Yorkie chocolate bar was first introduced to the the United Kingdom in 1976 by Rowntree's, which later became a part of Nestlé. The initial idea behind Yorkie was to create a chocolate bar that catered specifically to men, a notion reflected in the early advertising campaigns which featured a male truck driver.
The chunky and robust design of the bar was intended to convey a sense of substantiality and strength. What sets the Yorkie chocolate bar apart from the myriad of confectionery options on the market is its distinctive shape and structure. The bar is known for its very chunky, break-apart sections, each embossed with the iconic Yorkie logo.
The history of the Yorkie chocolate bar is rooted in a keen observation by Eric Nicoli of Rowntree's in 1976. Recognising an untapped niche in the confectionery market, Nicoli envisioned a chocolate bar tailored specifically for a male audience.
In response to this insight, Rowntree's introduced the Yorkie chocolate bar as a robust and chunky alternative to the popular Cadbury's Dairy Milk.
Initially produced in York and Norwich until 1994, the Yorkie chocolate bar quickly gained attention for its distinctive features and bold marketing strategy. The early advertising campaigns solidified the brand's image as a masculine indulgence.
One of the standout figures in the Yorkie marketing campaigns during the 1970s and 80s was the Yorkie bar trucker. This rugged character became the macho star of the brand's television adverts from the bar's launch until 1992. The choice of a trucker as the face of Yorkie reinforced the brand's association with the male consumer.
In 2002, the Yorkie bar underwent a controversial relaunch campaign that sought to explicitly target a male audience. The repositioning was accentuated by the introduction of a tag line boldly declaring, "It's not for girls!". This bold and strategic move was accompanied by a substantial £3 million investment in television and print advertisements, featuring an array of slogans that were criticised for their perceived sexism.
The controversial nature of one particular advertising campaign resulted in 97 complaints filed with the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) within its first year. Critics argued that the slogans used in the advertisements perpetuated gender stereotypes and were offensive. However, despite the significant public response, the ASA eventually concluded that these complaints lacked justification, thereby validating the campaign's continuation.
The 2002 Yorkie relaunch serves as a notable chapter in the brand's history, marked by a deliberate emphasis on its association with masculinity. While the campaign sparked debate and garnered complaints, the ASA's ruling underscored the complexity of interpreting and addressing concerns related to gender portrayal in advertising.
The Yorkie wrapper design from the 1980s
According to The Liverpool Echo, "Liverpool banned the sale of 'sexist' Yorkie bars" when workers from Nestle Rowntree were discovered handing out Yorkie bars only to men in the city centre during 2002. According to the newspaper, "The chocolate bars were later banned from being sold in both Liverpool and Birmingham over outrage about the sexist advertising".
While the marketing campaign was intended to be "humorous", according to Yorkie's brand manager of the time, Tomas Vesely, the "It's not for girls!" campaign was eventually dropped, although not until 2011.
The classic version of Yorkie is made up of smooth milk chocolate, delivering a rich and creamy taste that has stood the test of time. Over the years, the Yorkie family has expanded to include various flavours and iterations, offering something for every chocolate lover.
From the original milk chocolate to variations like Raisin & Biscuit, Peanut and Honeycomb, the brand has successfully adapted to evolving tastes while maintaining its core identity.
In 2023, a limited edition Yorkie Orange Milk bar was made available in the UK.
A Yorkie bar from 2002 with its controversial "Not For Girls" logo.
The original Yorkie bars featured six distinct chunks of chocolate, each imprinted with the Rowntree logo, and were initially packaged in foil and an outer paper wrapper. Subsequently, the packaging transitioned to a single plastic foil wrapper.
My biggest memory of eating a Yorkie back in the 1970s and 80s was how difficult it was to break a chunk off, such was the thickness and size of the bar back then!
In a "cost-cutting measure", the number of chunks was later reduced to five, with the "Yorkie" logo now embossed on each chunk.
It will come as no surprise to many, that over the years, the weight of the Yorkie bar has undergone several reductions. In 2002, the bars weighed 70 grams (2.5 ounces). This weight was gradually reduced to 64.5 grams (2.28 ounces) by 2010, followed by a further reduction to 61 grams (2.2 ounces) in 2011. Later that same year, an additional reduction brought the weight down to 55 grams (1.9 ounces).
Notably, in November 2014, the bar underwent another size reduction, weighing in at 46 grams (1.6 ounces). Even the Yorkie King size bars have not been exempt from a reduction in size.
Indeed, the Yorkie bar is now a shadow of its former self, sadly, and if this rate of size reduction continues, the wrapper may soon weigh more than the bar itself!
It's worth noting that while Yorkie was marketed exclusively towards men between 1976 and 2011, the brand has evolved over recent time years to adopt a more inclusive approach. The "Not for girls" slogan was eventually phased out, reflecting a broader recognition that the delicious appeal of Yorkie knows no gender boundaries.
In conclusion, the Yorkie chocolate bar has not only carved a niche for itself in the confectionery market but has also become a cultural icon with its distinctive marketing and robust image. From its beginnings as a chunky competitor to Cadbury's Dairy Milk in the late 1970s, to its continued popularity today, Yorkie remains a beloved treat that has certainly left its mark on the world of chocolate.
You may also like our article about another manly chocolate bar that also launched in 1976, Lion Bar.