The Early History of Romney's Kendal Mint Cake

The Early History of Romney's Kendal Mint Cake

George Romney Ltd is a fourth-generation confectionery business that you’ll find located on the edge of the Lake District National Park in the market town of Kendal.

Mr Sam. T. Clarke, the great grandfather of the present Managing Director, Mr John Barron, started production of Romney’s Kendal Mint Cake in 1918 after being medically discharged during the First World War.

Unable to obtain supplies of Kendal Mint Cake, he sought out and purchased an old recipe and started a confectionery manufacturing business.

The company name ‘George Romney Ltd.’ was chosen as a result of Kendal’s association with the famous 18th century portrait painter, as well as the fact that the family home was on Romney Road.

Romney's Kendal Mint Cake was immortalised in history on May 29th 1953 when it was carried on the first successful summit of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sirdar Tenzing.

All of our production now takes place on-site at Mintsfeet Industrial Estate, Kendal, where we have been since 1969. We now employ 16 members of full and part-time staff, who collectively produce over 100 tonnes of Romney’s Kendal Mint Cake a year. We also produce a large range of fudge, gift hampers, and our very own Old Fashioned Treacle Toffee — that’s still being made to an original family recipe.


Joseph Wiper is said to have produced the first batch of Kendal Mint Cake by mistake in 1869. While making a batch of clear mints he took his eye off the pan and the mixture had become cloudy… and so Kendal Mint Cake was born.

Wiper’s continued to produce Mint Cake until 1987 when they were bought out by George Romney’s Ltd, who still make Mint Cake with Wiper’s original recipe to this day.

During its rise in popularity, Kendal Mint Cake was seen as a great energy source that would remain stable in extreme conditions.

Our cake became a staple of many early 20th century expeditions, including the first-ever land crossing of the Antarctic led by Sir Ernest Shackleton between 1914-1917.

Although the land crossing was unsuccessful on this occasion, it was still recognised (quite rightly) as a major feat of perseverance and endurance, setting the stage for even greater adventurous feats in the years to come.

Thankfully… this was not the end of such adventures with Kendal Mint Cake.


In 1953, George Romney Ltd received a letter from a member of the British Mount Everest Expedition 1953, who had contacted them after seeing an advert for their Mint Cake in a climbing magazine.

The British Mount Everest Expedition had requested that 38lbs of Mint Cake be taken with them as part of their high altitude rations.

During this time, the order had to be approved by the Ministry of Foods as food rationing was still in place following the end of the Second World War.

The Ministry of Foods gave the go-ahead and 38lbs of Romney’s Kendal Mint Cake was delivered to be taken on one of the greatest expeditions of all time.

At 11.30 am on the 29th May 1953,  Sir Edmund Hillary and Sirdar Tenzing from the British Mount Everest Expedition finally reached the summit and became the first people ever to have conquered the Earth’s highest mountain.

With regards to the Romney’s Kendal Mint Cake they had taken with them, a member of the team wrote:

“It was easily the most popular item in our high altitude ration packs – our only criticism is that we did not have enough of it”

Since that day in May of 1935, our famous cake has gone from strength to strength and remains a firm favourite of adventurers worldwide.

Did you know?

When making the push for the summit of Mt Everest, a climber will burn on average 20,000 calories a day, as well as 10,000 calories a day for the rest of the climb.

That kind of endeavour requires quite a few bars of Romney’s Kendal Mint Cake…

Drop here!