Posted in Kafevend Blog

Well here we are again having a look at another favourite company found here on the British Isles, and a decidedly chocolatey one at that. Today we are going to examine the history behind Thorntons, the company that's been bringing us sweet treats for a little over a century- so how did it all begin?

Thorntons originally started out in Yorkshire, specifically the rather eponymously named West Riding of Yorkshire. The Thornton family originally came from the city of Leeds, but in 1832 one member of the family, named Joseph, moved to Sheffield. Here he got married in 1868 and had a son a couple of years later named Joseph William Thornton, who would eventually become the founder of the confectionery company.

When he grew up, Joseph started working as a travelling salesman for the Don Confectionery Company based in Sheffield. Whilst working at this job, he realised he wanted to open his own sweet shop and began making plans. In 1911 he achieved his wish and opened the very first Thorntons store on the corner of Norfolk and Howard Street in Sheffield, stocking a wide variety of treats ranging from chocolate to cakes, mints, toffee and more besides.

Being a sensible sort, he continued working for Don's whilst he got to his feet with his own store. He wanted a family member behind the counter however, and made his young teenage son, Norman, the store's manager. Two years later, Joseph felt the business was doing well enough for him to leave Don's and open another store on The Moor, one of Sheffield's old quarters that housed a number of shops and markets. The family moved in above this new store and business picked up with the prime location.

It was at this time that Thorntons started creating its own goods. Joseph and Norman started making some simpler sweets, but also moved on to making their own chocolates out of a spare room in the back of the house. His youngest son Stanley got a scholarship for the city's university, but the family was unable to afford it and tried to persuade him to join the business instead. Thankfully, he was able to attend on a few evenings to study food technology- which obviously was a useful thing to learn.

In 1919, Joseph Thornton died and the business passed on to Norman, now 21. He and his brother Stanley formed a company named J.W. Thornton Ltd after their father and split the shares equally between themselves. Aside from the effects of WW2, the business generally went from strength to strength, expanding throughout the country and producing more and more of its own goods.

If you know any chocoholics in your family or amongst your friends, you'll find it hard to go wrong getting them gifts this Christmas if you pay a visit to a Thorntons' shop or their website- suitably spruced up for the festive period, it's still easy to find your recipient's favourite type of chocolate out of the range on offer. You could also personalise it with a piped message- something you can't do with tea or coffee!

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