17th September 2010, on the menu today...
Rowntree's Fruit Pastilles
Over my lifetime I have tried a lot of different fruit pastilles and on every occasion I come back to Rowntree's - the original and the best. From the iconic packaging to the unique balance of flavours and sugar, the Fruit Pastille is a sweet I love as much now as I did when a child.
Can't put a Fruit Pastille in your mouth without chewing it. All kids love a challenge and this great marketing move from Rowntree's had children everywhere getting Fruit Pastilles just to see how long they could last without chewing one. Indeed, great restraint was needed as the sugar crystals coating the exterior of the sweet melted on the tongue and the fruity flavours developed.
Selective. As a child, there was a distinct hierarchy when it came to Fruit Pastilles: blackcurrant at the top; then strawberry and orange; and, right at the bottom, lemon and lime flavours. I disliked the green and yellow pastilles to the point of trying to counteract their flavour with the others. Of course, there was a floor in this plan when it came to a group of yellow or green pastilles as, not knowing they were grouped, I would continue to put them in my mouth in the expectation of getting either red, orange or black pastille to balance everything out. This resulted in a very large mass of gummy matter accumulating in my mouth - how my teeth survived I don't know.
Getting some fruit in me. As a kid I genuinely thought that the fruit-based nature of these must make them at least semi-healthy - a sort of five-a-day in sweet form! Fortunately, ever since Fruit Pastille packets informed me that they consist of '25% fruit juice' I have found my childhood logic works well in making me feel slightly less guilty about dusting off a packet in one sitting!
This most recent of designs from Rowntrees is a big improvement for me on their previous design. The fruit graphics have been perked up with a more vibrant, animated look, the background now consists of differently coloured green bands radiating outwards and the 'Fruit Pastilles' text has a drop shadow to 'lift' it off the design. Moreover, I love the fact that the manufacturer has got rid of the 'fruit juice' health message that unnecessarily cluttered the old design. All in all, this is a strong update on a design that had gone a bit wayward.
(Above image is a screenshot of a third-party YouTube video)
As with many older designs, Fruit Pastilles used to have a clean, dignified look to them that has seemingly been sacrificed over the years for a more childish, health-message emblazoned one [this has been somewhat addressed in the 2011 redesign]. The green was a tad darker, the fruit graphics were plentiful with a smart dark outline to them and the 'Fruit Pastilles' text was presented in a more sophisticated looking rectangular text box. All in all, it was a lovely design that I would dearly like to see return.
This design, used until recently, was a big step away from the smarter 90s design with misaligned text coming in, many of the fruit graphics disappearing and a "now 25% fruit juice" health message cluttering the design. Personally, I thought it lacked colour, looked cheap and was a bit too childish for a brand with such broad age appeal.
The lemon and lime pastilles have a prominent sour taste to them that I have grown to love as an occasional departure from sweeter flavours. The orange pastille is a solid performer with definite citrusy notes to it whilst the strawberry one is nice and sweet. Finally the blackcurrant, my favourite, has deep berry taste to it which I find balances out the sweetness of the sugar particularly well.
All in all, with its chewiness, crunch of sugar and distinct fruity flavours, the Fruit Pastille is a splendid piece of confectionery that I imagine will continue to satisfy many a sweet tooth for decades to come.
"With that real fruit the only thing you can do is a Rowntree's Fruit Pastille is chew it". Centring of the idea of not being able to put a Fruit Pastille in your mouth without chewing it, this ad is simple in its construction and direct in its message.
"Its no spanner...it's a pastille in the works", what a line! Seeping colour with an animated Bertha-like machine and giant-sized fruit everywhere you look, this factory would make Willy Wonka proud. Indeed, this is one Fruit Pastille ad that has stayed with me over the years and, watching it again now, I can understand why. Colour, energy and a catchy jingle are crucial to a good kid's ad and this one has all three in abundance. Great stuff.
History (as per the Wikipedia entry):
Joseph Rowntree, the son of a Quaker grocer, was born in York on 24 May 1836. After only five years of schooling Joseph began work as a grocer. He started with his father at fourteen but part of his apprenticeship involved working in London. While working in the city Joseph became very interested in politics and regularly attended debates at the House of Commons.
Joseph Rowntree returned to work for his father but in 1869 he left to join his brother, Henry Rowntree, who owned the Cocoa, Chocolate & Chicory Works in York. The company only employed 30 workers at the time, but under Joseph's influence the company grew rapidly and by the end of the century it was an enormous international concern with over 4,000 employees. Fruit Pastilles were first made in Fawdon, Tyneside, England in 1881. Before then, manufacture of gums and pastilles had been a French monopoly. They are commonly known as Mao chews in Burnley, NW England.
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