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After Eight creator Brian Sollit dies aged 74
7:53am Thursday 12th September 2013 in News
THE man who created the After Eight for Rowntrees has died aged 74.
Brian Sollit, was one of the foremost confectioners of his generation and was a leading figure in the development of the After Eight mint, among many other successes in a long and fun-filled career.
Mr Sollit was born in York on November 16, 1938, just as wartime shortages were about to deprive his childhood of the sugar that would be his life-long passion.
He joined the York confectionery firm Rowntree’s in 1954, aged only 15, and was lucky enough to be chosen for the cream department where hand-piping chocolates gave him an opportunity to show off his flair for creative work and come to the notice of the department’s managers.
Less than ten years later, in 1962, he had risen through the ranks to become the confectioner for the “Crème Experimentation” division.
Mr Sollit was called aside and asked, in secret, to help come up with a method for wrapping delicate squares of peppermint fondant in fine, dark chocolate.
That was the very beginning of the After Eight mint and 50 years later he was still a fan. To mark the 50th anniversary of the after dinner mint in 2012, he came out of retirement to help make a celebratory giant After Eight.
The giant After Eight was made of real dark chocolate and peppermint fondant, and weighed 3kg.
Mr Sollit was given the opportunity to present his creation to the Houses of Parliament in November 2012 and said that it was one of the proudest moments of his life. He said that he felt like a king.
Mr Sollit’s love of After Eight did not end with his retirement six years ago. He continued to collect anything to do with his favourite sweet, from packaging to posters, eventually amassing one of the largest After Eight collections in the world.
Mr Sollit will be remembered for his generosity of spirit, his outrageous sense of humour, his larger than life personality, and his larger than life Christmas lights which, along with an impressive Christmas grotto, raised money for charity at his home each winter.
He is survived by his sister, Hazel and nephews Sean and Danny. He will be missed by a wide circle of friends from all over the globe.
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