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Growing up with the magic of Bettys

15 December 2016

Madeline's children admire the Bettys Christmas windowWhen people find out that Bettys is my family business, after, “Ooh, do you get to eat as many cakes as you want?!”* they often ask what it was like to grow up with such a 'Yorkshire institution' in the family. Well, the answer is simple – it meant a café full of cakes, a shop full of biscuits and a bakery with a tap that poured chocolate! It was exciting and fun and delicious. Of course, the grown up answer to the question is much more complex, but through a child's eyes that pretty much covers it.


Bettys Santa Biscuits, from 1988

And since that's how I felt about Bettys in general, you can probably imagine the sort of feelings it stirred in me as a child during the festive season. There's a simple equation that describes it, in fact: Bettys + Christmas = Magic.

I remember the frosted windows of Bettys Harrogate, brimming with goodies – how my brothers and I would stand and stare! – and inside, the beaming staff serving frothy hot chocolates, and the huge, sweeping counter laden with delicious treats.

I can almost taste the massive golden guineas, the beautifully decorated Santas with the wonderfully startled expressions, the lebkuchen trees with almonds (that we would pick off at home and feed to the cats!), the Christmas cakes with snowy icing that I wanted to dive into (face first), the puddings, the pies the ... oh, just everything!

In the years since those memories were made, I've become a mum myself and, as you might imagine, I'm keen that my three boys should experience the magic of Bettys just as I did. Trips to the shops and cafés, especially during December, are therefore a must.

The Christmas window still spins an enchanting web of its own

The Bettys Christmas elves – our wonderful bakery team – have developed many new products since my childhood, but there are some firm favourites that remain, like the chocolate coins and mice that always appear in stockings on Christmas morning (because, of course, Father Christmas shops at Bettys!), the mince pies and those deeply frosted Christmas cakes.

Madeline and her brother Antony, c 1982

And then there are the modern interpretations of the classics, like the gingerbread version of those almond-topped Christmas trees I mentioned. They now come with chocolate drops instead of nuts, which my boys love (sorry cats, you're out of luck!).

Of course, the Christmas window still spins an enchanting web of its own. We were at the Harrogate branch just last weekend and my three children, like my brothers and I before them, stood in front of the window and gazed at it all. They pointed and gasped and asked questions: “Are those chocolates painted with real gold? How do they put the snow on those houses? Can we eat it all at once?” and I saw in their eyes the same wonder and delight that I'm sure was reflected in my own all those years ago. In fact, I think it's there to this day.

Because Bettys + Christmas = Magic.

*Oh, and in case you were wondering, I don't get to eat all the cake I want (not usually, anyway...).

By Madeline Bennett, a fourth generation Bettys & Taylors Family Shareholder.