In 1928 an advertisement appeared in the London Daily Telegraph asking for a young chemist able to produce Iaboratory size batches of confectionery. Having at that time spent five years in the analytical and development labs. of J. S. Fry & Sons, the world renowned chocolate manufacturers, and having by that time acquired a good overall appreciation of many aspects ol the chocolate and confectionery world, and full of enthusiasm, I replied to the advertisement which was a box number. The reply came back from A. Boake Robert & Co. Ltd. Manufacturing Chemists of Stratford, in the East End of London. My only knowledge of these people had been in seeing syphons of liquid sulphur dioxide on University shelves. Boake Roberts, I found later, was closely associated with the brewing industry, and that accounted for the sulphur dioxide which was used as the preservative for beer.
The story of A. Boake Roberts is of some interest. A. Boake went from Ireland to London to prepare sulphur dioxide which he had found was a preservative for beer. From what was said when I joined the company, this started as a 'stick and bucket' process. The business flourished and Boake sent back to Ireland with a request to his old friend, Roberts, who was a pharmacist, to come and help. The entree to the brewery trade with SO2 compounds (potassium meta bisulphite was, in fact, the end product), suggested the possiblility of making burnt sugar colouring for beers. The drifting of the brewery industry into the soft drink trade in turn created a demand for satisfactory flavors for, particularly, lemonade.