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The Return of a Legend

One of the world’s most famous companies during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has made its reappearance after an absence of 15 years. Huntley & Palmers was founded in 1822 and, during the next 150 years, came to be “The Most Famous Biscuit Company in the World.” As global trade and travel expanded during the industrial revolution and Britain developed the largest Empire the world had ever known, so did this famous company grow, until it became world-renowned for being “Number One in Biscuits and Second-to-None in Cakes.”

Like many of Britain’s longest-established food companies, it was started by a Quaker, a religious sect whose members were forbidden by law from entering the established professions. In this case, a man by the name of Joseph Huntley, supported by his son Thomas, opened a shop in Reading, Berkshire, from where he started selling biscuits and confectionery. After 19 successful years he was joined by his cousin George Palmer and, together, they created a business which, at its peak, was trading in 137 countries. Huntley & Palmers success wasn’t just based on producing unique, top-quality products. The brand’s packaging, especially with its tins, and its advertising also achieved unsurpassed standards of excellence and the company won many gold awards at trade fairs in the decades before and after 1900.

Products with names such as Milk & HoneyBreakfast Biscuits and Chocolate Olivers are still fondly remembered by consumers, usually admittedly those over 40 years of age, who continue to ask for their reintroduction. Anyone interested in seeing many of the visual images associated with this great British institution can do so by visiting the website of the Museum of Reading at www.huntleyandpalmers.org.uk.