African town in rush to snap up Ponte ‘delicacy’

sweet treat: The Pontefract cakes are causing a stir.
sweet treat: The Pontefract cakes are causing a stir.

Sweets made in Pontefract are causing quite a stir in an African town after selling out in double quick time, according to a newspaper columnist.

Expatriate Rob Fidler lives in Uvongo on the east coast of South Africa and writes for the South Coast Herald where he recently put pen to paper about Pontefract cakes.

Tea time: Rob Fidler tucks into a plate of Pontefract cakes at his home in South Africa.

Tea time: Rob Fidler tucks into a plate of Pontefract cakes at his home in South Africa.

Describing them as ‘one of life’s true delicacies’ he admits he was surprised to find the liquorice sweets stocked in one of his local shops, but says they sold out within a few hours after news of their arrival ‘spread like wildfire’.

The 77-year-old, who had worked in publishing and as a civil servant for the Rhodesian government, told the Express: “Imported sweets are rare these days in South Africa; however, from time to time, one might discover English sweets and toffees in our shops and stores. There is one particular store here in Shelly Beach, the next resort along from Uvongo, that somehow brings in ‘the best of British’, including, for example, HP sauce and Heinz tinned baked beans.

“I just happened to be in this particular sweet shop when Pontefract cakes were on the shelves. And, yes, the news did spread like wildfire with a run on them.”

Originally from Lancashire, Mr Fidler emigrated in 1965 blaming the ‘Big Freeze’ winter of 1962/63 for his decision to head for a hotter climate.

The cakes, which have been made in Pontefract since the 17th century, bear the stamp of Pontefract Castle across them proving they are manufactured in West Yorkshire, are popular among the South Africans, although Mr Fidler says expats do tend to snap them up.

“Like many Brits overseas, anywhere in the world, I guess, childhood memories of the old country are still nostalgic,” he added.

“Not only sweets and goodies, but of all the great things about Britain, including the rain, Yorkshire pudding, fish ‘n chip and meat pies.”