Who doesn’t love a sherbet fountain? Next time you are savouring that delicious combination of sweet powder clinging to a liquorice stick, you might pause to imagine the history behind that wonderful sensation. 

The sherbert fountain is getting on for 100 years old. One of Britain’s most treasured confectionery brands, Barratts, introduced them in 1925.

That wasn’t the start of the Barratts journey. George Osbourne Barratt and his brother, James John Barrat began their confectionery partnership back in 1848. 

Toffee for all.

Success came the brothers’ way with hard candies such as brandy snaps and coconut chips. George soon went solo with his sweets and was to strike lucky thanks to a manufacturing error with his toffee. ‘Stickjaw toffee’ came about as a result of over boiling a batch. It became a massive hit, particularly with the working classes.

Fire fighting becomes a habit.

George had to recover from several fires in his factories over the years. He had 2 factories on Sherperdess Walk by 1884. One of them suffered substantial damage that year. The other suffered a similar fate a year later.

None of this seemed to hold the company back, nor did the workforce going on strike in 1890. The company was employing over 2000 people by 1899 when another fire struck, causing £100,000 of damage. Yet Barretts continued to go from strength to strength.

It’s a family affair.

With his business stronger than ever, George elected to retire in 1902. His four children became the beneficiaries, as he passed the brand on to them. They continued to be as committed as their father and the whole world knew about the success of Barretts.

Sadly, George passed away in 1906. The siblings were still growing the business. They honoured the memory of their dad the following year by gifting every one of their employees a 14 carat gold watch.

Barretts are widely credited with inventing the machines which made batch production economical and the only thing holding them back during and after the second world war was recruiting enough staff. 

Over 200 lines were being sold as fast they could be produced in the 1950’s.

They moved to three more modern factories in the 1970’s and the operation was sold to Cadbury’s in the 1980’s. In 2008, the brand was briefly changed under new owners, Tangerine Confectionery, but by 2018, the name Barretts was rightly back on the packaging.

Three Barretts classics

  • Black jacks along with fruit salads came about in the 1920’s. Still a really strong seller now, the aniseed aroma as they are unwrapped takes us all back to our childhood. 

  • Refreshers hit the shelves in the 1935 and, again are still as popular as ever.

  • Dib Dabs are now packaged as retro sweets but still sit on the shelves looking every bit as fresh alongside more modern sweets.

For all of your Barretts classics, and so many other much loved brands, get in touch today for great prices and fast, reliable delivery.