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Wine gums (or winegums) are chewy, firm pastille-type sweets similar to gumdrops without the sugar coating. While generally manufactured from gelatin, at least one winegum brand, Swedish Fish, contains no gelatin; all have their own mixes containing various sweeteners, flavourings, and colourings. Wine gums are popular in Ireland, the United Kingdom, many Commonwealth nations, and several northern, middle European countries, and Kuwait. Common brands include Maynards, Bassett's, and Waterbridge.
The gums usually come in five shapes: kidney, crown, diamond, circle and rectangle, and are labelled with six names: port, sherry, champagne, burgundy, gin and claret.
Charles Riley Maynard started his business in 1880 by producing confections in a kitchen with his brother Tom, while his wife Sarah Ann, served the customers. Maynard's sweets grew steadily and was launched as a company in 1896. Maynard's Wine Gums were introduced in 1909 by Maynard's son Charles Gordon Maynard. Charles Riley Maynard nearly fired his son on the spot when the junior Maynard came up with the recipe for Maynard's Wine Gums. It took Charles Gordon Maynard some time to persuade his strict Methodist and teetotaller father that the sweets did not contain wine.
According to Cadbury, red and black are the most popular colours. The red flavours are traditionally red berry, strawberry, or raspberry-flavoured in the United Kingdom and cherry in the United States. Black is traditionally blackcurrant flavoured. Limited edition dark-only wine gum issues have occurred, and more recently, a limited "fruit duos" edition was produced with two colours and flavours on each half of the gum.
There are two apocryphal stories about the origin of the name.
One is that after hearing a fiery temperance sermon, Maynard the younger decided to market his sweets as an aid to cutting down one's alcohol consumption. Therefore, he called them "wine gums", and labelled them with wine names.
The other story is that Maynard the younger wished to market his sweets as being so good that they should be appreciated like a fine wine. Therefore he called them "wine gums" and labelled them with wine names.
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