Fisherman's Friends always seem to have been a part of my life when I was growing up ! I remember when I was a kid, it was a playground dare to see who could keep one in their mouth for the longest ! In the midst of winter, we'd have fun sucking one then spitting it into the snow, watching it turn the snow yellow then melting a ring around where it lay ! Then when I was at uni, one of my house-mate's favourite one-liners was "Suck a Fisherman's Friend .. and watch him smile" !
Fisherman’s Friend lozenges have been around for donkey's years. They were created in Fleetwood, Lancashire in 1865, when it was the centre of the fishing industry. James Lofthouse, a young pharmacist, developed a strong liquid using menthol and eucalyptus, which the fisherman took to help relieve the ailments on their long voyages in the freezing conditions. The choppy waters made taking the liquid from glass bottles rather tricky, so James made them into lozenges. It wasn’t long before the fishermen referred to the miracle lozenge as their ‘friends’, and hence the name Fisherman’s Friend was created ! Today, Fisherman’s Friend is still produced in Fleetwood, by the Lofthouse family, and is enjoyed by tens of millions of people across the world.
But despite keeping the traditional recipe and packaging, Fisherman's Friends have reinvented themselves over the years, adding loads of new flavours to the range. They even laugh about this on their website, saying : "Try our new pomegranate and petunia blossom flavour! No, just joking. We only do proper flavours at Fisherman’s Friend, and we do them very well (ie. strongly). Original is stocked almost everywhere, but some of the others are a bit harder to find. You may wish to complain to your friendly local retailer about this dereliction of duty. Tell them to pull their socks up and stock a few more of the products to the left." They add : "BE WARNED ! Should you ever be offered a Salmiak flavour Fisherman’s Friend, be very careful. The constitution of the average Briton is genetically unprepared for this salty liquorice flavour which is only available to consenting Scandinavians. They go in for that sort of thing. But we don’t !"
The flavours that you will find in Britain are Original Extra Strong, Sugar Free Blackcurrant, Aniseed, Sugar Free Cherry, Sugar Free Mint, Sugar Free Original and Sugar Free Lemon. Personally, I'm not keen on the Original flavour (although my dad swears by them !) but I love the fruity varieties, especially as they are sugar-free so they're low in calories and better for your teeth. As a teacher, if I've been shouting at the kids too much, I'll suck one at breaktime and it never fails to soothe my throat (so that I can start shouting all over again !!).
I was also intrigued to see that people have been buying the Aniseed variety hoping it will help stave off swine flu ! This time last year, they reported : "Health-conscious Brits have been stockpiling Fisherman’s Friend Aniseed after learning that Star Anise – or pure aniseed – is a key ingredient in both swine flu medicinal treatment Tamiflu and Fisherman’s Friend Aniseed, sending sales of the iconic lozenges up by 43%. [...] Fisherman’s Friend spokesman Rob Metcalfe explains: “Aniseed in its natural form is one of the key ingredients in Tamiflu - and also in our Aniseed Lozenges. Star Anise has been used as a medical treatment for thousands of years, particularly in traditional Chinese medicine to relieve the body of colds and flu, as well as in tea to treat rheumatism, while the seeds are also used to aid digestion. People have obviously heard about the health benefits of Aniseed and because of this we have been overwhelmed by the response towards our Aniseed variant. We have barely been able to keep up with demand.”
If you've never tried Fisherman's Friends and you'd like to, you can find out how to get a free pack right here, where I tell you about their Save our Carollers campaign !
For those of you who love a freebie, I also discovered on the website that if you send them four empty packs, they'll send you a gorgeous iconic tin - while stocks last.
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : 69p for 25g
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