The two-billionth Uncle Joe’s Mint Ball has rolled off the production line in the Lancashire town where it all began more than a century ago.The milestone was reached on Wednesday 16th February 2011 at 13.21 at the famous factory in Wigan, the town proud to call itself the home of the Mint Ball since 1898. But the makers of the two-billionth sweet have decided it is far too important to be sucked, crunched and eaten, and instead local art students will encase it in resin for posterity.
It will then be displayed as part of a special exhibition being at the Museum of Wigan Life to honour the much-loved mint. The first Mint Ball was made by Ellen Santus in the kitchen of her home in Acton Street, Wigan, 113 years ago.It became the signature product of the confectionery company run by her husband, William Santus.
The sweets have gone from rags to riches – once favoured by miners in the local coalfields because they were a good replacement for smoking tobacco while underground, they have since been sold in Harvey Nichols, Harrods and Bloomingdales.
William Santus opened his first sweet factory in 1919 and, although some machinery has been updated throughout the years, the Mint Balls themselves are still made by hand using traditional methods on the same site.
On Wednesday, Mr Santus’s great-great nephew, John Winnard, the fourth generation of the family and managing director at Uncle Joe’s, said: “Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls are famous across the globe and so we wanted to commemorate this very special milestone in our history.
“Eating the two-billionth Mint Ball was not an option, as we couldn’t decide who would have the honour of enjoying such a special sweet. Instead we wanted to preserve the Mint Ball and enjoy our big moment – as it will be at least another 30 years before we see our next billionth anniversary!”
The factory churns out 160,000 Mint Balls per day, 720,000 per week and 35 million per year – which means the company will produce its three-billionth mint ball in 2041.
Published by: Kilkenny People Feb 16th 2011