Sweets expert reveals country's favourite Christmas confections

Andy Baxendale aka The Sweet Consultant
Andy Baxendale aka The Sweet Consultant

Everyone loves tucking into sweets and chocolates at Christmas – now research from the UK’s leading confectionery expert has revealed the country’s favourite festive treats.

Andy Baxendale is known throughout the industry as The Sweet Consultant and his career has seen him work for many of the biggest names in UK confectionery production.

He was one of the stars of this year’s hit TV confectionery show The Sweet Makers, which is due to return to BBC 2 for a Christmas special on December 15.

The top 10, based on a survey of 1,000 of Andy’s customers, includes many of the treats that people associate with the festive period.

He is using the research to advise food manufacturers across the UK on new products.

Andy, who runs his own sweet factory in Orrell, said: “Everyone develops a sweet tooth at Christmas and for some people the festive period just isn’t the same without certain chocolates and sweets, some of which they will have enjoyed each year since they were children.

“Everyone will have their own favourites and ones they hate, so choosing which sweets and chocolates to buy is a very important task in the run up to Christmas, as failure to get it right can be the cause of heated family arguments.

“Waking up on Christmas morning to discover that somebody has pinched the chocolate decorations off the tree or that you have run out of sugared almonds can really set the day off badly.”

Top 10 – with Andy’s

sweet comments:

1. Ferrero Rocher – sales rise approximately 17% each year and in the UK sell around 130 million – enough for two each for every member of the population.

2. After Eights – a firm family favourite since their launch in 1962 and still adorning Christmas tables across the land.

3. Candy Canes – originally given out in Europe by priests to keep the children quiet in Church – probably in the 17th century – first recorded use on a Christmas tree was in 1847, stripes and mint flavour appeared in the early 20th century. Sales rise by about 5% year on year.

4. Edible tree decorations/advent calendar treats – Perfect for sneaking them out of the wrapper when nobody’s looking, so it looks like they’re still there.

“Before chocolate it was common in Germany in the 17th Century to decorate the tree with apples – not as easy to pinch without detection!

5. Quality Street (original selection) – the selection now is nowhere near as good. The original product was designed by Henry Mackintosh in 1936 as a reasonably priced offering for working families. The name came from a play by J.M.Barrie of the same name.

6. Sugared Almonds – these have been around since Georgian times – originally called sugar plums …………

7. Orange and lemon jelly slices – another childhood memory for many people.

8. Coffee creams – according to the survey, the most polarising treat of all, like the marmite of sweets.

“I can’t understand why they took them out of the chocolate selections. If you like them then there are nearly always some left in the box.

9. Terry’s Chocolate Orange – Another segmented taste of Christmas – sadly not made in York any longer. The forerunner to this product in the 1920s was the chocolate apple – unflavoured and nowhere near as popular.

Sales around 12 million just at Christmas.

10. Matchmakers – Available in several different flavours – mint was my favourite – full of sugar crystals for a lovely texture. I never figured out where the name came from though.

Andy has 23 years’ experience in the confectionery industry is currently working to set up a National Academy of sweets to protect the industry and teach a new generation the art.