Parma Violets are a British violet-flavoured tablet confectionery manufactured by the Derbyshire company Swizzels Matlow, named after the Parma violet variety of the flower. The sweets are hard, biconcave disc-shaped sweets, similar to the Fizzers product from the same company but without their fizziness. Swizzels Matlow have also released a line of Giant Parma Violets.
The petals of violets have long been used in herbalism for their medicinal properties, even mentioned by Dioscorides. "Violet tables", a sugary lozenge flavoured with violets, was made before 1620. During the 18th century, crushed violet petals, rosewater and sugar were combined to make an early type of confectionery known as flower pastry. These could be used for flavouring a cake, or moulded into pastils and eaten as sweets. In the Edwardian era, violet-flavoured chocolate and liquor were used to relieve sickness.
Parma Violets were created in 1946 by the Derbyshire company Swizzels Matlow. They are sweets that are hard, biconcave discs, based on similar aniseed confectionery traditionally consumed in India after a spicy meal. Their flavour has been described as sweet with an incredibly soapy or floral taste. The current recipe includes sugar, stearic acid, modified starch, glucose syrup, and anthocyanin.
In 2016, Swizzels Matlow released a special Parma Violets flavoured cheese, produced by the Cheshire Cheese Company to celebrate their 70th birthday. Cocktails that replicate the flavour of the confectionery are also available in some UK bars. Also, large bags of Parma Violets can be purchased from the official website in sizes up to 3kg, alongside other online retailers.
In popular culture
- In Ian Fleming's James Bond series, hard candies very similar in description to Parma Violets are the favourite sweet of the supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld due to their breath freshening properties.
- The name of the British Indie pop band Palma Violets is derived from the Matlows confectionery. Irish singer Naomi Hamilton also released an album in 2016 named after the sweet.
- A 2005 survey reported by The Guardian revealed Parma Violets to be the least popular sweet among the Millennial generation.
- Love Hearts maker Swizzels Matlow keeps clients sweet, Teena Lyons, Times online, 25 May 2008, accessed 3 May 2009
- Swizzels Matlow: Parma Violets Ingredients
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- Ostrom, Lizzie (October 22, 2015). Perfume: A Century of Scents. Random House. ISBN 9781473506084 – via Google Books.
- Miranda Larbi for Metro.co.uk (2016-07-15). "Someone's invented Parma Violet flavoured cheese". Metro. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
- Salter, Jessica (November 19, 2011). "Dream factory: the story of a sweet company" – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
- Nozedar, Adele (September 4, 2014). Great British Sweets: And How To Make Them at Home. Random House. ISBN 9781448161218 – via Google Books.
- Britton, Karen (2016-08-01). "Love it or hate it? Retro sweets Parma Violets inspire new CHEESE". macclesfield. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
- "Someone's invented Parma Violet flavoured cheese". July 15, 2016.
- Lovell, Lucy (February 11, 2017). "Love gin? Then you'll want to go to this gin festival in Levenshulme". men.
- "Parma Violets - 3kg- Swizzels". www.swizzels.com.
- Thunderball, 1961 Edition.
- "Album | Jealous of the Birds – Parma Violets".
- "Jealous of the Birds singer-songwriter Naomi Hamilton takes flight with debut album". The Irish News.
- Wainwright, Martin (March 5, 2005). "Sweets we loathe". The Guardian – via www.theguardian.com.