Swizzels Matlow has been enchanting taste buds for over nine decades, and the English confectionery company has a rich heritage dating back to 1928. Since then, the company has become a household name, producing timeless British sweets that have become nostalgic treats for generations.
In this article, we explore the history of Swizzels Matlow and their iconic sweets, from Drumstick Lollies to Refreshers.
The origins of Swizzels dates back to the early 1920s. Brothers Maurice and Alfred Matlow originally sold hand-crafted jellied sweets at a local market in Hackney, London.
By 1928, the popularity of their sweets led to the brothers forming Matlow Bros Ltd., and they built a factory in East London, specialising in jellied sweets and chews.
Swizzels Ltd. was born in 1933, although didn't officially become Swizzels Matlow Limited until 1975. The Matlow brothers collaborated with a fizzy tablet maker, David Dee. Together, they focused on producing effervescent sweets presented in compressed tablet form, while continuing with their popular jellied sweets and chews. Marketed as Swizzels, the company carved a niche for itself in the confectionery industry.
The company's London factory suffered from serious damage during the Blitz in World War II. Because of this, in 1940, they were forced to relocate to a disused factory in New Mills, Derbyshire, where they still make the sweets today.
On Tuesday, August 23, 2016, the Swizzels factory featured on the BBC TV show Inside The Factory.
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Candy Lipstick and Whistles
These were introduced in 1977, and are quite similar products, both including a white plastic casing. Popular with children, these novelty sweets are still popular today.
Available in two varieties, Drumstick and Refreshers. Refreshers Choos include five fizzy flavours, and Drumstick Choos contain five fruit flavours; pineapple, peaches & cream, raspberry, strawberry & banana.
This British classic launched in 1954, and was the very first sherbet lolly to include two flavours. They became particularly popular in the 1970s, fuelled by the popularity of the action crime drama Kojak, in which Telly Savalas played the lead character. He was fond of Tootsie Pops, and his catchphrase "Who loves ya, baby?" became iconic.
Launching in 1976, the year of the infamous drought in the UK, this fizzy delight consists of a sachet containing two different sherbet powders (cherry and orange), with a "swizzelstick" for dipping. A cola flavour was also introduced.
A true confectionery classic, Drumstick Lollies combine the flavours of milk and raspberry in a dual-flavoured delight. The unique combination has made these lollies a favourite amongst candy enthusiasts of all ages since their introduction in 1957.
A more recent but delightful creation unveiled in 2012. These are foam-like chewy sweets that mirror the distinctive flavour of the classic Drumstick lolly. The Squashies line boasts various flavour variations, including the whimsical bubblegum rendition, going beyond traditional sweets.
Introduced in 1930, Fizzers were the first compressed fizzy sweet. Drawing parallels to the American confection Smarties (not the British Smarties which are very different), Fizzers provide a similar effervescent experience. Expanding on this fizzy sensation, Swizzels has introduced a line of larger-than-life confections known as Giant Fizzers, amplifying the enjoyment of this effervescent sweet experience.
Launched in 1988, these sweets come in a range of fun novelty shapes, such as a teeth and toothbrush, mushrooms and strawberry tarts.
Love Hearts launched in 1946, but were originally included as gifts in Christmas crackers. These tiny, heart-shaped candies are more than just sweets; each one carries a message of love or friendship. A staple in the world of Valentine's Day treats and wedding favours, Love Hearts have become synonymous with expressing affection in a fun and delightful way.
A 2023 addition, which features fluffy mallows with the raspberry and milk flavour of a Drumstick Lolly. Each mallow is pink and white.
With their distinctive violet flavour and powdery texture, Parma Violets have been captivating taste buds since their introduction in the 1946. They made their debut as delicately scented confections, and were initially marketed as breath fresheners. Although an acquired taste, these fragrant sweets quickly found popularity and became a common sight in pubs, enticing drinkers with their unique allure.
One of the company's oldest sweets. These colourful creations launched in 1930, and were originally displayed loose in boxes and sold in paper cups for 1d each.
Bursting onto the scene in 1955, Refreshers are fizzy, sherbet-filled sweets that provide a zesty and effervescent experience. Their combination of tangy flavours and fizzy fun has made them a cherished classic.
Snap & Crackle
Launching in 1986, this is a fruit flavoured chew bar with a fizzy centre. Perhaps, not quite as well known as some of their other classics, but still being made today.
This Tutti-Frutti chew bar with a fizzy centre and vibrant green and yellow wrapper is an 80s classic, and was introduced in 1987. It's still being produced today, and comes with the tag line "The cheekiest chew bar on the planet".
Vimto Chew Bar
A vegan-friendly fruit bar with the unique taste of Vimto soft drink. Made with real fruit juice and natural colours. Official Vimto Chew Bar page
Hippy Bits were a Love Hearts spin-off that featured "flower power" messages, cashing in hippy culture which was particularly popular in the late 1960s and early 70s.
Swizzels introduced the Drumstick Chocolate Bar in 2020, a delectable treat that showcases a blend of smooth milk chocolate enveloping a luscious filling with the harmonious notes of raspberry and milk, complemented by the addition of freeze-dried raspberry pieces. Notably, in contrast to the Drumstick Squashies, this chocolate bar is crafted to cater to vegetarians, expanding the appeal of this iconic flavour fusion to a broader audience. Sadly, Drumstick Chocolate was discontinued in 2023.
Swizzels introduced Lucky Strike mints in 1971, featuring football team names printed on them. Marketed as a playful means to engage in the pools (a betting pool for football fans), these mints offered a unique twist to the confectionery experience. These were relaunched as Soccer Shields in 1986, but were eventually discontinued.
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