Tunnock’s – A chocolate Scottish institution

Tunnock, the iconic Scottish, family-owned chocolate company is headed by Boyd Tunnock CBE, the founder’s grandson, who celebrated his 80th birthday in 2012. The company was established in 1890 by Thomas Tunnock and still produces the iconic snowballs, caramel wafers, caramel logs and Tunnock’s teacakes famous all over Scotland and the world. With it’s perfect combination of nostalgia and chocolate, this instantly recognisable and increasingly popular Scottish brand is seeing record sales. Boyd Tunnock is quite a character regarded fondly by some as a present day Willy Wonka. Some of the staff have worked at the factory for 30 years.

 

Mr Boyd Tunnock, grandson of the founder of the company. - aged 80, in his office, with an image of his father above him.

Mr Boyd Tunnock, grandson of the founder of the company. – aged 80, in his office, with an image of his father, Archie Tunnock, above him, Uddingston, Scotland, March 2013
© Sophie Gerrard 2013 all rights reserved.

 

Tunnock's Caramel Wafer - with arabic writing ready for export

Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer – with arabic writing ready for export, Uddingston, Scotland, March 2013.
© Sophie Gerrard 2013 all rights reserved.

 

Mr Boyd Tunnock's tea is prepared just how he likes it.

Mr Boyd Tunnock’s tea is prepared just how he likes it., Tunnock’s factory, Uddingston, Scotland, March 2013.
© Sophie Gerrard 2013 all rights reserved.

 

Interview with Mr Boyd Tunnock, March 2013

“This is my Hornby Dublo – my train set. There’s nothing I like better than watching these biscuits go round and round, 600 a minute. At Tunnock’s we’ve been lucky – in that we’ve been making things that people want to buy.

I walk around the factory floor every morning, I kind of nibble you know, a wee bite of this, a wee bite of that, taste the cream, you know, if I’m going past the caramel, I always taste the caramel.

There’s no secret, there’s a trick maybe, the trick is to get everything right.”

The Tunnock's snowball line

The Tunnock’s snowball line, Tunnock’s factory, Uddingston, Scotland, March 2013.
© Sophie Gerrard 2013 all rights reserved.

 

Tunnock's snowballs boxed in the factory

Tunnock’s snowballs boxed in the factory, Tunnock’s factory, Uddingston, Scotland, March 2013.
© Sophie Gerrard 2013 all rights reserved.

 

The Tunnock's factory in Uddingston

The Tunnock’s factory in Uddingston, March 2013
© Sophie Gerrard 2013 all rights reserved.

 

“I originated the teacake, but the caramel wafer is probe my favorite because we make more money off it. The design we’ve got to this day in caramel wafers was not originated till 1955. It works so we haven’t really changed since, you know, way back.

My father never really said sit down and I’ll tell you about it because he was too busy looking ahead. He died when he was 86, when he was about my age he said the only thing I’m short of now is time, and he was right. During the wars he was the biggest private caterer in the Glasgow area. I’m just an amateur compared to him.

You keep trying various things, I’ve got a new idea of a biscuit, I’ve only made handmade samples so far, it’s a kind of nougat wafer biscuit. It’s a tricky thing to make.”

 

Mr Boyd Tunnock holding his notebook which contains, amoungst recipes and notes, a circle marking the perfect size of a Tunnock's teacake.

High standards. Mr Boyd Tunnock holding his notebook which contains, amoungst recipes and notes, a circle marking the perfect size of a Tunnock’s teacake biscuit, Tunnock’s factory, Uddingston, Scotland, March 2013.
© Sophie Gerrard 2013 all rights reserved.

 

Tunnock's Caramel Wafers in the Tunnock's factory in Uddingston

The unmistakable gold and red design of Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers, Tunnock’s factory, Uddingston, Scotland, March 2013.
© Sophie Gerrard 2013 all rights reserved.

 

The Tunnock's Caramel Wafer production line

One for you, one for me…. quality control on the Caramel Wafer line, Tunnock’s factory, Uddingston, Scotland, March 2013.
© Sophie Gerrard 2013 all rights reserved.

 

“We use an Italian meringue, for that perfect texture, but well, you can’t photograph any further than here I’m afraid, I can’t let you into that area.

The last 3 mornings I’ve been in about ten past 6, then I go home about half past 7 for a cup of tea, read the Herald, then about 8 o’clock then I’m out on the factory. When I go out around the factory then I’ll say to them, if you work for me you’ve got to smile. I do that you know, and they laugh. Most of the time it’s alright, you know, I’m reasonably easy to get on with. As long as you do it right.”

 

The Tunnock's Teacake production line

One for you, one for me…. quality control on the Teacake line, Tunnock’s factory, Uddingston, Scotland, March 2013.
© Sophie Gerrard 2013 all rights reserved.

The Tunnock's Teacake production line

The Tunnock’s Teacake production line, Tunnock’s factory, Uddingston, Scotland, March 2013
© Sophie Gerrard 2013 all rights reserved.

“You don’t change a winning team, it just keeps you going all the time. It comes from the top and radiates down. What happens on the factory, if everything’s right pat me on the back and if something’s wrong then kick me in the bum because I haven’t got it right, I haven’t told somebody something.

I’ve got an engineer Bob, he’s been with me 48 years. He gave me this framed poem which goes something like this…

Life’s too short for greetin, there’s things you cannae mend, so leave them be and start again the world’s no gonna end. You’ve time to plan so many things, it all depends on you, so shake yourself you wackaloon, get up and do it noo.

I think that’s it really, don’t sit still, get up and do it, try it. That’s the whole thing, business is easy, but you’ve got to be very careful. Don’t get complacent, you got to keep thinking, and keep striving for perfection, you’ll never get it but keep striving for it.”

 

Liz Cook has worked at Tunnocks for 25 years. "You have your good days and your bad days like any place but it's a good place to work, especially for Mr Boyd, he's well loved in here. I came here before I finished school. My dad was one of the first van d

Liz Cook has worked at Tunnocks for 25 years. “You have your good days and your bad days like any place but it’s a good place to work, especially for Mr Boyd, he’s well loved in here. I came here before I finished school. My dad was one of the first van drivers. Tunnock’s factory, Uddingston, Scotland, March 2013
© Sophie Gerrard 2013 all rights reserved.

 

Boys on the Tunnock's Caramel Wafer production line

Boys working on the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer production line, Tunnock’s factory, Uddingston, Scotland, March 2013
© Sophie Gerrard 2013 all rights reserved.

 

The Tunnock's factory in Uddingston

The Tunnock’s factory in Uddingston Tunnock’s factory, Uddingston, Scotland, March 2013
© Sophie Gerrard 2013 all rights reserved.

 

 

This body of work was originally commissioned by The Telegraph Magazine and was accompanied with words by Richard Preston, see the full piece and the great on-line design and layout here.

 

 

 

Did you like this? Share it: