When I worked in advertising , Allen’s Sweets was among my clients. In the late 1970s, I developed a television commercial for Kool Mints, with the line “Mouths were made for Kool Mints”. The commercial showed a lot of mouths doing what mouths do – smiling, pouting, speaking, kissing and having Kool Mints popped into them. An unexpected and very unwelcome response to the commercial came when a white supremacist in Western Australia took exception to a shot showing a black man and a white woman kissing. The client received death threats and threats against his family.
Although by that time the brand was owned by Allen’s, the crispy-coated, chewy peppermints were originally made by the Melbourne company Griffiths Sweets. Griffiths Sweet company was created in the early 1930s but was built on a 50-year history of Griffiths chocolate. A 1937 article in The Age on the manufacture of confectionery in Australia had this to say about the company:
Amongst other notable developments in the industry in recent years has been the rapid progress made by the company known as Griffiths Sweets Pty. Ltd. in the production of confectionery. The name of Griffiths had been associated with the manufacture of chocolate for fifty years or so when the firm of Griffith Bros. some years ago contemplated reconstruction, and a new company, Griffiths Sweets pty. Ltd. was formed to purchase the chocolate and confectionery business of the old firm as a going concern. The new company began operation on 1st June 1932, with Messrs. H. Henderson and H. Hunt joint managing directors, and although founded in the depth of the depression the business has made uninterrupted progress, and now holds a high place in the confectionery industry.
It’s not clear what the product range of the new company included, but many elaborate Griffiths Sweets tins still crop up on auction sites. There were certainly toffees and, most likely, boiled sweets of various kinds. The company also produced Black Crow cough drops. We don’t know for certain when Kool Mints joined the range, although a 1986 article in the Sydney Morning Herald quoted the Kool Mints product manager as saying that they first hit the shelves around 1939.
Griffiths Sweets was acquired by A. W. Allen in 1965. As a result, Kool Mints and the spin-off, Kool Fruits, were marketed under the Allen’s brand, and the Griffiths name was phased out.
From 1969, the sweets were among the products advertised on the famous Allen’s neon sign above the factory on the south bank of the Yarra River. The factory and the sign were demolished in 1987. Allen’s itself was sold to Rothmans in 1985 and two years later was acquired by Nestlé.