Week 21 2024

Horlicks Sign

This privately purchased Horlicks sign is a beautiful example of the iconic advertising produced in a bygone era.

Horlicks was the very first dried milk to be successfully marketed throughout the world.

Having failed to raise capital in the UK, two brothers from the Forest of Dean, James and William Horlicks, set up a partnership in Chicago in 1873 to manufacturer artificial infant food. James was responsible for sales to the medical and pharmaceutical profession, whilst William looked after production and finance.

Sales began to boom, and a further product innovation enabled them to produce the first malted milk, through adding whole milk to the mashed malted and barley flour, then drying the lot under a vacuum. The finished product could then me mixed with hot water to give a complete, sterile beverage suitable for consumption by infants and invalids.

Needless to say, business boomed, and James returned to the UK in 1890 to set up production firstly in Farringdon, and then in Slough. William kept the American venture and James’ son took over the UK and rest of world business after his father died in 1921.

In 1969, Horlicks shareholders accepted a bid from Beachams for £20million. Under their guidance sales of Horlicks had doubled its production by 1995.