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Tunnock's Teacakes

Tunnock's Teacakes

Tunnock's Teacakes
© Denzil Green

Tunnock's Teacakes are not really a teacake, as in something you'd bake at home or get from a bakery. They are more of a cookie or biscuit.

The bottom is a shortbread biscuit topped with a glossy, thick, soft, foamy, marshmallow-like mound. It does not have a layer of jam in it, unlike some similar products.

The mallow is a mixture of egg white and syrup. A machine pipes a mound of it onto the biscuit base, then smooths it to make it rounded.

The whole biscuit is coated in a thin layer of chocolate. If the coating is milk chocolate, it is sold wrapped in red and silver foil. If it is coated in plain dark chocolate, it is wrapped in blue and gold.

The candy is made in Uddingston, Lanarkshire, Scotland by Thomas Tunnock Limited, 7 miles (11 km) south-east of Glasgow.

Tunnock's Teacakes, Mallomar Cookies, Whippet Cookies, Moonpies and Krembos are quite similar. Whippets are the longest-made of these.

History Notes

The core products that Tunnock is now known for really weren't introduced until the 1950s.

The company was started by Thomas Tunnock in 1890. His father had been a cabinet and coffin maker, but Thomas wanted to try his hand at running a bakery.

In 1890, Thomas bought out an existing baker on Bellshill Road in Uddingston, Scotland, for 80 pounds [1]. The bakery had been selling cakes, rolls and pies. The company has been family run since that time.

He married three years later in 1893.

Thomas added to the bakery a tearoom next door and began catering services for school kids and gospel bands.

Thomas's son Archie Tunnock (born 1895) took the business over in 1920. Archie liked cars, and during the First World War he was posted in the Middle East, looking after vehicles. He felt he would get into the motor car business upon his return to Scotland. But when Archie got home from the war in 1920, Thomas had died, and the bakery even closed for 6 months. Archie felt as though he should carry on the family business, and re-opened the bakery.

In 1921, during the Miner's Strike, Tunnock catered meals (paid for with government grants) for school children, to ensure that however poorly off the families were during the strike, the children still got three meals a day.

In the 1930s, Archie started to develop a catering service based on the experience they had gained from this, but that business ended with the start of the Second World War. The bakery spent the war doing their basic baked goods.

After the war, in 1947, the business erected a new factory 100 yards (90 metres) away on 34 Old Mill Road, and subsequently underwent a big expansion in the 1950s, when its caramel wafers were introduced.

The teacake was created in 1960. [2] The first Tunnock's Teacakes made were hand-piped by Archie Tunnock himself, who then trained workers working on a conveyor belt. Three million teacakes are now produced each week (as of 2005.) [3]

The current manager of Tunnock (as of 2009) is Archie's son Boyd Tunnock (born 25 January 1933), age 76. He is the third generation of Tunnocks to run the business, having taken over in 1981. Boyd received a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 2004.

The company still operates a store-front bakery as well as the large factory. The bakery still makes mutton pies, morning rolls and cakes for the locals. The bakery window has displays of figures made from their candy products: wildlife such as owls and deer, cyclists, etc (the display is always changing.) It also operates tearooms on the other side of the street.

Two of Boyd's three daughters, plus one son-in-law, are involved in the business as well (as of 2009.)

Literature & Lore

"EG: Tunnock’s is not renowned for its innovation – why is that?

Boyd Tunnock: We see the caramel wafer and our teacakes as being fixed points in a changing world, among the few non-negotiables in the packed lunch of existence. The distinctive wrappings – cartoonish art nouveau design with a rosy-cheeked boy on the front - are still the same when they were originated back in 1956. We’ve had lots of consultant folk come along and say we should update it, but our view is that you should never change a winning team. And our wrappers have a great affection amongst consumers, something that has been handed down thru the generations." -- The BIG interview. Boyd Tunnock. Enterprising News. Glasgow, Scotland. Straightline Publishing. September 2009.

In 2009, Scottish author Craig McGill wrote a poem dedicated to Tunnock's Snowballs, in thanks for the large donation that Tunnock's made to support the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum that would open in 2010:

"Wee, mallow, rounded, choccy biccy,
O, what a panic's in my tummy!
One needs tae eat ye hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin oot of thee,
An hae to eat a tattie."


[1] Retrieved from http://www.tunnock.co.uk/about.htm November 2009.

[2] "But the businessman - who created the Tunnocks teacake in 1960 after returning from a life in the armed services, where he climbed the ranks to cook sergeant - claimed he was no different to anyone else." -- BCC News. Biscuit king honoured by Queen: Teacake king Boyd Tunnock has been made a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list. 12 June 2004.

[3] Lawrence, Sue. Life is sweet. Edinburgh, Scotland: The Scotsman. 12 June 2005.

Flood, Alison. Burns night: McGill's teacake ode takes on the offal alternative. Manchester: The Guardian. 23 January 2009.

Murray-Watson, Andrew. Why Boyd is happy success is wafer-thin. Edinburgh, Scotland: The Scotsman. 4 January 2001.

Ode to a Tunnock's teacake. STV News. 23 January 2009. Retrived November 2009 from http://news.stv.tv/scotland/71771-ode-to-a-tunnocks-teacake/

See also:


Abernethy Biscuits; Anzac Biscuits; Bake Cookies Day; Berger Cookies; Biscuits; Brittany Butter Cookies; Children's Rusks; Chocolate Wafers; Chorley Cake; Cookie Cutters; Cookie Pistol; Cookie Sheet; Cookies; Digestive Biscuit Crumbs; Digestive Biscuits; Drop Cookies; Dunking; Flødeboller; Forfeit Cookies; Fortune Cookies; Frappe (Biscuits); Galletas Marías; Garibaldi Biscuits; Gaufrettes; Gingerbread; Girl Guide Cookies; Girl Scout Cookies; Goosnargh Cake; Graham Wafers; Iced Zoo Biscuits; Jaffa Cakes; Jammie Dodgers; Kimberley Biscuits; Krembo; Ladyfingers; Lebkuchen; Madelines; Mallomar Cookies; Moonpies; Mostaccioli Cookies; Oreo Cookies; Pasticci; Peek Freans; Pim's Biscuits; Pizzelle; Refrigerator Cookies; Rolled Cookies; Rosettes; S'mores; Sad Cake; Speculaas Cookies; Spritz Cookies; Tunnock's Snowballs; Tunnock's Teacakes; Vanilla Wafers; Wagon Wheels; Whippet Cookies; Yatsuhashi

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Oulton, Randal. "Tunnock's Teacakes." CooksInfo.com. Published 06 July 2009; revised 12 March 2010. Web. Accessed 06/19/2018. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/tunnocks-teacakes>.

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