Grimsby lecturer who accidentally invented Jelly Tots and helped develop astronaut food for NASA

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Jelly Tots have been loved for decades, but their origin stories aren’t what you’d expect, as their inventors, who taught at Grimsby, are also linked to NASA’s Apollo missions to the Moon.

Fruit-flavored desserts have, of course, been loved by generations for decades. However, they came about by pure chance when Dr Brian Boffey was experimenting in the 1960s. He invented them during his time working for Rowntree’s in York and never pocketed a single penny from his permanent creation.

Originally from Horsforth, Leeds, Dr Boffey was also a senior lecturer in food and science. Grimsby Technology College. He was vice president of the Science and Mathematics Department from 1964 to 1969.

Read more nostalgia stories from Grimsby Live



Black and white photo of him sitting at a table wearing glasses.
Dr Boffey’s teaching career eventually saw him appointed Principal of Thomas Danby College in Leeds until his retirement.

It is highly respected in the field and was jointly awarded as part of the 1976 Essay Award by the Institute of Food Technologists. Meanwhile, in his 1980s article The Shape of Catering, he emphasized that in the next decade, people will want simpler meals and more home-grown produce.

The story of Jelly Tots In the early 1960s, 28-year-old Dr. What we now know as Jelly Tots was just a spin-off—something to throw away in her eyes.



Four men are sitting on chairs in the front, behind them are three men and a woman dressed in professional clothes and smiling for the camera.
Rowntree’s former management of the factory where Dr Boffey worked there in the 1960s.

The marketing manager at the time liked their look, and when told they were a waste, the director asked Dr Boffey to color and flavor a few and bring them to his office – or so the story goes.

Impressed by its flavor, Jelly Tots were born in 1965 and soon began to be sold in stores across the UK. Jelly Tots quickly became a national favorite and most popular of the kids Rowntree’s line of desserts.

While Dr Boffey inadvertently created a sugary treat that we still enjoy today, his original plan to experiment with powdered jelly that hardens instantly when added to cold water has been deemed unsuccessful. But later he helped NASA get to the Moon.



The man is standing on the moon in his astronaut gear.  He salutes the American flag next to him.  You can see space in the background.
Astronaut David Scott salutes next to the US flag during the Apollo 15 mission on July 30, 1971.

The US government agency approached Rowntree to assist with the freeze-drying process of food for the Apollo space missions. Dr Boffey then flew to Chicago and worked with NASA and together they succeeded in their mission. “It didn’t taste very good, but it gave them the nutrition they needed!” Dr Boffey said. said.

While Dr Boffey was working there, there were some unusual requests from Rowntree. They contained chocolates that were shipped to India with the lids soldered so that the termites could not reach them during transport. Usually, they would come completely empty due to annoying little creatures.

There was also a rumor that some of his Kit Kats were self-igniting. It was later discovered to be a game put together by warehouse staff who wanted to cover up that they were all smoking there.

Whatever the success of his invention, Dr Boffey was far more fond of a piece of chocolate and didn’t really care that he didn’t receive financial rewards for creating Jelly Tots. He said Rowntree had really done well with him over the years and was happy that he had some success with his original failed experiment.

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