I’m feeling nostalgic today, as I just read that United Biscuits is celebrating 100 years at its Jacob’s factory in Aintree, Merseyside.
I was a schoolboy when I visited this factory in the 1980s, and I remember walking around the factory floor with my classmates soaking up the noise of the machinery as it created all sorts of colourful snacks. It was as close to being in Willy Wonka’s factory we would ever get, and it felt amazing.
The site was the first Jacob’s factory in England, built as the Jacob’s brand expanded on its Irish roots, and remains the primary producer of Jacob’s products in the UK, including Cream Crackers and Twiglets.
Yes, it’s the home of the Cream Cracker, but it’s also integral to the development and expansion of many Jacob’s products, including the Biscuits For Cheese selections and Oddities.
However, I don’t remember seeing crackers. I remember marshmallow, which we were allowed to taste straight off the line. It hadn’t dried and toughened yet, so was smooth and easy to lick straight off the biscuit. What a day!
What I didn’t know at the time was how long the site had been producing food, so to read that it opened in 1914 just blows my mind. It’s not just a product of my own childhood, it’s a product of many childhoods, and I can only imagine all of the happy, young faces that have passed through its gates over the years.
“Our Aintree factory has played a crucial role in the success of Jacob’s, and the broader business of United Biscuits,” said Kevin McGurk, group supply chain director at United Biscuits. “It is the home of Jacob’s, and with around half of all British households buying Jacob’s crackers, it has national as well as local significance.
“As a local manufacturer, we think it’s important to give something back to the community, which is why we play an active role with local primary and secondary schools and support the Aintree Fair Share scheme.”
It’s great that a new generation of schoolchildren is able to enjoy what I enjoyed when I was a nipper. I left with a small, yellow tin full of Club and United biscuits. I wonder what they leave with these days?