Ah, the York Peppermint Pattie. So often overlooked and under appreciated! The smaller size was familiar to me as a kid (see photo below), but I don’t know if I was even aware it came in a larger pattie form until I was at least a teenager. The York Peppermint Pattie basically consists of a delicious minty sugar paste disc covered in a thin layer of dark chocolate.
In the 1920s, Henry C. Kessler, a York business man that I could find no further information about, founded the York Cone Company in York, Pennsylvania. Unsurprisingly, they made ice cream cones. In 1940, the Peppermint Pattie debuted in York. Kessler’s goal was to create a firm, crisp peppermint candy, opposing the others on the market: gummy, sad little fellows unworthy of consumption by the proud citizens of York. Former employee and York resident Phil Kollin (not to be confused with music great, Phil Collins) remembered the final factory test of the pattie: “It was a snap test. If the candy didn’t break clean in the middle, it was a second.” It is worth noting here that the current recipe for the candy is a bit softer. I do wonder if there is some grave rolling happening somewhere. and gained popularity so quickly that the York Cone Company soon stopped making ice cream cones altogether, focusing all of its energy on the production and distribution of the York Peppermint Pattie. For some reason unknown to me, they kept calling themselves the York Cone Company.
In 1972, the York Cone (Pattie) Company was acquired by Peter Paul, original maker of one of my favorite candies: the Almond Joy. This move launched the York Peppermint Pattie nationally in 1975. Not nationally enough, though, I guess, since in 1978, Peter Paul merged with Cadbury Schweppes. And in 1988, the pattie made yet another move when Hershey Foods acquired Cadbury Schweppes’ US Confectionary Operations. Much to the chagrin of York residents, Hershey recently shifted production from the United States to Mexico. Much like myself, the Pattie likes to move.
In 1966, a spunky little tomboy named Peppermint Patty appeared in Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip. Capitalizing on the popularity of the comic strip and creating a bit of an urban myth surrounding the character’s name, York became one of the exclusive sponsors of the Peanut television specials on CBS in the 1970s. In an unimportant-to-the-company back story, the York Peppermint Pattie wasn’t introduced nationally until 1975, several years after the Peppermint Patty character was introduced. California-based Schulz would have been very unlikely to have come across one before that point. Schulz has said that he named Peppermint Patty after a dish of peppermint candies he had in his office and that the character had roots in the Women’s Liberation Movement of the late 60s.
In 2009, the company released a new product, York Pieces, part of a larger “Pieces” line. York has also created a number of holiday-related shapes and sizes for the Patties, including Peppermint Batties (love this name) for Halloween, which Wikipedia claims were replaced in 2007 by Peppermint Pumpkins (less exciting), but I saw today in Walgreen’s Halloween Creep 2011 mixed in with the other regular candy. Peppermint Snowflakes are available at Christmas. The miniatures are also available in a cute little heart shape for Valentine’s Day. A sugar-free version of the candy is available.
I’m a big fan of York Peppermint Patties in their smaller, fun sized form. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a full size Pattie, though I’m sure I would enjoy that too. I always keep them in the freezer and now I know that I’m doing my part to keep the dream of Henry’s crispy mint patties alive. I’ve also had the sugar-free variety and I think it tastes exactly the same, so its a good option for those who can’t partake in sugar but don’t want some funky-tasting replica ruining their day.
A full size York Peppermint Pattie contains 140 calories, 3g fat, 2g saturated fat, 10mg sodium and 32g carbohydate.