Rowntree & Co. Ltd. was a confectionery business based in York. It is now a historic brand owned by Nestlé, used to market a range of fruit gums and pastilles formerly owned by Rowntree’s.
Rowntree & Co. was established as a cocoa and chocolate manufacturer by Henry Isaac Rowntree in 1862 in York.
Henry was a teetotal Quaker and he promoted chocolate drinks as an alternative to alcohol for the working man. As demand for Rowntree’s products increased , the company moved to larger premises in York which were called Rowntree’s Cocoa Works.
A breakthrough for the business came in 1891 when, with the help of a French confectioner, the firm began the manufacture of pastilles, which had previously been imported from France. Rowntree’s would go on to be responsible for such chocolate favourites as KitKat, Smarties, Aero, Fruit Pastilles and Black Magic.
At its peek Rowntree’s employed 14,000 people in York, though later the workforce was much reduced by mechanisation.
Rowntree & Co. Ltd. merged with John Mackintosh & Co. in 1969 to become Rowntree Mackintosh.
The business was bought for $4.55 billion by Nestlé in 1988. After the takeover, the Rowntree chocolate ranges began to use the branding NestléRowntree, before eventually the Rowntree name was dropped from the packaging altogether, except on Rowntree’s Cocoa, Fruit Pastilles and Fruit Gums.