RJ’s Licorice – now avaliable in a Kapiti in a Box

RJWhat RJs know about licorice that you didn’t!

Licorice Facts

– The liquorice plant is a perennial herb belonging to the pea family.- The word ‘Liquorice’ comes from the Greek meaning of ‘Sweet Root’.

– There are 20 different species that grow in Europe and Asia, Australia, England and North and South America. England is home to wild liquorice

also known as rest-harrow or cammock.

– The Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Assyrians, Babylonians and the ancient Chinese all used liquorice as a flavouring and a medicine.

– In ancient China, liquorice was believed to give strength, prolong life and has been attributed to having divine powers of healing.

– In Egypt the Pharaohs used liquorice to create a traditional drink called erqesos, which was consumed as a healing tonic.

– Ancient Greek and Roman Sweets included nougat and liquorice.- In the Buddist religion, an infusion of liquorice root is used in the

ceremony of bathing the statue of the Buddha on the morning of his birthday.

– Brahma, the Hindu god praised liquorice as a ‘General tonic, cosmetic and elixir of life”.

– How Liquorice was introduced to Britain is a mystery. The Romans could have imported it or it is possible that it was bought back from the Middle East at the time of the crusades.

– After the fall of the Roman Empire, liquorice appears to have survived in Britain as a medicinal plant in monasteries founded by Mediterranean

religious orders, used by Benedictine and Dominican monks.

– Liquorice was recorded in England as early as 1200 at the time of King Arthur and King Lear.

– In Elizabethan England, liquorice was used as a sweetener.

– In the 1700’s Liquorice production was focused in Pontefract (Yorkshire),Worksop and London and was mainly grown for medicinal purposes and sent around the country. In 1853 Pontefract was the only producer of Liquorice in England.


– In 1701 the Borough of Pontefract tried to ban the sale of liquorice plants outside the town. They wanted to stop a rival industry being set up outside the Borough. Inhabitants of Pontefract were forbidden to sell, give or lend any Liquorice shoots or buds to anyone outside the borough and there were large penalties, which went to the poor.

– By 1720, The Dunhill family rented the land in Pontefract castle to grow liquorice.

– George Dunhill, who became a chemist, is reputed to have added sugar to the medicinal recipe to make the first liquorice sweet. He was seven years old at the time and wanted to put sugar on the liquorice he was given as a medicine. These sweets are known as Pontefract cakes.

– By 1900 there were at least 10 liquorice factories in Pontefract and it was a major employer of the town, particularly of women.

– In 1872, Pontefract’s liquorice industry played a part in national politics. Pontefract had the first by-election held under the new system. It seems that locally and nationally, the ballot boxes were held in contempt. This can be seen by the fact that the wax seals on the surviving boxes do not represent the ancient borough of Pontefract’s coat of arms, but show instead the emblem of Frank Dunhill’s Liquorice factory. The development of world democracy has therefore literally been stamped with Liquorice!

– Until the 1960s Pontefract cakes were all stamped by hand, by a woman known as a “caker” or a “thumper”. Greased tins or trays were supplied. A lump of liquorice paste was then taken, kneaded, rolled and pinched into little pieces. Then each cake was stamped with a hand stamper. The finished tray was left overnight on a drying table. The next day a “stripper” scarped off the cakes with aluminum scarper and packed them into boxes. A “thumper” could turn out 30,000 Pontefract cakes a day!

– There was a huge social side to the factories. Workers in the rooms all used to sing together, play music and many people remember listening to rock and roll while they worked. The factories also had sports teams such as a hockey and cricket teams.

– Of course one of the perks was slipping the odd sweet in your mouth, in fact one of the factories rules book of 1955 states: “The company has never Liquorice taken exception to the eating of a reasonable quantity of sweets whilst at work, but drastic action will be taken against any person found pilfering or harbouring sweets in clothing…” Some workers do however remember taking out contraband liquorice laces out of factories, tied around their waists!

– Napoleon is said to have always chewed liquorice root, which is said to have blackened his teeth. His valet wrote: “I gave him his handkerchief, snuff-box, and another little tortoiseshell box containing small pieces of Liquorice.

– The TV Chef, Gary Rhodes, visited Prontefract as part of his Rhodes Round Britain series and created Liquorice ripple ice cream. – The early Prontefract cakes were also known as Yorkshire pennies because of their size and shape.

– Researchers in Chicago in 1998 looking into the effect of smells on sexual arousal found that a blend of liquorice and cucumber was the most effective aroma in turning women on.

– Louis XIV’s doctor at Versailles recommended that the “King should only use liquorice from Pontefract as Spanish Liquorice was less medically effective”.

– A Liquorice stick was also the name for a clarinet.

– In 2003 Policeman Simon McEvoy prevented a gas explosion in a street in Oldham by plugging a leak with a liquorice all sort.

– In the James Bond film Moonraker, the character Jaws, played by Richard Kiel, had to bite through a cable car cable. To achieve this, the cable was mad from liquorice strands braided together!

– One innovative wartime use for liquorice was that some women used red liquorice sweets in place of scarce lipstick. If you licked a red liquorice comfit, you could rub the colour off onto your lips and then eat the sweet!

– Liquorice was used from 1906 in the production of foam for fire extinguishes.

– Liquorice has been used in beer for its foaming properties as well as flavouring for liqueurs (Sambuca) and other spirits such as Bombay Sapphire Gin.

– Liquorice has been an ingredient in shoe polish, lipstick, insulating board, compost for mushrooms, jacquard loom cards, an adhesive agent in insecticides and a soothing ingredient in aftershave.

– In Turkey, Syria and Lebabnon, liquorice is boiled with water to make sous, a popular refreshing drink, which is served ice-cold.

– Work was being carried out in 1944 in the USA, Canada and Japan to investigate the value of the liquorice plant in connection with stomach and colon cancer, AIDS, prostate cancer cells and strangely, the prevention of tooth plaque and the development of a pill to help quit smoking.

– Liquorice forms part of a Korean hangover cure. Supporters of the concoction of liquorice root and honey reckon that it gets rid of a headache in 30 minutes by clearing toxins out of the liver.

Now you know!

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