While hanging out with David, Jenny, Andy and Michelle, a heated argument broke out. The subject was one of those close to all our hearts, the history of British chocolate. To be precise, the history of the Rowntree Aero bar.
Andy and Jenny had the sheer audacity to suggest that the Aero chunky bar (the long thin one, released in the 1980’s) had been the first, and that the segmented Aero (the wide flat break-into-bits one) had come out afterwards…
Despite the fact that David used to live in a shop in Wirksworth that sold Aeros, and that the flat Mint Aero was one of my Dad’s favourites long before I came along, we were shouted down. So, I hereby intend to prove that the flat Aero was as old as the hills, and the Aero Chunky a mere 80’s upstart, an Aero-brand publicity stunt, the only redeeming feature of which was the indirect creation of the Cadbury Wispa bar.
Exhibit A is the image at the top of this page, a scan of a 1971 Aero bar, ruthlessly stolen from Alan’s Chocolate Experience. It clearly shows the pre-decimalization price of the bar to be 9 old British pence (d was used for pence, s for shillings and l for pounds - no-one knows why).
Exhibit B is this quote taken from the NestlÃƒÂ© Rowntree brands website:
Aero was introduced in the North of England in 1935 as the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthe new chocolateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and proved so popular that sales were extended throughout the UK by the end of the same year. It was originally going to be called Airways to reflect the vogue for jet travel in the 1930Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s when it was launched.
Exhibit C is Rowntree’s British patent GB 459583 showing that the process involved in manufacturing the Aero bar was patented in 1937, two years after the bar was released. See this FoodiesCorner page for a summary of the patented process (about a three-quarters of the way down that page).
Exibit D is the Bradford Timeline showing that the Aero Chunky was released in 1982, and that Cadbury responded to this by releasing the Wispa bar in 1983 (see also the Cadbury Milestones pages, and this article from The Mirror about the demise of the Wispa bar, which has now become the Dairy Milk Bubbly.
I rest my case. ;-)
On an aside, I’ve also found out that someone has been leaving Rude messages on Aero bars. Tsk!
I also found this page which mentions the Smith & Jones television ad for the Wispa.
UPDATE: I got an official answer from Nestle, and here it is.