Thursday, May 24, 2012

Birthday of Joseph Rowntree

In 1836, on this day, Joseph Rowntree was born.  Who is he and why is he important to us here on The Chocolate Cult?  Where to begin?

He was born into a Quaker family and thus he had a duty to run a profitable but also very fair business.  He joined his brother in 1869 and by 1875 Joseph as describing "himself as a cocoa manufacturer". (2)

Joseph continued in this firm until 1923 when he finally retired leaving behind a legacy of cocoa and chocolate products as well as a community focus that was common to Quaker chocolatiers of this period.  Today three trust funds carry out his charitable work and another has been added later in the company's life.

Rowntree continued to make chocolate throughout the 20th century and merged with Mackintosh's in 1969.  By 1988 it was acquired by Nestlé after a contentious fight with another company.  Only a few products today are manufactured using the Rowntree name.  Just like the Vanhouten cocoas, these products are primarily available in Europe, but especially in the UK.  I hope some of our UK readers let us know if they've had any Rowntree chocolate items.

1: Image from JRHT
2: Information from the Rowntree Society


Pauline said...

ell of course I will~! The most famous is the Kit Kat licensed to Hershey in the US. The Kit Kat was sold in many vending machines at work places and considered a staple in many lunch boxes for kids and grown ups alike. The second most well known is the Aero bar full of air bubbles in the chocolate. I don't know of a US equivalent?
However, the important thing is what Joseph Rowntree achieved in his care of his workers and his overall work ethics ahead of his time . Happy Birthday Mr Rowntree we still have a lot to learn from you!

TammyJo Eckhart said...

Thanks for sharing, Pauline. I've seen the Aero bar in international food stores around me so we could find them in the USA.

I'll be looking at Kit Kats next month with an interview... stay tuned for that one.

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