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Harrods backs sweets from Wales with 'quality, heritage and tradition'.

Byline: By Aled Blake Western Mail

Boiled sweets may be going out of fashion among younger generations.

But a Welsh company is reviving a century-old Swansea sweet recipe - and has just started selling its products at Harrods.

Martin Holt, whose great uncle Fred was a leading sweet maker in the city, has brought back the family label and hopes to corner a niche market for traditional boiled sweets.

After selling the product for around a year at the Museum of Welsh Life in St Fagan's, Harrods has taken on the sweets and is selling around 20 varieties to its wealthy clientele.

The Fred Holt range of sweets is already a popular addition to the famous Knightsbridge store's food department.

Lossin Dant Welsh mints , made by Brays Sweets in Barry, are one of the few boiled sweets currently flying the flag for Wales.

Other traditional favourites available across Britain include army and navy, sherbet lemons, rhubarb and custard, and pear drops.

Martin Holt explained, 'My great uncle was a sweet maker in Swansea more than 100 years ago. He became the biggest sweet manufacturer in the city at a time when there were many of them.

'He learned how to make sweets when he was working for another business and then set his own up and had a factory behind Swansea Market.

'My background is also in confectionery and I worked for 15 years at Rowntree's and then started work for Michton, which is a company in Swansea - known locally as the Chocolate Factory.

'When I told the company about my family background, we devised a plan to bring back the old man's sweets.

'Holt Sweets closed down in the late '50s to early '60s. But we put together a range of old-fashioned boiled sweets and we found a company that could make them for us near Cardiff.

'We approached Harrods towards the end of last year and they started being sold a couple of weeks ago. Harrods are really excited by the range because they are such nice sweets.'

Among the range made are Swansea Mix, described as a 'super product' by Mr Holt, along with familiar sweets such as pineapple chunks, cloves and cinnamon balls.

'My father can remember Fred bringing out wonderful new sweets all the time,' he said.

'He had a great reputation for quality, he produced high quality sweets and made enough of them to sell them at a price people could afford.

'It is not a line I would expect to see in every corner shop, the idea behind it is that it's a story and people are buying into that story.

'On each packet there is a little piece about its history because the sweet is a bit of history. It is not contrived, it is traditional.'

Consumer expert Robin Croft, principal lecturer in marketing at the University of Glamorgan, said, 'These things tend to go in cycles, consumers get bored with old products and go for more sophisticated products and tastes.

'Then what happens is that they get a reaction against that and people rediscover the old tastes. It is something that has been common for the last 150 years.

'The appeal of nostalgia is a powerful pull against modern life.

'The fact this product is selling at Harrods means it will be appealing to a tourist market as well.'

A spokesman for Harrods said, 'Harrods is pleased to stock the Fred Holt range, as it encompasses values very dear to our heart, namely quality, heritage and tradition.

'The large range available will appeal to young and old alike, and is a wonderful example of heritage meeting innovation, since the sweets are produced in a manner that Fred himself would have recognised, but the factory now employs modern, stringent, health and safety procedures.' How to make a boiled sweet: The basic method for making a boiled sweet is, unsurprisingly, boiling lots of sugar.

You must boil a syrup made of sugar, water, and glucose syrup to a specific temperature. As the syrup boils water is driven off as steam, the sugar concentration increases, and the temperature of the syrup rises to well beyond the boiling point of water.

The different temperatures at which the syrup boils determines what sort of sweet you get in the final result. For rock boiled sweets the temperature at which the syrup mixture boils should be between 285F and 299F.

Of course, each manufacturer has their own secret recipe for their boiled sweets, but the same basic principles have been followed by sweet makers in Britain for more than 100 years.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 16, 2005
Words:763
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