A Vale man played a key role in bringing of the nation’s favourite sweets, Percy Pig, which is celebrating its 21st birthhday, to shop shelves.
Food buyer Bill Davies, 52, of Wing, was one of the key people behind developing the fruit flavoured sweet.
Marks & Spencer’s launched Percy in collaboration with German manufacturer Katjes and now that simple Pig face has sold more than 100 million bags and its Facebook appreciation society boasts 250,000 members.
Mr Davies, a self-confessed foodie, said: “At the time we didn’t realise how big Percy was going to be. I think it’s amazing it keeps going from strength to strength, it’s captured the public’s imagination.”
Back in the ’90s a visit to Katjes by the M&S team bore no fruit as former developer Julia Catton left the Germans with a simple drawing of Percy and what they wanted to make.
Both sides persevered, though, and so Percy was born but not without issues, as originally the combination of foam and jelly meant he frequently appeared deformed – not that Mr Davies’ three- and five-year-old children minded.
Mr Davies, who still works as a buyer for M&S in soft fruit, said: “We were having problems getting the mould to look as it should.
“I remember taking big bags of the sweets home to my kids to see and get their professional opinions – something they really enjoyed.”
After initially struggling to take off, Percy eventually soared to such an extent that now Lewis Hamilton, Andy Murray and Calvin Harris all count him as a favourite.
Mr Davies added: “Initially sales weren’t good. It was very different to anything that was out at the time. But now I can’t believe it. It’s iconic. You don’t get fed up with them, either. A small bag is not enough.”