There's Four Kendal Mint Cakes in Kendal

16 September 2013

Did you know there are four different mint cakes produced in Kendal? I’m a Cumbrian and I didn’t know this. I don’t know why I didn’t know because from birth every time I went outside or was exposed to hills and fields my Mum shove a piece in my face - ‘that’ll keep yer going, lad.’
Here’s the options
Here’s the options
Wiper’s Kendal Mint Cake is the original, established 1869. It was Joseph Wiper who created the first Kendal Mint Cake by accident when he overcooked his ingredients and his recipe went all cloudy and squidgy. That’s what happens when I cook. The locals loved it and the product started shipping throughout the north. It was his great nephew Robert Wiper who cottoned on to its energy giving properties and supplied the mint cake for Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctic expedition in 1914-1917 and Mallory’s first Everest expedition.

It was these two expeditions that made Kendal Mint Cake famous.

In the meantime, Quiggin’s Kendal Mint Cake appeared, established 1880. Here’s what they say about themselves:

‘We have been making Kendal Mint cake since 1880. This is longer than any other company still in existence and which is why we believe that we are the home of Kendal Mint Cake.’

Wipers are no longer trading, which is why Quiggins can claim to be making mint cake longer than any company ‘still in existence’. This may be so, but do they have any fancy customers to brag about like Wiper’s? No. In today's Trip Advisor world, customer recommendations are everything.

Just before Shackleton and Mallory made mint cake famous, Wilson’s Kendal Mint Cake joined the elite group, established 1913. They say their ‘Kendal Mint Cake is still made in exactly the same way as it was nearly 100 years ago, stirring the sugar by hand in copper pans to get that magic taste.’

Around this time, something else amazing happened. One of these manufacturers (don't know which one) decided to take the mint cake to even greater heights - and coated it in chocolate. Skadoosh. That's the sound of my eyes squelching inwards from the sweetness. How much energy can one person contain?

Finally Romney’s established themslves in 1918 and started making their own recipe. Romney’s managed to get some great customers as well. Their greatest moment was supplying mint cake to Hillary and Tenzing for their first successful Everest ascent. This is what Hillary said on top of the world:

"We sat on the snow and looked at the country far below us ….. we nibbled Kendal Mint Cake." "It was easily the most popular item of our high altitude ration - our only criticism was that we did not have enough of it."

Romney’s were now the tops. They bought the Wipers company in 1987 and continue to make it with their original recipe.

So, that’s the four choices.

If you’ve had Kendal Mint Cake, chances are it’s Romney’s, they have stockist around the UK and also distribute abroad, whereas the others just sell mostly around the Lake District.

How to make your own

The recipe is super secret but if you’ve got too much time on your hands and you want to make your own according to recipewise these are the ingedients

Water – 150ml
Glucose Syrup – 25ml
Peppermint oil – 3 drops
White Sugar – 500g

Boil it up in a copper pan, stirring continuously and then let it cool.

How does it compare to other energy products on the market today?

SIS Go Gel – your get 20g of carbohydrate per sachet. Buy a pack of 6 and they cost about £1 per sachet, so that’s £1 for 20g of carbohydrate

A 500ml bottle of Lucozade Sport – 32g of carbohydrate and some burping for about £1.20 so that’s 75p for 20g of carbohydrate.

A 40g bar of Kendal Mint Cake costs about 50p, this will give you 40g of carbohydrate. So that’s 25p for 20g of carbohydrate.

Winner: Kendal Mint Cake.
Loser: Teeth.

Whenever I’m doing an endurance event and I’m gulping down energy drinks and swallowing snot, I mean gels, all day, there is no greater pleasure than stuffing in a bit of Kendal Mint Cake. It's got taste, and after a while on the other stuff, your tongue is withering away in your mouth desperate for something tasty.

Kendal Mint Cake is tasty, whichever one you choose. In small chunks.

Anyway, you can't ignore customer feedback from Shackleton, Mallory, Hillary and Tenzing.

Enjoy the sugar and thanks for reading.

Ian Young

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