07 Dec
Nestlé Smarties: Fun Facts and History

Nestlé Smarties, those vibrant, milk chocolate treats encased in a crisp, candy-coated shell, have been a beloved confectionery around the world since the late 1930s. With their rainbow of colours and irresistible taste, Smarties have earned a special place in the hearts of both children and adults alike.

So, join me as I reveal some essential but fun facts about Smarties, and also explore their history.

Three tubes of Smarties from the 1980s with orange, green and yellow caps

Three tubes of Smarties from the early 1980s


Smarties were first introduced in 1937 by Rowntree's, a British confectionery company that Nestlé later acquired in 1988. Originally named "Smarties Chocolate Beans", the sweets are actually based on a product from the 19th century. Rowntree's had been making their chocolate beans since around 1882, which were basically Smarties but without the candy shell. 

Are Smarties British?

They are partly British. Up until 2007, production of Smarties for the UK and European market took place at the Rowntree's York factory in Northern England, with around one third being made in Germany. However, since 2007, all European Smarties have been made in Germany by Nestlé Deutschland, so they can no longer be described as a British product. 

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The iconic tube

In the 20th century, the UK version of Smarties came in a cylindrical cardboard tube, which was topped with a plastic lid in different colours. Each lid contained a different letter of the alphabet on its underside. Some parents encouraged their children to collect the lids, so they could be used to teach them the alphabet and spell words in a fun way. 

The plastic lids are now collector's items, and you will find them being sold on eBay for quite substantial prices. The average price for an old Smarties lid is currently around £4.00, so if you have any lying around, you may want to dig them out!

The classic cylindrical tube was replaced by a hexagonal-shaped cardboard container in 2005, which makes them much easier to stack. Since this date, the lids have included a question based on a letter.

How many Smarties are in a tube?

The standard 38g tube typically contains 32 Smarties, but the number may vary between 30 and 34. The larger 130g tube contains 95 Smarties on average, but this will vary slightly with each tube, and can range from 90 to 100.

Nestle Smarties tubes with loose Smarties, inc. White Chocolate and Orange

What colours are Smarties?

One of the key attractions of Nestlé Smarties lies in their vibrant and varied colours. The candy-coated shell is partly designed to stop the chocolate from melting in your hand, and comes in eight different colours: orange, yellow, green, red, violet, pink, brown and blue

The bright hues not only make them visually appealing, but also add an element of fun to the eating experience. Some people enjoy playful consumption by neatly arranging the sweets by colour before indulging, while others simply eat them as they find them.

When were blue Smarties introduced?

The first appearance of blue Smarties was during 1988, in a Limited Edition version, which used Brilliant Blue FCF artificial colourant (E133), an approved food colourant. However, this caused some concern as it absorbed directly into the bloodstream (source: Brilliant blue FCF - Wikipedia) and also turned your tongue an alarming shade of blue!

There were also many sensational reports in the media that claimed that the blue Smartie "triggered hyperactivity" in some children, although there is no scientific evidence to support this. See The Potential Effects of Blue Smarties

In the 1990s, the light-brown Smarties were eventually permanently replaced with the blue ones.

During the Noughties, the trend in the confectionary industry was to move away from using artificial colourants. Nestlé came under increasing pressure to remove the E numbers from their sweets.

When Nestlé removed all synthetic colours from Smarties in 2006, the blue ones were removed as they couldn't find a natural colourant. Blue was replaced by white in most countries. The blue was reintroduced in 2008, with the colour sourced from Spirulina seaweed. 

Smarties in a heart-shaped dish

Can you buy Blue Smarties separately?

Although Nestlé do not sell them, you can buy Sprinkly Blue Chocolate Beans which look very much the same. These can be sprinkled on cakes and desserts.

What flavours are Smarties?

You may be surprised to learn that seven out of the eight different-coloured Smarties are all the same flavour. The candy shells contain no flavouring, except for the orange one, which contains orange oil.

Smarties originally came in four flavours, which were Coffee, Orange, Milk chocolate and Plain chocolate. Before 1958, the light-brown Smarties were coffee-flavoured and the dark-brown ones contained plain chocolate. The orange Smarties originally contained orange-flavoured chocolate, but now only the shell contains orange oil.

Since 2006, Smarties have been made with no artificial colours or flavours.


Smarties are available in the tube format (single tube or multipack), a bag of mini cartons, a sharing bag, and also in a milk chocolate sharing block.

Also, currently available are Orange Smarties and White Chocolate Smarties, the latter featuring the same coloured shells but containing white chocolate instead of milk. Both of these come in hexagonal boxes.

Smarties Buttons are available in 90g share pouches. These are discs of milk chocolate containing whole Smarties. There is also a Smarties Buttons White chocolate version and a Smarties Buttons Orange version, which contains milk chocolate filled with Orange Smarties.

Seasonal varieties

Smarties Candy Cane were released in the run-up to Christmas 2023. They include red and white candy shells, and the packaging is striped like a candy cane.

Smarties Giant Tubes are also released for the festive period. The weigh 120g and are filled with standard Smarties.

In Australia and Canada, Nestlé releases Smarties in the traditional Christmas colours of red, green and white each year.

Smarties Easter Eggs are one of the best-selling Easter eggs in the UK.  

Smarties Mini Eggs in a 80g pouch are also available to buy at Easter.

Smarties recipes

Smarties are also a great way to add some sweetness and fun to recipes. They can be added to cookies or brownies, or used as a topping for ice cream or cupcakes. They can even be used in baking or craft projects for a special touch.

Check out our quick and easy Smarties Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe.

You'll find more than a dozen recipes on the official Smarties website, including a Brownie and Reindeer Muffins recipe.

There's a quick and easy Smarties cookies recipe on the BBC Good Food website.

TV adverts

There have been numerous TV adverts for Smarties since the 1960s. One of the earliest adverts launched in 1961, and featured an iconic tag line at the end "Buy some for Lulu". This was shown in the United Kingdom and Australia.

In 1970, a British TV advert aired featuring a song "Smartie people are happy people", which featured an imaginative animation and lots of smiling children.

In the 1980s, the slogan "Only Smarties have the answer" became well-known. A 1988 TV advert promoting Limited Edition Blue Smarties, featured a space theme with the narrator, Harry Enfield, parodying the eccentric British astronomer Patrick Moore.

In 1995, a TV advert featuring a cartoon policeman on underground adventure aired in the UK, in which he takes a ride on a blue Smartie, through a milk chocolate mouth and surfing a red sea of Smarties.

Thank you for reading Nestlé Smarties fun facts and history. You may also like The delightful history of Rowntree's Jelly Tots

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