You don’t survive as a business for the best part of 120 years without riding the crest of the latest trends.
And that’s certainly the case with the Wigan makers of Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls who are hoping to cash in on gin’s surge in popularity.
In cahoots with a local distiller, the Dorning Street confectioner has already gone into successful production of Mint Ball-infused liquor.
Now they have been experimenting in doing the opposite and producing sweets flavoured with aromatic versions of the booming spirit.
In fact there won’t be any alcohol in the final products but there has been such a massive public reaction since the concept was announced on Facebook this week, that the boiled sweets are now virtually sure to come out - perhaps as soon as the end of September.
But there is some fine tuning of flavours to be done first and the William Santus factory has launched a competition for three lucky fans to become product tasters. They have until Tuesday to put their names forward and the winners will get the first batches of sweets off the production line.
At the moment rhubarb and ginger, and wildberry gin flavours are looking the favourites to go on sale.
Co-director Gareth Winnard said: “We are just trying to get into a new market and keep on trend as we always do and we think we are on to a winner.
“However we wanted to see what our Facebook followers thought of it and it boomed. We had 2,000 shares and a reach of 126,000 and I don’t think there’ll be a shortage of volunteer members of the public who will taste test a small batch of sweets that we run off.
“The response has been so big so quickly that there is little doubt now that these sweets will be produced.
“There may be a few tweaks to make yet but we have got the ball rolling on full design of artwork, so it could be ready for mass production in as little as six weeks’ time.”
The company hopes to see a revival with these new sweets of a form of packaging which has proved less popular than of yore.
No longer do most people buy their Mint Balls in tins, but rather the plastic packaging.
Gareth said that the firm was hoping to pitch the new gin-flavoured confections at up-market department stores where they would be sold in adapted versions of the familiar tins.
Although there is no alcohol in the new sweets, this is the latest Santus association with liquor. First came Uncle Joe’s vodka which has been sold in Wigan’s Revolution Bar then there has been the Uncle Joe’s gin which can be purchased at Tony Callaghan’s Fifteens bars.
Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls have also been used to flavour ice cream before now.