so that you can enjoy it now. We now have our small role to play in the history of Liquorice.