Ovaltine

Famous Fleets: NarrowBoat, Winter 2007

Alan Faulkner

Alan Faulkner gives a flavour of the history of one of the more colourful canal fleets operated by a company that used their narrowboats as floating advertisements

Whilst many people will have heard of Ovaltine, few will have heard of A. Wander Ltd, the Swiss company that introduced the health drink to this country. It was founded in 1864 by Dr George Wander, and all the early directors were either doctors or were involved with pharmaceuticals. Between them they developed a method to make malt extract using a low temperature vacuum process that produced a clear amber syrup, rather than the caramelised sticky residue that could resultwhen the temperature was less carefully controlled. By adding other ingredients such as milk and eggs to the malt, Ovalmaltine – as it was originally called – was created. It had a high calorific value and excellent storage properties. In 1910 a branch of the business was established in London with the Ovaltine being imported from Switzerland. It quickly proved to be very successful and in 1913 the company decided to build a factory at Kings Langley to manufacture the drink in this country. A site was c…

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