Kendal Mint Cake is one of the things that Kendal is famous for. It holds the record for the highest confectionery eaten in the world as it was carried up Mount Everest by the expedition of Sir Edmund Hilary in 1953. Hilary and Sirdar Tensing ate Kendal Mint Cake on the top of the mountain. It had also been used on the 1914 trans-antartic expedition led by Shackleton. The reason why Kendal Mint Cake is so popular with mountaineers, hill-walkers and explorers is the high energy value (sugar-carbohydrate-calories) within it. Kendal Mint Cake is not really a ‘cake’ but a high calorie sugar bar flavoured with mint, which can help sustain maximum levels of exertion with just a few bites, it is also an incredibly light weight and compact food source to carry.
It is reputed that Mint Cake was first made in 1869 at the Kendal factory of Wipers, a confectionery company, when a batch of sugar boiling went wrong. However the new ‘cake’ soon caught on and other companies were founded in competition, Quiggins in 1880; Wilsons in 1913 and Romneys in 1919. Only the later is still not producing mint cake as it merged with Wipers in 1988 continuing to produce under the Wipers brand.
The Museum has a display dedicated to the various makes of mint cake.