Where were Smarties Invented?

I get asked this one so often, I finally assembled the facts and put them here.

Three theories:

  1. Smarties were invented in Switzerland by Nestle
  2. Smarties were invented in England by Rowntree Macintosh
  3. Smarties were invented in Canada


(I didn't find any).


The Nestle UK web site (http://www.nestle.co.uk/about/brands/- select the option for confectionery)

Smarties were launched as Chocolate Beans in 1937. Initially priced at 2d, they were renamed Smarties and packed in the famous tube one year later.

The eight original colours - red, yellow, orange, green, mauve, pink, light brown and brown - remained the same until the replacement of the light brown by a blue Smarties following a successful promotion in 1989. Before 1958, the dark brown Smarties had a plain chocolate centre the light brown one tasted of coffee.

Did you know - Nearly 16,000 Smarties are eaten every minute in the UK.

About 570,000 tubes of Smarties are made at Nestlé’s York factory every day and exported to the Middle East, Far East and South America.


This did the rounds recently as millions of items of junk mail no-one asked for or wanted:

Why Canada is superior to United states

  1. Smarties
  2. Crispy Crunch, Coffee Crisp
  3. The size of our footballs fields and one less down
  4. Baseball is Canadian
  5. Lacrosse is Canadian
  6. Hockey is Canadian
  7. Basketball is Canadian
  8. Apple pie is Canadian
  9. Mr. Dress-up kicks Mr. Rogers ass
  10. Tim Hortons kicks Dunkin' Donuts ass
  11. In the war of 1812, started by America, Canadians pushed the Americans back...past their 'White House'. Then we burned it...and most of Washington, under the command of William Lyon McKenzie who was insane and hammered all the time. We got bored because they ran away, so we came home and partied...Go figure..
  12. Canada has the largest French population that never surrendered to Germany.
  13. We have the largest English population that never ever surrendered or withdrew during any war to anyone, anywhere.
  14. Our civil war was a bar fight that lasted a little over an hour.
  15. The only person who was arrested in our civil war was an American mercenary, who slept in and missed the whole thing... but showed up just in time to get caught.
  16. We knew plaid was cool far before Seattle caught on.
  17. The Hudsons Bay Company once owned over 10% of the earth's surface and is still around as the worlds oldest company.
  18. The average dog sled team can kill and devour a full grown human in under 3 minutes.
  19. We still know what to do with all the parts of a buffalo.
  20. We don't marry our kin-folk.
  21. We invented ski-doos, jet-skis, velcro, zippers, insulin, penicillin, zambonis, the telephone and short wave radios that save countless lives each year.
  22. We ALL have frozen our tongues to something metal and lived to tell about it.
  23. A Canadian invented Superman.
  24. The handles on our beer cases are big enough to fit your hands with mitts on.
Oh yeah... and our elections only take one day.

Now the above is clearly a stunt to advertise Molson's beer (see point 24 in that document if you are still in any doubt that this is really all about beer and being 'Canadian' - doesn't take a genius to work out who put this together...)

Point 21 claimed that a Canadian invented the telephone - actually, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone and he was born in Scotland which casts doubts on some of the other claims made in the above message - that said, Bell did live for a while in Canada, but was actually living in Boston, USA when he invented the telephone. Ooops! Strike 1 to Molson!

Update - information received from Kevin J. Macdonald
A quibble. You may already have received much email about this, but let me add mine:

Actually, most Canadians know that AGB was born in Scotland, but came to Canada at a relatively young age (23) to Brantford (Ontario), where his parents bought their house. He went to Boston the next year, but summered (i.e. about four months of each year) in Brantford. He was a Canadian citizen at the time by dint of 'living' in Canada and being a British subject. He retained his Canadian citizenship all his life so that he could retain his British citizenship. He resided for most of the rest of his life in Washington, DC (and was granted U.S. citizenship, although I'm not sure when--may have been posthumously).

