Smartie Lids

One of our unique postcards – can you spot the secret message?

‘Chocolate Beans’ were first produced by Rowntrees in 1882, priced at 2d, but became ‘Smarties Chocolate Beans’ in 1937, and following a trade description issue became ‘Smarties’ shortly after. Production stopped during WW2 due to restrictions on non-essential items, and was reintroduced in 1946 with plain chocolate centres instead of the usual milk, due to the demand for fresh milk. Sweet rationing was not lifted until 1953! Supplies were becoming more stable and Smarties went back to their original specification.

Plastic lids were first used on Smarties tubes in the 1950s, and in the 1960s letters (and occasionally numbers) were added to the underside of the lids, These were designed as a teaching aid, and collected by children.

The lids have undergone many changes over the years. Early lids carried the Rowntrees logo with a letter or number on the back. Some of the early letters were upper case, which were later replaced by lower case letters, just before the change to the new metric size somewhere between 1965 and the mid-seventies. The old imperial lids(A) were 1″ in diameter, slightly larger than the 22 mm metric lids (B), and only came in dark blue, yellow, orange and green.

In the early 1990s Nestle bought out Rowntrees, and the ‘Rowntrees’ wording on the lid was replaced with ‘Smarties’ (C).

Many limited editions have been introduced over the years. Special colour lids were often linked to the smarties inside, for example:
– a white lid (with blue and white ‘Smarctic frostbite’ Smarties containing white chocolate, early 2000s)
– a special green lid (with Gruesome Greenie Smarties)
– a special blue lid (with blue Smarties)
– a silver lid (with brown and red cola-flavour Smarties, 2000)
– metallic lids featuring dinosaurs on three colours of Smarties (~2000).

Special symbols on the reverse of the lids include a Smartian set of 8 different designs in 4 different ‘day-glo’ colours from 1995-96 and a further Smartian set in green in 2002.

There was a football set FROM 2000 with 8 different words (PASS, CORNER, TACKLE, FOUL, BOOKED, PENALTY, SHOOT, GOAL) and 8 different colours.

Much of the information and images here were sourced from various websites including here.