The bar is a crumbly honeycomb toffee centre coated in compound chocolate. It is similar to the Crunchie made by British firm Cadbury. Its advertising slogan is "It's the way it shatters that matters", and previously was "Nothing else matters".
Aside from Australia, it is common in Hawaii and a selection of other places, such as Hong Kong and Mollie Stone's Markets in California. They can also be found in some import speciality stores such as Cost Plus World Market in the United States.
Abel Hoadley opened a jam factory in South Melbourne, Victoria, in 1889, trading as A. Hoadley & Company. By 1895, business had expanded rapidly and Hoadley built a five-storey premises, the Rising Sun Preserving Works. He produced jams, jellies, fruit preserves, candied peels, sauces, and confectionery and employed a workforce as large as 200. By 1901, there were four preserving factories and a large confectionery works. Hoadley had acquired the firm of Dillon, Burrows & Co. and extended his products to vinegar, cocoa, and chocolate. In 1910, the jam business was sold to Henry Jones Co-operative Ltd. and in 1913, Hoadley's Chocolates Ltd was formed.
The same year, Hoadley produced his first chocolate assortment and packed them in a purple box decorated with violets. The packaging was in tribute to his wife's favorite colour (purple) and favorite flower (violets). Within the box assortment was a piece of honeycomb that became so popular that Hoadley decided to produce an individual honeycomb bar.
This proved trickier than first thought, because as the pieces of honeycomb cooled, they absorbed moisture and started sticking together. This hygroscopic nature of honeycomb led Hoadley to eventually dip his bars in chocolate, to keep the honeycomb dry and crunchy. Thus, in 1913, the Violet Crumble bar was created.
Hoadley wanted to call his new bar just Crumble, but learned that it was not possible to protect the name with a trademark. He thought of his wife (Susannah Ann née Barrett) and her favourite flower, the violet, and registered the name Violet Crumble, using a purple wrapper with a small flower logo. It was an instant success. Violet Crumbles are crispier in texture than Crunchie bars, with a slightly more marshmallow taste.
Hoadley's Chocolates Ltd was acquired by English company Rowntree's in 1970, who produced Violet Crumble in Adelaide until 1985. Rowntree's was itself acquired in 1988 by Nestlé, who moved production to Campbellfield near Melbourne.
- 1913, Hoadley's Chocolates made the first Violet Crumble bar in Melbourne.
- 1972, Hoadley's Chocolates was acquired by Rowntree Company and became known as Rowntree Hoadley Ltd.
- 1989, Nestlé acquired Rowntree's. The Rowntree chocolate brands were initially branded as Nestlé-Rowntree, until Nestlé dropped the Rowntree altogether.
- 2009, Nestlé changed the shape of the Violet Crumble to a wider, flatter bar. The honeycomb formulation was also changed to make it shatter into small pieces when bitten into.
- 2010, Nestlé included Violet Crumble bags on their list of deleted products
- 2012, an attempt at regaining name and recipe rights for the Violet Crumble was made by young entrepreneur Bryan Hoadley, a descendant of Abel Hoadley.
- 2018, in January Robern Menz announced their plans to acquire the rights and equipment to take over production, and commenced production in October.
The hygroscopic nature of the honeycomb centre was problematic. Competitors tried to prove the bars weren't fresh by squeezing them. Hoadley responded by instituting a strict coding system to keep track of the shelf life (12 months) and ensure that only the freshest bars were sold. In addition, he searched worldwide for a new type of airtight wrapper that would keep the bar fresh. Eventually, a French company, La Cellophane, invented a moisture-resistant metallised cellophane especially for Violet Crumble.
The honeycomb is produced and conveyed into an air-conditioned area where it is cut into bars. Then it goes through chocolate coating machines. The bars are double-coated to seal the honeycomb from the air. Cooling tunnels take the bars to the automatic wrapping machines.
In Australian culture
- Bertie Beetles, sold at royal shows around Australia, were invented to use up broken pieces of Violet Crumble.
- The colours of the Melbourne Wesley College uniform (purple and yellow) have led to students occasionally being called, perhaps derogatorily, Violet Crumbles.
- In the novella Pobby and Dingan by Ben Rice, Kellyanne's two imaginary friends eat nothing but Violet Crumbles, Cherry Ripes and lollies.
- The basketball team Sydney Kings, whose primary colours are purple and yellow, were referred to as the "Violet Crumbles" due to their consistent underperformance in the National Basketball League during the 1990s.
- Keogh, Melissa (10 October 2018). "Robern Menz begins Violet Crumble production in SA". Brand South Australia News.
- "Nutrional info". Nestlé. Archived from the original on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
- Gibbs, Brooke (11 January 2018). "Violet Crumble back in Australian hands after Nestle deal". Sydney Morning Herald.
- "Nestlé Deleted Products" (PDF). Nestlé Deleted Products. Nestlé. p. 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-01-20. Retrieved 2013-09-25.
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