He and Mabel are buried in Baddeck, NS (Cape Breton), where he vacationed/ summered for the rest of his life and where most of his most famous later experiments were conducted (the property is still owned and maintained by his descendents, and the associated national historic site is well worth the visit if you're ever up that way).

In September 1875, Bell wrote the patent specifications for, and refined the design of, the telephone in Brantford (Canada), although he had actually developed the first one in Boston with Watson. He also did later work with Sir William Thomson at Cambridge (England).

Canadians are proud of AGB and his accomplishments. We recognize that he was a 'world citizen' of sorts, but claim him as Canadian because:

  • he moved here from Scotland (Europe, as did most of the 'Canadians' and 'Americans' of the day);
  • he was a Canadian citizen (Brantford and Baddeck);
  • did much of the early idea development work for the telephone in London, England, then Brantford, where the actual patent specification was drawn up;
  • and is buried in Canada.
Unlike most Americans, who simply know him as 'the inventor of the telephone,' I think most Canadians know that he immigrated from the British Isles, lived and died in Canada, and only lived in the U.S. to pursue better opportunities, and work, in the field of deaf education and technologies.

His descendents are American because he married an American, his children were born there, and they are also the co-descendents of established wealthy American families (the Hubbards and Grosvenors), and so chose to remain there. AGB himself, though, was Canadian.

Mr MacDonald cites the following references:
http://www.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/newsroom/speeches/hist_invent_e.html and http://fortress.uccb.ns.ca/parks/agbchr_e.html.

My response:
OK then - I've clearly stepped on at least one toe with my comments regarding Bell. Let me respond to that.
  • I totally accept that AGB was a Canadian Citizen (at least for some of his life, although Mr McDonald's message seems to indicate the belief that this might have been in order to retain British Citizenship). I apologise that this was not clearly stated in my original statement. Yes, Bell was Canadian.
  • However, I would suggest that to single him out not as an example of a great Canadian (no quibble with that from me whatsoever - he clearly was), but rather as a specific example of why Canada is so much better than the USA because he invented the telephone is contentious to say the least. Many Americans know that (whether we Canadians like it or not) AGB was actually living in Boston when he invented the telephone, and by way of citizenship (posthumous or otherwise) the USA claims him as their own for exactly the same reason.
  • Having said that, there can be little doubt in many minds that original email I quoted from was specifically designed for the sole purpose of annoying as many Americans as possible and to stir up some element of national pride in Canadians, so i guess it's done the job quite well. Of course, my theory is that the ultimate higher purpose of the message was to sell more Canadian beer to Canadians - if anyone can disprove that particular theory I will be happy to retract that statement too!
  • I on the other hand am not here to sell beer, so I hope Mr Macdonald and my other fellow Canadians (I've lived in Toronto since 2001!) will accept my humble clarification of the points raised, and my retraction of my earlier statement: "Mind you, although it is clearly plain wrong about the telephone..."

(original clause retracted - statement continues:) ... the message doesn't actually claim that Smarties were a Canada INVENTION, just that Canada has them - it is a fact that Smarties are not sold in the USA, since there name 'Smarties' is registered to another company - see http://www.smarties.com This little piece of junk mail has caused a lot of confusion, and ever since I've had perhaps 20 people writing to me asking for the facts on this.


The Nestle Canada web site doesn't mention a date for Smarties at all in its history page.
I think that if Smarties had been invented in Canada, they might just have mentioned that fact somewhere.

Furthermore, since the currency in Canada has been decimal since 1856, I don't think that the reference to them being sold at 2d. (d. = old English pennies) can be a Canadian reference or it would be quoted in Cents.


Smarties were a British Invention.
I can't imagine that the web site of a multi-billion dollar firm like Nestle's would make that claim if it were not true, as someone would have sued by now if they just made stuff up like that for fun.

I have been asked this question about twice a month for the past year because of the message cited in Section 2.
Thanks Molson!