Chewits sweets are a retro favourite that were given the unfortunate name of Chewzits for their 1963 launch! Anyone who grew-up in the late 20th century (the 1970s, 80s and 90s), will probably remember two things about Chewits, firstly, the original dinosaur-like monster called Chewy in the TV adverts, and secondly, Ice Cream flavour - but more about those in a moment!
The earliest form of Chewits were originally made by J A & P Holland, known locally as Hollands of Southport, and the factory was based at 23a Cross Street, Southport, England. The sweet was originally a chewy toffee with a softer texture than the Chewits that launched in 1965.
The cube-shaped sweet was invented by John Arthur Holland. His Father (also called John), had invented a method for producing creamy toffee back in the 1890s.
After a takeover in 1965 by John Goldsmith's Cavenham Foods, Chewzits became Chewits. Goldsmith amalgamated several confectionary companies (including J A & P Holland) into Cavenham's Confectionary.
The first flavour launched in the 1965 was Orange, followed by Strawberry, Blackcurrant and Banana. Since then, many new flavours have appeared, many of which were limited editions, including Rhubarb & Custard, Blue Mint, Apple, and Tutti Frutti.
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One flavour that became hugely popular was the aforementioned Ice Cream, which was released as a limited edition in 1989. Since then, it has gained a cult-like following, and an online petition to "bring back ice cream Chewits" was successful, and the much-loved flavour returned in 2009, albeit for a limited time.
The first TV advert for Chewits aired in the UK during 1976, which was the year of the infamous drought and long hot summer in the United Kingdom. The ad featured a Godzilla-like, dinosaur monster called Chewie the Chewitsaurus, who looked very different back then.
There was no CGI in those days, so the creators had to rely on claymation, a stop-motion animation method that was used in the 1950s and 60s, and still popular in the 1970s. The method was used in many children's TV shows, such as the clay character Morph in the BBC TV series Take Hart, hosted by the much-loved artist Tony Hart.
In the first advert (made by French Gold Abbott), Chewie is trampling through New York City eating the buildings, in the style of an over-the-top, dramatic 1950s, American monster movie. When he spots Chewie, a man shouts "run for your lives, the muncher is coming!". To save the city, a truck containing a giant-sized stick of Chewits on its trailer is driven towards the monster. Chewie munches on the top of the stick and decides he prefers Chewits to the buildings, and walks off into the distance a happy dinosaur, saving the city from total destruction! The ad ends with the slogan "Chewits, even chewier than a 15-story block of flats".
A total of four TV adverts featuring the "Muncher" mini movies were made during the 1980s. In the second advert, Chewie eats iconic landmarks including The Taj Mahal, Leaning Tower of Pisa and The Empire State Building.
The third advert released in 1989 was called "Muncher Menace" with Chewie in London, and carried the strap line "Chew for victory!".
The fourth and final advert was released around 1990, and was entitled "Walls Have Ears". It featured two young boys who mentioned the fact that Chewits were "still only 10 pence" with 2 extra pieces in a packet.
Chewie the dinosaur appeared in a 2001 TV ad campaign by Banks Hoggins O'Shea/FCB, which featured the slogan: "Chew Chewits coz Chewits do it."
Chewie holding a stick of Strawberry Chewits in an advert from the 1980s.
In 2000, a new TV advert aired featuring the song "I Like to Move It" by Reel to Real and The Mad Stuntman aired, with the lyrics of the chorus altered to "I like to Chew it, Chew It".
The Chewits brand celebrated its 50th birthday in 2015, with the local Stockport newspaper Southport Visiter sharing readers memories of the classic British sweet in their article Chewits turns 50: Southport readers share their memories of making the iconic sweets
During the 1970s and 80s, the design of the packaging remained largely the same, with a zebra print pattern and illustrations of fruit representing the flavour of the sweets inside, displayed on the right side of the logo.
In 2009, the Chewits range was given a makeover and Chewie the dinosaur became more cartoon-like with a more friendly look, although gained two fangs. Also added to the range were Chewits Xtreme, with new sour flavours, and the range is still going strong today.
In 2020, the Chewits range was given a fresh new look and Chewie was given a whole new CGI makeover, making him look more cheeky with a funny, goggle-eyed look.
The Xtreme range launched around the same time as the 2009 makeover, with three flavours; Sour Cherry, Sour Apple and Sour Lemon. These are available in sticks containing individually wrapped chews.
At the same time as the makeover, Chewits Juicy Bites also launched in 2020, which are delicious liquid filled bonbons available in a resealable pouch weighing 165 grams. They're available in Strawberry and Blue Raspberry flavours.
Also, introduced to the range were Chewits Xtreme Sour Bites, which are chewy filled bonbons, also in resealable pouches weighing 115 grams. These are only available are Apple, and have the flavour of apple and lemon.
As of 2023, Chewits are made by the Swedish confectionary company Cloetta. They contain real fruit juice and no artificial colours, and are suitable for vegetarians. Some of the range is also suitable for vegans. Current flavours include the classic Strawberry and also Cherry, Blue Raspberry, Fruit Salad and Cola, and are still available to buy in the classic stick packs.
Chewits Blackcurrant wrapper from 1989, price only 10p!
Chewy and the Chewits range 2009-2020.