Wednesday 26 August 2015

The Real-Life Willy Wonka

"You won't know his name, but Brian Sollit was the genius who brought a perfect ending to dinner parties and family gatherings at Christmas." (

Brian Sollit's relationship with Rowntree in York, England dates back to the 1950's.  At the age of 15, he was hired as a chocolatier.  David's work on chocolate recipes so impressed his boss that he was promoted to head of the cream department in 1962.  There, he was asked to develop a recipe for a thin mint.  After Eight's were the result; the chocolate with the peppermint fondant became a favourite of many, including the Queen Mum.  

"[Brian] spent months, sometimes years agonizing over the technical details of his creations."  He also created the Lion's Bar and the Yorkie.  Referred to as a "larger than life" figure, the chocolatier was assigned the task of creating a 3 foot Pudsey Bear for Children in Need.  In 2012, he created a 3 kilogram After Eight to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the popular mint.  Over the past half century, millions of After Eights have been sent to over 50 countries around the world.

Brian Sollit not only loves chocolate but also Christmas, two things that go hand in hand.  "Every surface in my house is covered with Father Christmases" explained the Rowntree chocolatier.  Sadly, he never found a wife; some say he was married to his job.  

In 1964, author Roald Dahl penned the novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  First published in the United Kingdom, the novel sold 10,000 in the first week after it came out in the United States.  Like the After Eight, the novel was a huge success, going on to be read in classrooms all over the continent.  In 1971, the novel was adapted for the big screen starring Gene Wilder.

Brian Sollit referred to After Eight mints as the highlight of his career. Here he presents a giant version to parliament to mark the 50th anniversary in December 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment