Liquorice Allsorts: Super Sweets That Define Childhoods

Liquorice Allsorts packet
There they are!

If you’re from the UK and were once a kid, you’ll know about liquorice allsorts! These things have been part of 10+ million childhoods. Kind of like Jelly Babies do, but without the disturbing reason for existing.

The sweets are very tasty, but also have a distinctive look about them. They’re kind of funny looking. But! Don’t judge a sweet by its… cover. Judge it by its sugar content.

And away we go, then, to explore the history of these super tasty things.

What Are Liquorice Allsorts?

They’re confectionary made out of liquorice, sugar, coconut, aniseed jelly, gelatine, and fruit flavourings.

They’re available from Maynards Bassetts in packets and boxes.

Once you’re inside to a packet, you get a variety of shapes and sizes of things that kind of resemble mini cakes.

They’re soft and chewy, with a heavy dose of liquorice as kick. Plus, there’s often a mild hint of aniseed. But not like you’re knocking back Pernod, or something.

Very tasty, in fact, are liquorice allsorts! Not at all good for you, of course, but that doesn’t step peckish kids from downing them like there’s no tomorrow.

And the sweets have come to define many a childhood. Us included! The things have just always been there, in a sugary and tempting kind of way.

But they’re popular outside of the UK, particularly in Scandinavia. They’re called “engelsk konfekt” or “lakridskonfekt”. The Finnish call them “englantilainen lakritsi”.

There are also equivalents across the world, including New Zealand (this is important for further down in this post).

And a reminder here that liquorice is good for you! At least in its herbal form and makes for a very nice herbal tea.

But! Just 10 of these sweets packs some 40g of sugar. Not so good if you’re trying to stick to a diet, eh?

The Types of Liquorice Allsorts

A selection of liquorice allsorts

There they are. Look at them! But let’s get into the nitty gritty about this and define the types of liquorice allsorts.

They range from sandwiches to, kind of, aniseed flavoured blobs of jelly. Let’s explore!

  • One is pink sandwich with orange, brown, or white candy and a black liquorice wodge in the middle.
  • There’s a double-decker sandwich (kind of like a Big Mac) consisting of white and black layers.
  • Liquorice! Yes! There’s one black stick of liquorice. This is probably everyone’s least favourite of the batch.
  • A circular bit of pink or yellow coconut with a circular piece of liquorice in the middle (probably everyone’s favourite).
  • Like the long black liquorice piece, but with a central bit of coconut filling that’s either white or pink.

Don’t you dare try to deny that your favourite isn’t the circular bit of pink or yellow coconut with the circular black bit in the middle!

The History of Liquorice Allsorts

The sweets were invented in 1899 by Charlie Thompson for George Bassett & Co. (Bassett’s). The business is located in Sheffield.

Apparently, they were made by accident after Thompson knocked over a tray of sweet samples and mixed a bunch of them up together.

The pieces created used to have specific names: chips, rocks, buttons, nuggets, plugs, and twists.

The product was mass produced and became an immediate hit.

A mildly disturbing company mascot was created in 1926 called Bertie Bassett by copywriter Frank Regan. He began to adorn many advertising campaigns for the rest of the century, such as this example in the ’80s.

For decades after, this terrifying thing plagued marketing campaigns. You name it, Bertie was there—in the ’80s doing stuff like this.

It’s interesting these adverts actually played on horror movie tropes as part of their “loveable” mascot.

Although we get the impression this was done through total lack of self-awareness from the terrifying nature of Bertie. Kind of like Ronald McDonald in his early days for McDonald’s.

These days, Bassetts’ design has been overhauled and the mascot has a much more welcoming look to it. Thank heavens, eh?

Meanwhile, Bassett’s merged with Maynards in 2016 and the product is now created by Maynards Bassetts.

And the sweets are still readily available everywhere! The legend will never end.

What’s the World’s Largest Liquorice Allsort?

You’d think this record would belong to Blighty, the greatest planet in the world! After all, we did make the biggest Jaffa Cake in history.

Sadly, the CON ARTISTS in New Zealand went ahead and thrashed us to it using dubious means. Back in 2016, NZ sweet brand RJ’s Licorice did a big one.

The thing the team created was:

  • 1.001 metres wide
  • 0.768 metres high
  • 0.994 metres deep

A requirement of the Guinness World Records was or RJ’s to maintain the same ratio of a standard allsort.

This the sweet brand accomplished with panache! *Gritted teeth* Congratulations…


Dispense with some gibberish!

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