It was the decision pf Peek Frean & Co. to expand the confectionery side of their successful biscuit manufacturing business which led to the establishment of Meltis Ltd. In 1908 “Meltis” was registered as a trading name.
In 1913 Peek Frean constructed a factory in Bedford and 30 employees were transferred from the London factory and 100 people were recruited locally. Production started with Mitcham Peppermints and a range of “non-sticky” confectionery, quickly followed by crystallised fruits. Biscuit and chocolate covering also commenced and the production of penny bars was also introduced.
In 1923 the Bedford factory became Meltis Ltd., as a subsidiary company of Peek Frean, and continued to produce a whole range of confectionery and develop new lines.
In 1931 a gooseberry liqueur sweet was developed which was a huge success. This led to the introduction of New Berry Fruits, one of Meltis’ most enduring brand names. At this time Meltis also became involved with the manufacture of Suchard Chocolate, an alliance which lasted for more than 50 years.
During the Second World War many staff were moved to war work making aeroplane parts. The company also produced a vitaminised chocolate for prisoners of war.
In the 1950s Meltis introduced chocolate liqueurs, which would become a leading product line for the next 20 years.
In 1961 a new plant to manufacture chocolate was installed, which could produce 100 tonnes of liquid chocolate per week. By 1966 the workforce had increased to 1,300 employees, 900 of whom were women. Meltis was now the largest producer of Turkish Delight and Crystalised Fruit in Britain, and the second largest producer of liqueur chocolates. The company continued to make marzipan, jellies, caramels and chocolate in huge quantities, and exported their products worldwide.
On January 1st 1967 Meltis Ltd. merged with Chocolat Tobler to become Chocolat Tobler Meltis Ltd.
In 1975 Interfood, the owners of Suchard, took over Tobler Meltis. Jacobs purchased Interfood in 1982 and Jacob Suchard was formed. Following a management buyout in 1990, Meltis became an independent company once again. However it was not successful and in 1996 the receivers were called in and production at the Bedford factory ceased. The “Meltis” trade name was purchased by Hosta UK Ltd., who became Hosta Meltis Ltd.
The Meltis name also appears on some of the Peek Frean overprints.