* Prices may differ from that shown
When it comes to Cumbrian traditional food the most obvious is Cumbrian sausage, closely followed by Kendal Mint cake the locally manufactured candy from the town of Kendal. The history of the product dates back to the late 1860's in which a failed attempt to make glacier mints lead Joseph Wiper to produce what was then known as Wiper's Mint Cake. The product was found to have high energy qualities that made it popular with the fell walkers of the time who saw the product as a portable energy source, much like a 19th century version of Lucozade Energy Tablet. In the early 1900's Romney's would set up in the town and begin selling a version of the product before later buying out the "Wiper" company in the 1980's to become the dominant Mint Cake manufacturer in the area (though rivals include Quiggin's and Wilson).
Romney's of Kendal currently sell several types of the bar, ranging from the original flavour made by Joseph Wiper to a Rum and Butter variation as well as the chocolate covered variety. For those still curious as to what the bar actually is, it's a peppermint tasting bar with a solid white colour, which can easily be coloured and flavoured. In the chocolate covered form it can come in either small versions (often used locally as an after dinner mint) or in a bar form, coming in a brown and white wrapper and a typical 55g size (though others are available). With a price tag of around 40-50p a bar it has become more of a snack treat for kids rather than as a serious energy bar, though it does still sell it's self on the energy feature of the item. It includes a quote from a member of Edmund Hillary's expedition to the summit of Everest in 1953 where the bar was taken to the top and eaten as an energy snack.
The bar comes in a solid state bar about 2 inches across and 6 inches long, though due to what it is it is quite brittle and snaps rather easily. To those familiar with "After 8 Mints" the cross section of one of these bars is identical to that of an After 8, with a thin layer of chocolate covering a white solid mint. The taste of the bar is dominated by the peppermint which dominates the chocolate layer taste wise and tastes quite nice in manageable portions though a full bar can be too much to handle, and due to the high amounts of sugar the bar can hurt the teeth. The mint is crumbly and soft in the mouth and breaks up easily when you bite into it but is possibly a little short on the chocolate.
Sugar, Chocolate, Glucose Syrup and oil of Peppermint. Though the product "may contain" milk.
Overall the bar is nice if a little sickly, and really needs to be eaten in certain sized portions due to the fact that it is quite sickly. For those who like After 8's and dinner mints this is a brilliant alternative and for those living in Cumbria, it's a good way to support a local company. Though Quiggin's and Wilson's are both local rivals, to many Romney's is the ONLY mint cake worth having.
Today I went into town for a spot of bargain hunting, then went to see my friend who works at Milletts. I found a great pair of North Face trainers, which I duly bought. But whilst at the till, I spotted this famous Mint Cake and though... yes, not had that in a while, so purchased this as well.
I have been trying to rack my brains as to when I last sampled Mint Cake. It must be when I were in my early teens, when we all used to head up to Scotland, stop off at a services in Carlisle and head for the shop. I remember it being a chunky affair and just that little but too minty for me.
Many of you will be aware that I enjoy a trip to the Lake District, scaling the odd mountain or two, but even then when I have seen Mint Cake in the shops I have not been tempted to buy any.
I suppose the words, Chocolate Covered probably brought me from my Mint Cake exile...
#So... what do you get?#
My 55g bar cost me 55p, and is... or was... about five inches by two and about half inch thick. This standard bar contains sugar, chocolate, glucose syrup and oil of peppermint. You open it to reveal and very appetising bar!
#How does it taste?#
A bit like a solid After Eight Mint, if I am honest. I say solid, as the mint is thick, but bristly. The chocolate is dark and very tasty. I felt refreshed as I ate it, though, as though it was clearing my head... or maybe that was my imagination. The standard bar was just enough and I was not too bloated, nor still hungry after I ate it. The taste lingers for a while... and on the whole very enjoyable.
Is it something I would get on a regular basis? Doubt it, but I think if I am camping in the Lakes again next year, I may be tempted again... I will certainly buy some for my kids.
#Bit of history... bit of fact...#
George Romney LTD was established in 1936.
From the website: 'According to legend, a Kendal confectioner, intending to make glacier mints, took his eye off the cooking pan for a minute and then, resuming his task, noticed that the mixture had started to 'grain' and become cloudy, instead of clear.'
Did you know that Romney's Kendal Mint Cake was carried to the top of Mount Everest by Hillary and Tensing on 29th May 1953?
"We sat in the snow and looked at the country below us... we nibbled Kendal Mint Cake."
It is British!
Good for a change... or perhaps you may get addicted?