21 Nov
What Happened to Banjo Chocolate Bar?

Banjo was a chocolate wafer bar that was introduced to the United Kingdom on two separate occasions by Mars, initially in the 1950s and then again in the 1970s, when it was relaunched. 

This once-popular bar has since become a nostalgic memory for those who enjoyed its crunchy and sweet goodness back in the day. The disappearance of the Banjo chocolate bar has remained a mystery for many decades since its demise, and so we explore the possible reasons behind its vanishing act, and try to reveal what happened to Banjo.

First version (1950s)

Banjo was originally launched in the 1950s, as a Kit Kat style wafer bar with a chocolate filling. It was initially named Trophy, but was only available in Greater London. This version was discontinued in 1956.

Two Banjo chocolate bars, peanut flavour in purple wrappers with yellow logo text.

Second version (1970s)

The second version of Banjo was launched in 1976 by Mars. This time around, the bar was more widely available across the UK, and featured two separate chocolate-covered wafer fingers. It featured a crispy wafer with a delicious nutty cream filling, which was enveloped in a milk chocolate coating. 

The 1970s Banjo was Mars' answer to Rowntree's Drifter, although it came in two separate flavours. On the outside, it looked rather like a Twix, but internally it was a very different bar. The Peanut flavoured version featured a layer of chopped, roasted peanuts and came in a dark blue wrapper. Toasted Coconut flavour came in a red wrapper. Both wrappers featured a yellow text logo.

In 1979, a new miniature sized version called Banjo Tea-Breaks was launched, which came in a large sharing bag.

Banjo in the 1980s

Mars introduced a new "Extra Flavour" version of Banjo in the 1980s, which had a 14p RRP. Whether this was due to falling sales is not clear, but this move was not enough to save the bar from its impending extinction. This was to be the very last version of Banjo before its disappearance. 

Wrapper from Banjo Toasted Coconut flavour. Red with yellow text logo.

The disappearing act

Sadly, Banjo was discontinued in the mid 1980s, leaving fans puzzled and disappointed. 

The exact date of its demise is unknown, and the sudden absence of Banjo from stores sparked a wave of speculation and curiosity among consumers. Was it a problem with production, or a decision influenced by changing consumer preferences? 

In modern times, the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Banjo has since fuelled discussions on social media, with fans expressing their disappointment, and sharing fond memories of the iconic chocolate bar.

On YouTube, for instance, comments include "My all-time favourite as a child" and "They should bring them back".

On April 22, 2013, a petition was started on Change.org to "Bring Banjo chocolate bar back into production" but only received 647 supporters and was closed down.

The confectionery industry is dynamic, with consumer preferences constantly evolving. It's possible that Banjo faced challenges and simply failed to capture the attention of a new generation of chocolate lovers. 

Confectionery production involves complex logistics, and any disruption in the supply chain or increases in production costs could have led to the discontinuation of Banjo.

Whether it was a decline in sales or an increase in production costs, the disappearance of Banjo remains a sweet mystery.

Banjo TV advert

A TV advert was shown across the UK to accompany Banjo's relaunch. It featured an American couple singing a catchy country music tune. The song starts with the lyrics, "New Banjo is real special. Banjo is brand new. Light and crispy wafer plus roast nut flavour, too." It was certainly a toe-tapper with an infectious chorus and, no doubt, helped to increase sales of the newly relaunched bar.  

I hope you enjoyed reading about what happened to Banjo chocolate bar. You may also like our post Whatever Happened to Treets?

Banjo Tea-Breaks advert from 1979
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