01 Feb
Lyons Biscuits: A Timeless Taste of Britain

Lyons Biscuits is a name synonymous with British teatime treats. For over 150 years, the company has been baking delicious and iconic biscuits that have become a staple in households across the UK and beyond. 

For many people, Lyons Biscuits are more than just a snack; they are a taste of home. They evoke memories of childhood tea parties, family gatherings, and cosy evenings by the fire. From the humble Rich Tea to the indulgent Jam Tea Cake, Lyons offer a comforting taste of tradition and nostalgia that never goes out of style.

A selection of Lyons biscuits; Mallows, Fig Rolls, Toffypops, Viscount and Jam Tea Cakes

A Rich History

The story of Lyons Biscuits in the 20th century is a complex one, involving acquisitions, mergers, and brand switches. Buckle up as we navigate this intricate timeline!

The story of Lyons begins in 1851 with Joseph Lyons, a grocer and tea merchant from London. He began baking cakes and pastries in the back of his shop. His creations including Bakewell Tart, Battenberg and Trifle Sponge Fingers were an instant success, and soon Lyons was opening bakeries and tea shops across the city.

Lyons first ventured into biscuit production In 1938. The company bought the Bee Bee Biscuit Company, a Blackpool-based biscuit maker. 

Lyons Biscuits coon became a national brand. The company's innovative marketing campaigns, featuring catchy slogans and playful mascots, helped to cement its place in British popular culture. Lyons even sponsored the iconic Blackpool Tower, further solidifying its association with fun and family treats.

1944: The name was changed to Symbol Biscuits Ltd and sold biscuits under the Symbol and Lyons brand names. 

1956: The company introduced Maryland Cookies.

1990: Lyons and Symbol becomes Lyons Biscuits Ltd

1994: Lyons Biscuits, a beloved British brand since the 19th century, is acquired by Hillsdown Holdings, a food and beverage conglomerate.

1999: Hillsdown Holdings itself gets snapped up by Hicks Muse Tate & Furst (HMTF), a private equity firm.

2000: HMTF acquires Burton's Foods, another major British biscuit maker. Then, in a stroke of genius (or perhaps brand confusion), merges the newly acquired Burton's Foods with Horizon Biscuit Company. This combined entity becomes the new home for Lyons Biscuits.

2021: Burton’s is bought by the Ferroro Group.

2024: Burton's is the number two biscuit maker in the UK.

The Lyons branding remains on all of their biscuit products apart from Maryland Cookies.

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Packet of Orange Viscount and Mint Viscount biscuits

Those Classic Teatime Biscuits

The enduring popularity of Lyons Biscuits lies in their simple yet satisfying recipes. Here is a list of the company's most beloved classics include:

  • Rich Tea: These golden brown biscuits are perfect for dunking into a cup of tea, although some may prefer coffee. Their subtle sweetness and slightly crumbly texture have made them a teatime favourite for generations.
  • Digestive: Made with whole wheat flour and bran, these biscuits are known for their slightly sweet and nutty flavour. They were advertised as an aid to digestion in the early years.
  • Jam Tea Cakes: These melt-in-your-mouth mallow biscuits are sandwiched with a dollop of sweet strawberry jam. They are a delicious treat for any time of day. Their biggest rival is Tunnock's.
  • Fig Rolls: These chewy biscuits are filled with a gooey fig paste and will definitely aid digestion! They are a sweet and satisfying treat that is sure to please.
  • Toffypops: A school lunch box favourite, filled with a creamy toffee centre and covered in milk chocolate. They are a delicious and decadent treat that is perfect for a little break-time indulgence.
  • Coconut Mallows: Classic pink and white mallow cakes covered with a generous coating of coconut flakes and a biscuit base dipped in chocolate.
  • Mint Viscount: These are a real classic from the 20th century. The circular chocolate biscuit features a creamy mint layer and comes individually wrapped in green foil. 
  • Orange Creams: Another circular biscuit covered in smooth milk chocolate with a layer of scrumptious orange creme.
  • Caramel Creams: They look exactly like the Orange Cremas but with a layer of gooey caramel instead. It's wise not to mix the two on the same plate.
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies: Delicious vanilla cookies with chocolate chips. A treat for those not counting the calories.

Discontinued Biscuits

  • Orange Viscount: This was sadly discontinued in 2014.
  • Double Chocolate Viscount: Available for a few years in the second half of the 1990s, and came in purple packaging.

The Viscount branding was given a makeover in 2005 to give it a more upmarket appearance.

Cakes and Ice Lollies

In addition to its classic biscuits, Lyons also produces a wide range of other baked goods, including cookies, cakes, and pastries. The company's Lyons Maid brand is particularly well-known for its ice creams and lollies, and is often remembered for its 1960s and 70s classics Fab, Orange Maid and Haunted House.

Lyons Biscuits Today

Lyons Biscuits remains a beloved British brand, and the company continues to produce its classic, ever-popular products. With its commitment to quality, tradition, and delicious taste, Lyons Biscuits is sure to be enjoyed by generations to come.

So, there you have it! The intricate journey of Lyons Biscuits from a standalone brand to a part of a larger biscuit empire, with a few unexpected twists and turns along the way. Remember, the next time you dunk a Rich Tea into your cuppa, you're not just enjoying a delicious biscuit, you're savouring a piece of British corporate history!

Lyons Toffypops and Salted Caramel Toffypops sold in Norway

Yes, there is a salted caramel version of Toffypops. Never seen these before? Well, these are sold only in Norway and are not available in the United Kingdom, unfortunately.

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