Abel Hoadley (10 September 1844 – 12 May 1918) was a manufacturer of jams and sauces, remembered today as the inventor of the popular Australian confectionery bar, the Violet Crumble. Hoadley was born in Willingdon, East Sussex, England, the son of Peter Hoadley, blacksmith, and Elizabeth Ann Hoadley, née Wheeler.
Hoadley arrived in Australia in 1865. His first business was manufacturing and selling jams and pickles, with produce fresh from his own orchard in Burwood East. In 1889, Hoadley opened a jam factory in South Melbourne, Victoria, trading as A. Hoadley & Company. In 1892 he made a trial shipment of preserved fruit to England, with encouraging results. By 1894 he was selling "Rising Sun" brand jams in 2 pounds (0.91 kg) tins; in 1895 the "Rising Sun" brand was applied to a range of jams, sauces and confectionery.
Business was good, and in 1895 a new five storey factory was opened at 222 Park Street, South Melbourne, where the jams and preserves were manufactured and canned on the upper floors.
Abel Hoadley opened a jam factory in South Melbourne, Victoria, in 1889, trading as A. Hoadley & Company. By 1895, business had expanded rapidly and Hoadley built a five-storey premises, the Rising Sun Preserving Works. He produced fruit preserves, including jams and jellies, candied fruit and peels, sauces, and confectionery, and employed a workforce as large as two hundred. By 1901, there were four preserving factories and a large confectionery works. Hoadley had acquired the firm of Dillon, Burrows & Co. and extended his products to vinegar, cocoa, and chocolate.
Although Hoadley had much earlier advertised his company as "confectioners", this aspect of production was not prominently advertised, and may have only served to keep the business running between the various fruit seasons. They began advertising milk chocolate in 1909 and toffees in 1912. In 1910, the jam business was sold to Henry Jones Co-operative Ltd (IXL) and in 1913, Hoadley's Chocolates Ltd was formed with a capital of £75,000. The same year, Hoadley produced his first chocolate assortment.
Confectionery was from around 1913 manufactured at "Barrackville", on St Kilda Road, South Melbourne, at the Coventry Street corner. The factory was totally destroyed by fire in January 1919. The company took out a lease on a nearby block of land bounded by Coventry, Hanna and Dorcas Streets and turned the old site into a public park.
The new factory was also given the name "Barrackville", and "Hoadley's Barrackville Cocoa and Chocolate" became a trade name, perhaps echoing Cadbury's Bournville Cocoa. Hoadley's "Violet" chocolates first appeared as a brand name in 1917, and their "Violet mixture" in 1921. This would appear to be their "premium" line, as they sold for nearly 50% more than their "Barrackville" mixture.
Hoadley's Chocolates made the first Polly Waffle bar in Melbourne in 1947. It was conceived by company accounts supervisor and family friend, Mayfield B. Anthony.
In 1972, Hoadley's Chocolates was acquired by Rowntree's and became known as Rowntree Hoadley Ltd. In 1988, Nestlé acquired Rowntree. The Rowntree chocolate brands were initially branded as Nestlé-Rowntree, until Nestlé dropped the Rowntree name altogether.
The original orchard site in the Melbourne suburb of Burwood East where Hoadleys sourced the fruit for their james was sold at less than market price to the Methodist Church Central Mission for the establishment of a Boys' Training Farm, which later became the Tally Ho Boys' Home. The site now houses residential development, Crossway Baptist Church, the National Archives of Australia and the Tally Ho Business Park.
Hoadley and Susannah had fourteen children. He died at the age of 73 in his home, "Bella Vista", in the Melbourne suburb of Kew, Victoria. The Hoadley company was acquired by Rowntree's in 1970 and then by Nestlé in 1988.
Hoadley's name is remembered in the name of the successful Australian rock band competition, Hoadley's Battle of the Sounds, which ran from 1966 to 1972 and was sponsored by the company. The competition was used to heavily promote the Violet Crumble bar.
Polly Waffle (1947)
The Polly Waffle - a crispy wafer cylinder filled with marshmallow and dipped in chocolate - was one of Australia's favourites confectionery items during the 20th century. Hoadley's Chocolates made the first Polly Waffle bar in Melbourne in 1947. It was conceived by a company accounts supervisor and family friend, Mayfield B. Anthony.
During the 1970s, the advertising slogan for Polly Waffle was "mmm, crunch, aah!". In mid-2009, a new recipe for Polly Waffle was released along with new packaging announcing the change. The new product was the same appearance as the older product, but contained a more sugary and brittle wafer. On 23 November 2009 Nestlé discontinued Polly Waffle after 62 years due to poor sales.
In 2015, Melbourne-based company Chocolate Works released "The Great Aussie Waffle Log", a product specifically designed to mimic the Polly Waffle, in response to a social media campaign calling for the resurrection of the classic bar. In 2019, Adelaide confectioner Robern Menz signed a deal with Nestlé to produce the Polly Waffle, a year after purchasing the rights to produce the Violet Crumble, also from Nestlé.
Violet Crumble (1913)
When Abel Hoadley produced his first chocolate assortment, he packed it with a piece of honeycomb. The honeycomb became so popular that Hoadley decided to produce an individual honeycomb bar. This was not an easy task; as the pieces of honeycomb cooled, they absorbed moisture and started sticking together. Eventually, this hygroscopic nature of honeycomb led Hoadley to dip the honeycomb bars in chocolate, keeping the honeycomb dry and crunchy. Thus, in 1913, the Violet Crumble bar was created.
Hoadley wanted to call his new bar just Crumble, but learned that it was an unprotectable name. He thought of his wife (Susannah Ann née Barrett) and her favourite flower, the violet, and registered the name Violet Crumble, using a purple wrapper with a small flower logo. The confectionery bar was an instant success at the time and has remained popular into the twenty-first century.