Look at the quantities of chocolate that somehow inevitably work their way into our homes in any festive season: chocolate oranges, selection boxes, tins of Quality Street. But, for me, there’s a missing item: Terry’s Neapolitans. In a nostalgia-inspired chocolate-cloud of evaporated sweets, every Christmas I miss Neapolitans by Terry’s of York. Because I loved them.
There’s a history to chocolate Neapolitans. In 1767, Robert Berry opened a shop in York selling sweets. When he formed a partnership with William Bayldon, they called the company Bayldon and Berry (PDF).
In 1830, Joseph Terry took over the ownership and the company changed its name to Terry’s of York. A trained chemist, Joseph used his skills to develop exciting new lines of confectionery.
The company passed down through the hands of the Terry family for many years, each generation launching new products. Terry’s first produced Neapolitans in 1899. In 1923, Frank and Noel Terry built an Art Deco-style factory, the Chocolate Works, in York. They continued innovating, introducing their other festive favourite, the Terry’s Chocolate Orange, in 1932.
For me, though, the Neapolitans beat the Orange. I thought them the height of sophistication. Who wouldn’t, with their exciting flavours and colour-coded wrappers? Milk chocolate (blue); plain chocolate (red); mocha (brown); cafe au lait (so French and therefore suitably turquoise); orange milk chocolate (orange, obviously) and orange plain chocolate (a surprising and daring pink).
Individually wrapped squares of rectangular pieces of chocolate have never seemed so alluring.
The Terry clan continued to run the company as a family concern until 1963, when the company was acquired by Trust House Forte. The company was sold on, again and again, becoming part of Kraft Foods in 1993.
In 2004, Kraft Foods decided to close their Yorkshire factory and switch production to Europe. Since 2005, when the factory finally closed, Chocolate Oranges have been manufactured in Jankowice, Poland.
It’s not really Christmas without Neapolitans. Chalk up another triumph for globalisation.