Small but perfectly formed - 4Food meets the best of Britain's local producers. Helen Eastwood is half of the team behind yummy fudge makers Hi-T's
It's a perennial issue - children have sweet teeth, but not all parents are happy to indulge them with shop-bought treats. For fudge entrepreneurs Tina Allwork and Helen Eastwood, the answer was obvious: do-it-yourself.
"Tina decided to take home-baking a step further and make sweets," explains Helen. "She started making fudge and I wanted to get in on the act, so I started doing it too."
This thinking eventually lead to the founding of Hi-T's, a line of 'Too Yummy for Mummy' luxury fudge which took a raft of prizes at the 2007 Great Taste Awards - dubbed the food industry Oscars. Quite an achievement for a product that won its first fans at the gates of the school where both Tina and Helen had children.
As word-of-mouth popularity grew the pair realised they could have a viable commercial endeavour on their hands. "We did the Speciality & Fine Food Fair at Olympia in September 2006 and realised we were on to something," explains Helen.
The pair hit on their winning fudge formula after experimenting with 'an old school recipe' of Helen's. The results were three different textures of fudge, Velvet, Silk and Indulgence, in a variety of flavours, from the familiar likes of vanilla and chocolate to more exotic fare like champagne and lavender.
"Velvet is made of milk, it's drier and more crumbly and more textured," explains Helen. "Silk is smoother and creamier. People do fall into two very definite categories of which one they like best. Then the Indulgence is made with clotted cream - and really very indulgent!"
"We tapped into an area of luxury food, but without additives and bad things. The two combined have meant that the business has become quite successful."
Unlike other thriving industries, Hi-T's has moved against the flow of traffic to the Big City. The company started out in London but has moved to the West Country, arguably the home of fudge.
Rather than this being a case of coals to Newcastle, the move has been a success. "There's such a move down here for decent quality food," says Helen. "There's Taste of the West, which really pushes good quality food. It's a lot easier to get it into places down here". The locals have been keep to welcome the city expats - "my local post office sells our fudge," laughs Helen, "I can't imagine a post office in London selling it."
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