New Biscuit Manufacturers

Bells Biscuits

Bells Biscuits was not at any time a serious competitor in the biscuit industry.  I cannot remember when the business was established - probably about 1970.  It was, I think, at the time that Rhodesia was having political troubles and I believe the factory was started by the Lobel family who had the main biscuit interests in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia).  They later started a factory in Maritzburg (which I visited).

They seemed to make only two types of biscuits.   One being a large round biscuit, probably selling for 1c or 3c each, and the other was made in small packets of a common biscuit - say 4 biscuits to a packet and could be sold for 3c or 6c.

Bells eventually sold their operation to Simba Chips, who moved the factory onto their premises at Isando and started to broaden the range a bit.

I visited Simba several times in an endeavour to persuade them to join the Biscuit Association but they could not see any special benefit in doing so.  In any event they did not wish to be tied down by understandings or agreements that the other manufacturers held amongst themselves.  Their business did not really expand and they remained a small player.   Finally they sold in about 1985 to a Cape Town company who were involved with Royal Baking Powder and who had established some sort of ties with National Biscuit Company of America, permitting the manufacture of one or two of their lines in South Africa, in particular “Chips Ahoy”, a chocolate chip cookie, and “Oreo”, a dark, round biscuit sandwiched with a white cream.

It may be of interest to note that in America the term ‘biscuit’ denotes scones.  Americans refer to our true biscuits by two names - ‘cookies’ (which refers to cream biscuits and other plain biscuits) - and ‘crackers’.  The biggest selling cracker line was Nabisco’s Ritz Crackers.

The new company continued quietly and did not seem to experience any major growth.