Rowntree’s by Paul Chrystal

Rowntree’s by Paul Chrystal* – The Early History is such an interesting book. I knew only a few things about the history of chocolate and its York connections. The great things about this book is that, while talking a lot about the Rowntree family, with a focus on Henry and Joseph, the author also shares lots of interesting details on their competition: Fry’s, Cadbury’s, Mars, and Terry’s.

The chapters are quite small and he looked over all the aspects related to making chocolate in the 19th century and early 20th century. As they were Quakers, their religious views are described in detail too. The business was complex and it went through ups and downs. I like that corporate espionage is mentioned, especially as I wouldn’t have imagined something like this from people who were so moral when it came to their employees and clients.

Rowntree's by Paul Chrystal

Henry started the chocolate business, but it wouldn’t have survived without Joseph’s strength and determination. They were involved in charity work, but they did much more than that. Rowntree was one of the companies which developed those gorgeous villages for their workers, with beautiful houses that had gardens and good facilities, with greeneries outside and a park, and a school.

It was lovely to read about that. It was also lovely to read about the decent wages they were giving, on top of pensions, insurance, a doctor was hired to help with any medical needs the employees had. Furthermore, the company’s newspaper, something quite usual today but unknown at that time, offered an insight into what happened at the factory at that point and the author talks about this in sufficient detail.

Advertising was something the Rowntree was not keen to do, as they thought the quality of the product should have been sufficient enough, but as a topic is fascinating. Their views and involvement in the world wars is covered in the book too and, again, it is really interesting.

Rowntree’s by Paul Chrystal

Details about the picture: milk chocolate, obviously, not from Rowntree or Nestle unfortunately as the values of the companies are not the ones the founders had and I do not buy them. Pastilles too, these too are not Rowntree.
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Pen and Sword History
Year it was published: 2021
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): History
Pages: 216

About the author: Paul Chrystal attended the Universities of Hull and Southampton where he took degrees in Classics. For the next thirty-five years he worked in medical publishing, much of the time as an international sales director for one market or another while latterly creating medical educational programmes for the pharmaceutical industry. He worked for companies such as Churchill Livingstone, Wiley-Blackwell, CRC Press, Academic Press and Elsevier.
Website & Social Media Links: Pen and Sword

*I was sent a copy of Rowntree’s by Paul Chrystal for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

6 thoughts on “Rowntree’s by Paul Chrystal”

  • I didn’t realise Rowntree’s produced chocolate as well, I know them for the sweets, like Randoms and Pastilles, which my boys enjoy. Sounds like an interesting little book.

  • Despite not being what I’d consider a “chocoholic”, I do enjoy it and would probably find this interesting. Of course I only eat dark chocolate now since I avoid milk fat. Back in the day, I enjoyed Amercian brands of milk chocolate which I know many across the ocean consider inferior. πŸ˜‰
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    • Hershey is mentioned too. πŸ™‚ I haven’t tried it though, because now it is available at some supermarkets, but it wasn’t a few years ago. Like you, I mainly eat dark chocolate, although there are some vegan milk chocolate bars in vegan shops. Kit Kat has a vegan version too, just launched, but I don’t buy Nestle because of their palm&slavery issues.
      The history is very interesting, I especially liked the social history parts.

  • I must admit that we both have quite a sweet tooth, although we both only really eat milk chocolate, so all the manufacturers need to do to deter me, is make plain chocolate only!! Cadbury’s will always be my ‘go to’ brand’, nothing else really comes close, although Dave will eat Lindt Lindor Milk Chocolate Truffles, which are his absolute favourites for a special occasion.

    I love this type of social history book, so I know I would enjoy this one. We have also been following a series on Channel 5 called ‘The Wonderful World Of Chocolate’, which as well as visiting some of the chocolate factories, also features old packaging from the Robert Opie Collection and reminisces about some of the now ‘retired’ chocolate and associated advertising, we remember from our youth.

    Thanks for sharing, I have made a note of the book πŸ™‚

    • I think you would like this book, because it touches on so many different subjects, in short chapters.
      When it comes to chocolate I prefer dark chocolate, but I rarely eat chocolate anyway, as I usually prefer desserts, for example dates filled with chocolate cream.

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