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Liquorice Allsorts: A Quick Guide to the Classic Treat  

a jar with spilled Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts Sweets

When George Bassett made the daring move to establish his company in 1842, he never predicted its success. But as of 1852, shortly after the opening of the first factory in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, his venture began to bloom and thrive.

Bassett’s steady growth was powered by its flagship product: Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts Sweets.

This product has become so beloved that it is now on sale around the world, over one hundred and sixty years later!

The company stands as a testament to sturdy business principles, directional perseverance and strategic vision.

It has endured droughts and turbulence in the history of its 165 years and continues to be a respected name even today.

But how did this delicious treat come to be?

A history of George Bassett

George Bassett, who was born in 1818 and passed away in 1886, was the son of a farmer from Ashover, Derbyshire. He completed an apprenticeship with the confectioner William Haslam in Chesterfield.

Bassett was a Wesleyan Methodist and had a lifelong commitment to the church. He was known for his shrewdness, attention to detail and perseverance.

In 1842, Bassett moved to Sheffield, Yorkshire and set up a retail confectionary store at 30 Broad Street before opening other stores at Marker Hall and Westbar.

Bassett observed the retail trade to be slower than expected, prompting a decision to enter the confectionery manufacturing business. In 1859, he sold his retail business and formed a partnership with William Lodge. As a result, a steam-operated confectionery facility was inaugurated at Portland Street, Infirmary Road, Sheffield. Unfortunately, they ceased trading as a partnership in 1861.

In the following years, Bassett entered into a new partnership with Samuel Meggitt Johnson, who had previously served as an apprentice; this resulted in Bassetts becoming one of the world’s largest confectionery works. In addition, George Bassett was viewed as a benevolent employer during his career, thereby cementing his accomplishments and legacy.

Today the Bassett factory produces something like 14 million Allsorts a day at its Sheffield plant.

A History of Liquorice

Liquorice has a long and storied history in Europe. The first references to the sweet date back to Ancient Greece and Rome, where it was used as a medicine. Liquorice was thought to have a variety of medicinal properties, including the ability to treat coughs, sore throats, and other respiratory ailments. It was also believed to be an effective antidote for poisons!

The popularity of liquorice as a medicinal remedy carried over into the Middle Ages. In fact, liquorice was so popular that it became a part of many official European pharmacopoeias or lists of medicinal substances. For example, liquorice was used in England to make a popular cough syrup called “liquorice wine”.

Over time, the use of liquorice as medicine began to decline. However, its popularity as a candy continued to grow. In the 1800s, liquorice began to be manufactured commercially in Europe. One of the early adopters of this innovative technology was Bassett’s, a British candy company. At this juncture, the Liquorice Extract used in the product was now imported from Italy, and the fields in Pontefract could not keep up to enable the delivery of such quantities of the classic sweets made.

Anyway, back to the light bulb moment, Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts Sweets were invented, and English liquorice started a revolution in sweets.

In 1899, Bassett’s Liquorice Allsorts were created unintentionally by Charlie Thompson, a salesman for Bassett’s, when he brought a sample of liquorice and cream paste specialities (chips, rocks, Buttons, nuggets, plugs and twists) to a wholesaler. The wholesaler declined each item offered. The salesman collected the sample boxes, which were then knocked over and spilled their contents on the counter. The wholesaler was particularly interested in the ‘mixed’ sweets and made an order. The salesman named them Liquorice Allsorts.

The popularity of this new product was instantaneous! Soon everyone in England was enjoying the unique taste of Bassett’s Liquorice Allsorts. Word spread quickly, and soon people all over the world were enjoying this delicious treat. Bassett’s Liquorice Allsorts has become a classic confectionery item, and the company continues to produce it to this day!

A history of liquorice allsorts in Europe

However, more than just their unique flavour has made them so popular over the years. It’s also their intriguing history.

For example, did you know that Licorice Allsorts were first introduced in Europe? That’s right – they’re known as English Liquorice over there! And it’s not just their name that’s different. The European version of Liquorice Allsorts is made with a different recipe, which gives them a slightly different flavour than the ones we have here in the UK.

Licorice Allsorts first hit the shelves in Europe in the early 1900s. However, they were not an instant success. In fact, it took a few years for people to catch on to the unique flavour and texture of these colourful liquorice sweets. Eventually, though, Licorice Allsorts became a staple in European sweet shops. They are all known by a version of English liquorice, so they are associated with Licorice Allsorts. The allsorts are a mix of different shapes and colours, making them unique and interesting. They are also among the oldest English sweets, making them a nostalgic treat for many people.

Today, Licorice Allsorts are enjoyed by people all over the world. They are the perfect treat for those who love liquorice flavour but want something different from traditional black liquorice. With their fun colours and variety of flavours, Licorice Allsorts are a favourite for all ages!

Liquorice Allsorts in a yellow jar

Licorice Love

So why do we love liquorice treats so much? There are actually a few reasons. For starters, liquorice has a wonderfully unique flavour that everyone seems to love. And then there’s the fact that liquorice is often considered to be a very nostalgic treat. After all, who doesn’t remember eating their first liquorice, the Liquorice All Sorts, or pieces of black liquorice?

Lastly, liquorice is often seen as a symbol of good luck. In some cultures, it’s believed that eating liquorice can bring good luck and prosperity. So next time you’re reaching for a sweet treat, why not try something different and give liquorice allsorts a go? You might be surprised at how much you enjoy them!

The Dutch company we found makes the most delicious “Engelse drop” we have ever tasted! The liquorice is flavourful and fresh and perfectly balanced with sweetness and saltiness. We are pretty sure George Bassett would be impressed if he tried them – they are that good!


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