Huntley & Palmers Ltd. was a biscuit making company established in Reading in 1822 by Joseph Huntley who opened a shop which sold biscuits and confectionery.
Joseph Huntley retired in 1838, handing control of the business to his older son Thomas. In 1841 Thomas’s cousin George Palmer joined him as partner. The company soon outgrew its original shop and moved to a factory on King’s Road in 1846.
Thomas Huntley died in 1857, but George Palmer continued to direct the firm successfully aided by his brothers, William and Samuel, and subsequently by his sons, as heads of the company. The firm became biscuit maker to the British Royal Family and in 1865 expanded into Europe.
At its height Huntley & Palmers employed over 5,000 people and in 1900 it was the world’s largest biscuit company.
The origins of the company’s success lay in a number of areas. It provided a wide variety of popular products, producing 400 different varieties of biscuit by 1903, and mass production enabled it to price its products keenly. Biscuits were exported all over the world, perfectly preserved in locally produced, elaborately decorated biscuit tins. The tins proved to be a powerful marketing tool, and Huntley & Palmers biscuits came to symbolise the commercial power and reach of the British Empire.
In 1921 Huntley & Palmers amalgamated with Peek Frean to create Associated Biscuit Manufacturers Ltd. Both companies retained their own brands and premises. In 1982 Associated Biscuits was acquired by Nabisco. In 1989 Nabisco sold the Associated Biscuit brands, including Huntley & Palmers, to Danone.