Do you know what a "caker" or a "thumper" is when it comes to licorice?
- Until the 1960s Pontefract cakes were all stamped by hand, by a woman known as a “caker” or a “thumper”. Greased tins or trays were supplied. A lump of liquorice paste was then taken, kneaded, rolled and pinched into little pieces. Then each cake was stamped with a hand stamper. The finished tray was left overnight on a drying table. The next day a “stripper” scarped off the cakes with aluminum scarper and packed them into boxes. A “thumper” could turn out 30,000 Pontefract cakes a day!
- There was a huge social side to the factories. Workers in the rooms all used to sing together, play music and many people remember listening to rock and roll while they worked. The factories also had sports teams such as a hockey and cricket teams.
- Of course one of the perks was slipping the odd sweet in your mouth, in fact one of the factories rules book of 1955 states: “The company has never taken exception to the eating of a reasonable quantity of sweets whilst at work, but drastic action will be taken against any person found pilfering or harbouring sweets in clothing...” Some workers do however remember taking out contraband liquorice laces out of factories, tied around their waists!