The history behind Tunnocks

Thomas Tunnock Ltd biscuit factory Uddingston -  Sheet of wafer biscuit comes off machine.
Thomas Tunnock Ltd biscuit factory Uddingston - Sheet of wafer biscuit comes off machine.
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Managing to move with the times while retaining their signature taste, the Tunnock’s range of cakes and biscuits is an enduring Scottish treat.

It’s a range of chocolate-covered sweets and biscuits that mean much more to Scots than just caramel, coconut and chocolate.

Whether it’s the Tea Cake, Caramel Wafer, Caramel Log or the Snowball, the Tunnocks brand has been a mainstay in the mouths of Scottish and international consumers, with the treats exported to 40 countries as far afield as Canada, Australia and Iraq.

Nowadays, the company makes upwards of 75 tons of caramel per week with an end product of 10-12 million cakes and biscuits being produced in the same timeframe.

The story began on Uddingston’s Lorne Place, where company founder Thomas Tunnock set up his first bakery in 1890.

From here, the Tunnocks name and reputation began to spread throughout Glasgow for their bakery, tea room and travelling catering vans which could be rented for special occasions.

Thomas Tunnock Ltd Biscuit Factory Uddingston - Mr A Tunnock and Mr T Tunnock

Thomas Tunnock Ltd Biscuit Factory Uddingston - Mr A Tunnock and Mr T Tunnock

As the business developed and the problems of baking fresh bread routinely began to become more apparent, the 1950s saw the biggest changes for the company, with 1952 the birth year of the Caramel Wafer.

The Snowball followed two years later, using meringue for its soft filling, before the Caramel Log and Teacake arrived in 1955 and 1956.

Boyd Tunnock MBE was the inventer of the Teacake and now, aged 80, he’s still at the head of a Scotland-based company which has resisted several buy-out attempts and offers to make cakes for supermarkets.

The company’s long-lived success has been put down to their simple product range and resplendent packaging, which has changed little in the last 60 years.

Thomas Tunnock Ltd biscuit factory in Uddingston - Caramel is poured out of bubbling cauldron

Thomas Tunnock Ltd biscuit factory in Uddingston - Caramel is poured out of bubbling cauldron

Coldplay’s Chris Martin is just one of the celebrities who has revealed his love of the products, stating that: “You can’t choose between the Caramel Wafer and the Tea Cake – they’re like Lennon and McCartney, you can’t separate them.”

Such is the popularity of Tunnock’s in modern-day Scotland that even the nation’s politicians favour them. Alex Salmond once reportedly offered media mogul Rupert Murdoch a Caramel Wafer during a visit to Bute House, while First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is said to have commissioned Tunnock’s to create her wedding day cake.

In recent years, the Tunnock’s brand has been commemorated and celebrated by an art exhibition in Glasgow in 2010, as well as a starring role in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014 opening ceremony.

Earlier this month, Boyd Tunnock bought RNLI St Abbs a new lifeboat and medical supplies worth £250,000 after the station faced closure.

Thomas Tunnocks Ltd Biscuit Factory Uddingston - Mr R Mosley bakes cake for childrens picnics

Thomas Tunnocks Ltd Biscuit Factory Uddingston - Mr R Mosley bakes cake for childrens picnics

Thomas Tunnock Ltd biscuit factory Uddingston - Sugar figures for decoration on childrens birthday cakes

Thomas Tunnock Ltd biscuit factory Uddingston - Sugar figures for decoration on childrens birthday cakes

Thomas Tunnocks Ltd biscuit factory Uddingston - Chocolate wafers fed into wrapping machine

Thomas Tunnocks Ltd biscuit factory Uddingston - Chocolate wafers fed into wrapping machine

Workwers pack teacakes at the Tunnocks factory at Uddingston, Lanarkshire. in 2005.

Workwers pack teacakes at the Tunnocks factory at Uddingston, Lanarkshire. in 2005.

A favourite biscuit from the brand.

A favourite biscuit from the brand.

Tunnock vans have been preserved across the country. Photo: Alan Murray

Tunnock vans have been preserved across the country. Photo: Alan Murray

Miniture Tunnocks Tea Cakes. Dolls house maker Sheena Hinks is making a small fortune thanks to their miniature Tunnocks Tea Cakes. Fans from all over the UK and as far away as the US and Australia snap up hundreds of the tiny trinkets every year.

Miniture Tunnocks Tea Cakes. Dolls house maker Sheena Hinks is making a small fortune thanks to their miniature Tunnocks Tea Cakes. Fans from all over the UK and as far away as the US and Australia snap up hundreds of the tiny trinkets every year.