Hard Candy Showdown: Simpkins vs. Cavendish and Harvey

Simpkins and Cavendish & Harvey are likely two of the most recognizable names in the hard candy world. Their small, hockey puck-style tins, with dark backgrounds and colorful images of candy-flavoring ingredients, quickly grab the eye. If you like hard candy, you likely at least had an image pop up in your mind, even if you’ve never had a taste.

But being on top of the world and being recognizable can be somewhat complicated when you share so many similarities with others. And Simpkins and Cavendish & Harvey share a lot of similarities.

So let’s break down where each of them comes from, how they are similar, where they differ, and, most importantly, if it’s worth checking the name on that colorful candy tin at all before you grab one.

What is Simpkins Candy?

Simpkins candy, or, to be more exact, A.L.Simpkin & Co. Ltd., is a British confectionery manufacturer. The company proudly boasts the title of the original manufacturer of Travel Sweet Tins. Do you know those round metallic boxes filled with sweet hard candy? Apparently, Al Simpkin, the inventor of Simpkins candy, was one of the first to coin the look.

But first, let’s rewind to 1921.

Albert Leslie Simpkin came back from fighting World War I with a plan. He’d make the best candy drops ever. He’d only use natural flavor and coloring and would not compromise quality for a price. Albert Simpkin would make good candy

It took him a few years to truly see the fruits of his labor, but the work paid off: Simpkins candy officially hit the shelves in 1921. And not just any shelves, oh no. Simpkins candy wasn’t sold at any old corner store. Simpkins candy was sold exclusively at pharmacies.

This turned out to be a stroke of genius on Albert’s part. Firstly, aiming at pharmacies instead of stores, he avoided direct competition with already established candy manufacturers. Instead, he targeted a small niche clientele: those who were actually trying to avoid the usual sugary concoctions and looking for healthier alternatives. In another three years, by 1924, Simpkins candy had 80% coverage throughout the UK.

But the real stroke of genius wasn’t the candy itself. The real stroke of genius was packaging: small tin pucks that were easy to carry around with you and kept the candy fresh for a relatively long time. 

Now, candy tins have been around since at least the mid-19th century. But they tended to be rather large and aimed and keeping the candies for a long time. Al Simpkin’s portable candy tins were comfortable to carry around without having to worry about anything spilling out. It was not a choice made for comfort but for practicality. The 1920s version of the can could keep candy out of your things but couldn’t keep the candy itself fresh much longer than other packages. 

The original Traveler’s Tin was a seamed can and wasn’t completely airtight. And since Simpkins candy had a high fruit juice content, they became sticky if exposed to oxygen for too long. Only with the switch to no seem cans in the 1950s did the can become as helpful a container as it is today: able to keep candy fresh for years.

Oh, and apparently, they’re not called Traveler’s Tins because they’re easy to travel with (that’s one illusion forever broken for me). It’s called Traveler’s Tins because the original flavor of Simpkins candy was Barley Sugar Drops, and they alleviated traveling sickness. 

In the 1940s, the Simpkins started exporting their candy and quickly established selling points at pharmacies and areas rife with travelers.

Today, Simpkins candy is easily one of the most recognizable candies in the world, with its dark tins with colorful images. There’s just one teensy problem: they often get mixed up with Cavendish and Harvey candy by those who know little about them.

What is Cavendish and Harvey Candy?

Cavendish and Harvey candy is a bit of a complicated case. Technically, the company itself isn’t much younger than Simpkins; it was established in 1932. But what they’re renowned in the world for - their English confectionery line - wasn’t added to the company portfolio until 1959, and the company didn’t adopt the brand name Cavendish & Harvey Ltd. until 1977.

So was it in 1932 the company was born or in 1977? If we say it’s the latter, then Cavendish and Harvey candy is practically a baby compared to the Simpkins candy. On the other hand, by the time they started their English candy line and established themselves and Cavendish & Harvey, the company already had a sizeable experience in the confectionery business. 

And Cavendish & Harvey itself isn’t making things easier to understand. They seem to be keen on maintaining 1932 as the birth year of the company, having celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2007. But then they celebrated the brand’s 40th anniversary in 2017. So are they old, or are they still young? You decide. 

What is clear is that in the 45 years since the brand was created, it established itself as one of the premier hard candy manufacturers. Over 80% of Cavendish and Harvey candy produced in Germany is exported to other countries each year. The candy is exported to more than 80 countries in Asia, Europe, the Americas, Australia, and Africa.

Which Has More Options?

Now, if you’re looking for a wide selection of flavors, then Simpkins candy is the one to check out first. Right now, there are up to 50 flavors in the Simpkins collection, from their most well-known classic Barley drops to more traditional mint, mixed fruit, and berries to unique flavors like rose, strawberry cream, and mulled wine. 

Cavendish & Harvey, in comparison, can only boast about 30 individual flavors, though their collection looks more extensive with the addition of the sugar-free section and pocket tins collection.

Cavendish & Harvey also offers a collection of “pocket tins”: a selection of smaller tins, about a third in size, compared to their classic packaging, for their most famous flavors. If you’re unsure about liking the candy, the pocket tins could be an excellent place to start.

