Rowntrees has a long history in York, since Mary Tuke opened up a shop in Walmgate in 1725. The Rowntrees name comes from 1862 when Henry Isaac Rowntree bought the business and started to produce chocolate.
In 1881, Rowntrees “Fruit Pastilles” were launched and in 1893 Rowntrees “Fruit Gums” were launched, both still favourites today. The company was known for its caring approach to workers, uncommon at the time, and the company appointed a doctor and dentist to look after the staff in 1904, and built school rooms and a gym in 1913.
In September 1935 the “Kit Kat” was first produced, known at the time as the “Rowntrees Chocolate Crisp”. Other famous creations at this time were the “Aero” in 1935, “Quality Street” in 1936 and “Smarties” in 1937.
In 1969 the company merged with John Mackintosh, and the company name changed to Rowntree Mackintosh. In 1988 Nestle bought the company, in 1994 shutting down the Norwich factory and then in 2006 moving production of “Smarties” overseas, sharply reducing the number of jobs in York.