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A Festival for Licorice

Submitted by on April 24, 2012 – 12:26 amNo Comment

There’s a Liquorice Festival in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, England (map), on July 8, 2012.

Call it licorice or liquorice, it’s still an unusual plant that’s used in this district to make its famous and distinctive sweets.

There will be lots of liquorice food and drink to sample and, for those that like history and heritage, talks on the history of liquorice. Of course, there’ll also be more food and family activities. Craft and gift stalls will offer products from around the region.

According to the organizers, Pontefract is rightly proud to celebrate its association with this famous plant from the Middle East. It may have been brought to Pontefract from the Crusades by a member of the De Lacy family who built Pontefract Castle or perhaps by the Benedictine monks that came to the town in 1090.

However it arrived, its initial importance was as a medicine whose benefits had been known for thousands of years. It is only in the last few hundred years that it was turned into a sweet and it was the famous Pomfet (Pontefract Cake) or Yorkshire Penny that marked the cross over from medicine to sweet.

By 1885, there were 10 companies producing liquorice sweets in Pontefract. The most famous of these: Wilkinsons (now part of Tangerine Confectionery) is still producing millions of Pontefract Cakes, each stamped with a seal representing the history and legend of Pontefract.

(Photo courtesy of Pontefract Liquorice Festival)

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