Do you ever wonder to yourself whose idea it was to launch the Yorkie? And what were the other ideas that were in the running at the same time? Some of our products were created by accident, but according to my records, which I don’t think have been released before, Yorkie was competing against a handful of other chocolate blocks to win the chance to go into production.
Rowntree Mackintosh (who Nestlé bought in the eighties) launched Yorkie in 1976 as a bid to enter the solid chocolate block market. Rowntree’s had been among the market leaders of block chocolate makers back in the roaring Twenties with their York chocolate range, including York Motoring. Advertised by the eponymous Plain Mr York cartoon, the York brand fell out of favour after the Second World War, and the line was dropped in 1966. Rowntree Mackintosh needed a new block, and the artwork below shows you some of the concepts that they were considering:
Variety – a chocolate that may have been influenced the success of a TV show (The Good Old Days; filmed at Leeds City Varieties) where performers pretended to be in a Victorian music hall, and the audience dressed up as Victorians; I think it’s fair to say that it was the X Factor of the 50s, 60s and 70s. This would have been a port flavoured chocolate and looks like it has a layer of dark port praline below, and lighter, nutty praline above.
Boulevard – a chocolate to enjoy instead of a cigarette or cigar after a coffee. The concept was meant to conjure up ideals of continental glamour, so the artist threw in two lots of outdoor café tables, a tram, and the Arc De Triomphe.
Pick-Me-Up – this artwork appears to feature characters like Jeeves and Wooster who were played at the time by Ian Carmichael and Dennis Price in a television series.
Chocolate County – A treacle and humbug flavour bar. It’s difficult to tell what the thinking behind this artwork was, but Ambridge would surely be a better place if they had orchards of trees bearing crops of treacle chocolate bars, just waiting to be picked.
Rations – the successful idea bore some similarity to the modern Yorkie, but here it’s potholers, not truckers who stop for a bite.
They finally settled on Rations, which was going to be a chocolate block ‘to be eaten as a sustaining food, in the context of vigorous open-air activity and characterised as “Rations.”’ However, the name had some associations with wartime austerity and so alternatives that represented enjoyment more than austerity were put forward.
Interestingly, it appears from the artists impressions that Yorkie was originally going to have a camouflage appearance on the wrapper, and on the bar itself. But would we still have loved it so much if it were called O’Hara…?