by Jeffrey Davies
Here at Ryan's, Rowntree's Jelly Tots are among our biggest sellers. Many customers remember them from childhood and are eager to get their hands on a nostalgic treat.
But did you know that the creation of Jelly Tots was an accident?
These candies are sold under the Rowntree's brand, a British confectionary company.
They were responsible for the introduction of the Kit Kat, Aero, Smarties, and Rolo, as well as Fruit Pastilles and Quality Street. Rowntree's was bought by Nestle UK in 1988, who owns and operates the brand today.
In 1965, Rowntree's hired Dr. Brian Boffey, a chemist, as a research scientist for the company. At the time, he was trying to create a powdered form of jelly that would set immediately after adding water.
Dehydrated jelly was ultimately a failed experiment back then, but collateral damage from the venture left him with tiny droplets that resembled something like a gumdrop candy.
The company saw potential and decided to indeed transform these jelly drops into a candy by adding flavor to them. So the Jelly Tot was born, and they began selling out all over England.
Dr. Boffey never individually profited off the creation, however, so sole ownership of Jelly Tots remains with Rowntree's. He didn't mind though, commenting in an interview in 2019 that the company was very good to him at the time and that he prefers chocolate treats, anyway.
The company was soon approached by NASA to help create freeze-dried food for astronauts in the Apollo space mission that would land on the moon, and Boffey was their man. The operation was successful, even if the food didn't taste very good according to Dr. Boffey.