The origin of Smarties dates back to 1882. Rowntrees of York in the UK had been producing “Chocolate Beans” for many years, when they renamed their product to “Smarties Chocolate Beans” in 1937.
Later, they were simply rebranded as “Smarties” and it’s said that more than 50 million tubes of the treat are produced every year.
Smarties were traditionally sold in a cylindrical tube with a colourful plastic life with a letter of the alphabet on top – the reason, according to a Rowntrees spokesperson was for them to be used as an aid to guide young children to recognise various letters.
These days, some of the Smarties lids are so rare that they’re regarded as collector items.
In 2005, Smarties replaced their traditional cylindrical tube with a hexagonal design that is now lighter. Some of the earlier colours included in Smarties were a light-brown, which was replaced by the blue Smartie in 1988.
Nestlé announced that they were going to remove all artificial colourings from Smarties, following concerns from the public about chemical dyes in products aimed at children.
The company replaced synthetic dyes with natural ones but had to withdraw the blue Smartie because they couldn’t find a natural blue dye source at the time.
In 2008, the blue Smartie was reintroduced using a natural blue dye derived from the cyanobacteriumspirulina.
Production of Smarties has now moved to Germany for its European market. There’s also a production facility in Canada with Nestlé.