Overall, both Simpkins and Cavendish & Harvey offer quite a vast selection of flavors, but the years do give Simpkins more advantage.

Which Has More Unique Flavors?

Both Simpkins and Cavendish & Harvey offer a few unique flavor choices. Simpkins Barley drops are already plenty special, but they also have a “Botanical collection” with a focus on more herby and floral flavors. They also have a few other interesting combinations like Caramel-Mint (Caramint), Strawberry and Cream, Rhubarb and Custard, and Citrus-Sour Cherry.

Cavendish & Harvey, on the other hand, offer more exciting fruit flavor combinations you’re not likely to find anywhere else. Pear-Blackberry, Blackcurrant-Apple, and Cherry-Lime are just a few of the options.

Which is Better?

Both Simpkins candy and Cavendish and Harvey are a credit to their field. I know, I know, nobody likes the “both are good” answer to a clear-cut question, but both of these companies have established and maintained themselves for as long as they have because they keep the customers happy. And they keep the customers happy because they produce high-quality, tasty candy that is easy to travel with.

So let’s break down the pros each company has going for it, and you decide which collection you’d like to explore first.

- The Packaging

Classic tins: Here, the two are equals. Both Simpkins and Cavendish & Harvey hard candy drops are kept in small, round tin jars that protect the candy, keeping it fresh for a long time and protecting the surrounding environment from the candy itself. You don’t have to worry about either tin suddenly opening up in the bag, spilling sticky sweets everywhere. 

Non-standard sizes: If size matters, then maybe explore options with Cavendish & Harvey first since they offer a small selection of “pocket tins”: basically the same as classic travel tins, but about a third of it in size. Smaller tin could be a good “test drive.”

On the other hand, if you’re looking for larger packages (maybe as a gift or as a pantry-filler?), then Cavendish & Harvey is, once again, the option worth exploring more. They have a Gift Jar series, with some of their most popular candy flavors packaged in glass jars instead of travel tins. These jars range from 10.5 oz all the way to 34 oz in size.

- The History

In this, Simpkins candy has Cavendish & Harvey beaten, no matter how we cut it. A.L.Simpkin & Co. Ltd. is the oldest manufacturer of travel tin hard candy still on the market. If age is something you pay attention to, then the Simpkins candy selection might be the one you’d like to explore first.

- The Flavors

Both of these companies offer their clientele some of the best hard candy drops that can be found on the current market. So the question is not which of them produces better candy (they’re both as good as can be), but what kind of flavors do you prefer for your hard candy? 

If you like fruity flavors, then Cavendish & Harvey are the ones to pay attention to. They have an excellent selection of classic flavors like Mint, Coffee, Cola, Butterscotch, and even filled caramel drops, but their true strength lies in fruit-flavored candy. Between traditional clean flavors like sour cherry, lemon, and apples, unique flavor combinations you’re unlike to find with 

- The Decorative Aspect

If you want to reuse the tins after you’re done with the candy, you may want to pay attention to what Simpkins has to offer. While their regular candy tins are similar to Cavendish & Harvey tins (dark background, candy-flavoring ingredients displayed in bright colors), they also have “special collection” tins that are keener on aesthetics. “Botanical collection,” for example, is soft mint, decorated with flowers, and has a more “aesthetic” script used on the label. There are also “Retro Travel Tins” decorated with old-school pin-up images, tins decorated with the British flag, and even the more ascetic tins with no images at all (like Mulled Wine candy) that can work as a multi-use container.

- The Price

Comparing the price between the two is a little bit tricky, mainly because Simpkins’ special Botanical Collection is priced differently. It sits at a higher price point than their regular tins do, with some of the collection at almost twice the price, though the tins are the same (and sometimes more petite in size). So if you want to give their Melon-Ginger, Fennel, or Strawberry and Crushed Black Pepper candy a try, you should budget your funds accordingly. These candies are worth their price, but they aren’t cheap.

On the other hand, the regular candy tins are priced similarly, with both Simpkins and Cavendish & Harvey sitting around $3.5-$4. It bears repeating that their classic collections include plenty of unique flavors, so you could start small and go from there if you’ve yet to try either one.

Visit Yummy Bazaar’s Online Candy Store for the Best Classic and Novel Candies:

Yummy Bazaar’s online candy store is the home to one of the largest gourmet candy collections! With a wide variety of options from all over the world, carefully curated to fit the tastes of even the pickiest candy lovers, our store is bound to provide at least a few options to brighten up your days. Explore the hard candy selections for traditional flavors that have earned a badge of respected classics. Or explore the chocolate collection for a wide variety of truffles, bonbons, and bars (maybe spare a thought or two for more unique flavors to add a novel touch!). And, of course, you’ll find a vast assortment of gift boxes and shiny embossed tins with gourmet-grade candies if you wish to find a memorable gift for a loved one with a sweet tooth! Just stock the cart with the candies that catch your eye, and we’ll take it from there, ensuring it’s safely delivered to your doorstep ASAP!

Image sources: Simpkins and Cavendish & Harvey images taken from their official Facebook pages.

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