Jelly Babies: How it started

Updated: December 7, 1998

Rewritten from a newspaper article, newspaper unknown, original author Penny Chorlton. With additions by Richard H. Poser II from other overheard or commonly known information.

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Originally known as Peace Babies, Jelly Babies were launched 75 Years ago by Bassett's - one of Britain's oldest sweets manufacturers - to celebrate the end of the first world war

Peace Babies were popular between the wars, but production ceased in the Second World War because of a shortage of raw materials. They came back in 1953, renamed Jelly Babies.

There was a great deal of competition among the more than 580 confectioners in business in the fifties. Bassett's took over Wilkinson's, a liquorice-maker, in 1961. Five years later they acquired Barrett, then the leading sweets maker, and Jacksons, who made medicated sweets, and then, in the Eighties, Jamesons, the chocolate maker.

In 1989 Bassett's itself was gobbled up by Cadbury Schweppes, who had also acquired Trebor, famous for its mints. The company, now known as Trebor Bassett, is Britain's largest sweets maker.

To mark all these corporate changes, Jelly babies were given a more streetwise look in 1989. Each of the six "babies" was given a name and an identity as well as a colour. There is now pink baby Bonny, who wears a nappy and frilly bonnet, and the rather nauseatingly named Boofuls, the blue baby, who is always crying.

Bumper, the green clumsy one, is a haphazard shape, arms and legs akimbo, and wears a bum-bag. Bubbles, a female, sports a pony tail and is coloured yellow. The remaining two are Big Heart, who is grey and wears trainers, and Brilliant, the leader of the gang, who is red and wears green baseball boots.

Adults are not averse to jelly babies - perhaps they evoke memories of childhood. Research found that women who had children were more inclined to bite the heads off first, while those who were childless ate them whole. No great psychological conclusions have been drawn from this.

In blindfold tests, the most popular flavour was strawberry, followed by lime, blackcurrant, lemon, raspberry, and orange.

Three million Jelly Babies are eaten each week. They are permanently in the sweets Top 20, with sales worth 14 million pounds a year.

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