York’s Chocolate Story Turns 10

It’s the 10th birthday of York’s Chocolate Story! We love celebrating the city’s heritage and famous confectionery industry. Many people in York have worked in the chocolate industry and have family who have. This includes members of our team. To celebrate our birthday, we are looking back at our exhibitions from the last decade.

Breaking The Mould: The Story of KitKat

(Current)

KitKat is one of the world’s most famous confectionery bars.

Our current exhibition explores the secrets behind the iconic brand. It uncovered the bars history, starting with its humble beginnings in 1930’s York. It was launched as Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp. Back when chocolate was a luxury, the bar was the most affordable treat on the market.

Text on bar reads: Rowntree's Kit Kat. Because no milk can be obtained for chocolate manufacturer, the Chocolate Crisp you knew in peacetime can no longer be made. Kit Kat is the nearest psossible product at the present time. The bar is wrapped in foil and blue packaging.
Wartime KitKat

The KitKat has evolved over the years in more ways than just a name and packaging change. Different flavours and varieties have emerged. There is the two-finger bar, the KitKat Chunky and 2018’s Ruby KitKat. It is also Japan’s favourite confectionery with over 300 flavours on the market. The bar has become the world’s favourite way to “have a break”.

Times of Change: Women and Confectionery

(2018)

This exhibition launched on International Women’s Day. It focused on the role of women in York’s chocolate industry. 2018 marked 100 years since women gained the right to vote.

Visitors heard the stories of influential women from York’s confectionery industry. The city’s “Mother of Confectionery” is Mary Tuke. Her company later became Rowntree’s. Mary Ann Craven fought York’s patriarchal society to grow her business. Craven’s is now one of the world’s biggest boiled sweet manufacturers because of her hard work.

We also explored the experiences of women who worked in the factories. This included the strict dress code, salary compared to male colleagues and their vital contribution during the world wars.  

Women using machinery in a Terry's factory as part of the cake-wrapping stage of the production process.
Women working in a Terry’s factory

Throughout its history, female employees formed an average of 60% of the confectionery factory workforce. We were proud to showcase their stories.

250 years of Terry’s

(2017)

We celebrated 250 years of the iconic York brand Terry’s. Their products, including the Chocolate Orange, have become household names. This exhibition explored how Terry’s built an enduring legacy in York.

The company started in 1767 as a small confectionery shop owned by William Bayldon and Robert Berry. In the 1823 Joseph Terry joined, an unlikely apothecary who used his scientific background to pioneer new products. The company is now famous because of his focus on quality and innovation.

We also celebrated the social impact of Terry’s on York. It was important to us to tell this story because tens of thousands of York residents have worked for the company.

Terry's, an iconic York chocolate brand, has a range of chocolate fruits. Stacked on top of each other in their packaging are the chocolate apple, chocolate lemon and the famous chocolate orange.
Terry’s Chocolate Fruits

Chocolate and the People of York

(2016)

At its peak, over 14,000 people were employed in York’s famous chocolate factories.

This exhibition explored the life of workers in the factories, from the coveted Rowntree’s Departmental Football Trophy to the Rowntree’s fire brigade. We displayed a fascinating collection of personal items and photographs that celebrated those who worked in York’s confectionery industry.

Brilliant Brands

(2015)

This exhibition explored the legacies of the world-famous brands born in York, including: KitKat, Smarties, Terry’s Chocolate Orange, All Gold, Polo and After Eight. We showcased how Rowntree’s, Terry’s and Craven’s are loved by the nation and how their packaging has changed over the years.

Old Smarties packaging, back from when they were called Chocolate Beans.
Old Smarties packaging

WWI: A Taste of Home

(2014)

A fascinating look at the conflict from the perspective of York’s chocolate industry, commemorating 100 years since the outbreak of war. Previously unseen artefacts and letters were displayed.

Visitors learnt about how chocolate helped keep morale high, at home and on the front. York’s companies supported the war effort and the war changed chocolate manufacturing forever.

We are excited to continue unwrapping the history of the confectionery industry in York and share the secrets of chocolate making with more visitors. Book your tickets now: https://www.yorkschocolatestory.com/


York’s Chocolate Story
King’s Square, York YO1 7LD

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