|This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2013)|
Bendicks is a chocolate brand of Storck UK Ltd. The German confectionery manufacturer was founded in 1930. In 2009, Bendicks (Mayfair) Ltd. changed its name to Storck UK Ltd., keeping Bendicks as a brand name for its chocolate products.
In 1930 Oscar Benson and Colonel 'Bertie' Dickson purchased a small confectionery business at 164 Church street in Kensington, London, with the chocolates made in a tiny basement below the shop. They used the first syllable of each of their surnames to come up with the name Bendicks.
In 1931 Benson's sister-in-law, Lucia Benson, came up with a dark chocolate so bitter that it was virtually inedible on its own, and combined it with a mint fondant that was so strongly flavoured with mint oil that it was also difficult to eat on its own. When the two parts were combined they produced a very palatable chocolate that they named Bendicks Bittermints. The chocolate coating contains 95% cocoa solids.
By 1933, Bendicks was developing a reputation for quality and a new store was opened in the heart of London's exclusive Mayfair. Prominent among the visitors was the Duke of Kent, son of King George V, who visited for the famous Bittermints. The company soon became known as Bendicks of Mayfair.
In 1946 the business was sold to Mr. Edgar Lawley. By 1952 Bendicks had moved to a building which bridged St. Thomas Street and Little Minster Street in Winchester, Hampshire. This building, which has now been demolished and replaced by residential properties and garages, had been constructed in around 1890 and been used as The Winchester Temperance Billiards Hall. It had already acquired the business of William Cox & Son, manufacturers of Royal Winchester Chocolates (a name which has been discontinued), which had been located in St. George's Street, Winchester (now occupied by MacDonalds).
The reputation of the company and its products was further enhanced in 1962 when it was awarded the coveted Royal Warrant: "By Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen".
The confectionery products were expensive but were all made with the finest quality ingredients. The main part of the business was chocolate coated confectionery and these were all hand dipped, giving a much thicker layer of chocolate, and the availability of female 'dippers' was a constraint on the growth of the business. They also produced confectionery products such as nougat and chocolate bars. A feature of Bittermints was that they could be purchased in 9 inch, 18 inch and 36 inch boxes (by the yard).
In 1967 the business was moved to a purpose built factory in Moorside Road, Winchester. During the 1960s it had been acquired by Wood Hall Trust Ltd. (itself subsequently being acquired by Elders IXL, the Australian conglomerate, in 1982). In later years enrobing equipment was introduced allowing an increase in production.
In the 1960s the business also owned a number of retail outlets in prestigious parts of London. Two were located in Wigmore Street and Sloane Street, both of which were also restaurants. The remaining shops were located in Bond Street, Throgmorton Street and Curzon Street (the latter trading under its own name of Supex Ltd.) Many of the products sold in these shops were chocolate confectionery packed in fine china (Wedgwood, Doulton etc.) so that the remaining 'container' became a useful quality object and customers could bring in quality china containers to have filled with confectionery to be given as gifts.
In 2002, Bendicks introduced a selection box of chocolates called Mingles.
In April 2009 Storck confirmed it was shutting the factory in Winchester at the end of July and relocating production to Ohrdruff, its Eastern German plant. This resulted in a loss of more than 80 jobs although it continued to employ over 30 staff in Winchester to support marketing and sales of its brands in the UK.
Production at the Winchester plant ended on Friday July 29, 2011. Supplies of the chocolates were still available for Christmas 2011, but following the closure of the plant Bendicks announced that the Mingles line was being discontinued.