Origin of Names and Packs


Before decimalisation of currency, there was a coin, sixpence, that later converted to five cents.  It was popularly known as a “tanner”.

I was looking for ways and means of producing a packet that would sell for sixpence, hoping this would appeal to buyers in the poorer, rural districts.  I first of all asked our production people to wrap me a few “Marie” biscuits, equivalent to the quantity that could be sold for sixpence, but it was a very short, stubby pack.

It was apparent therefore, in order to get a longer pack, I would have to reduce the diameter somewhat and I chose a biscuit cutter that had ridges on the surface.  This would help to space the biscuits apart and make the pack look longer.

At first the biscuits were made on the 26" Vicars machine (originally bought from Whyte's bakery). Later, on a visit to the packaging exhibition in Dusseldorf, Germany, I found a new biscuit machine had been developed known as a Flopak, which used a new method of packaging.  The biscuits flowed through on edge into a tube of cellophane, which was crimped and cut between successive packages.  This ran at high speed – about 150 packs per minute – and was not only a saving in paper costs, but in labour costs.  The crimped flap at each end made the packet look a little longer.

The production people produced quite a nice eating plain biscuit and I gave the product the name “Tanner”, which indicated its price.

In those days there was very little inflation and the price would probably be held for four or five years.  The weight was about 3 ounces, which translated later to 75 grams and generally speaking the packet looked to be value for money.