Our story is built on our people
All of us at Darrell Lea take great pride in our sweets and treats, working hard to capture something special in every bite!
What goes into all our confectionery? Only the finest ingredients, most mouth-watering flavours and a single-minded dedication to fun!
Sustainability matters for the people who make it, the people who grow it and naturally, for the planet.
Confectionery can make the world better
We believe that means better for everyone!
For more than two years, we have been busy bringing positive change to developing cocoa farming communities. As part of this initiative, we pay a premium for our cocoa beans.
100% sustainably sourced Cocoa
Darrell Lea is actively involved in making sure our cocoa comes from economically, socially and environmentally sustainable sources.
One difference makes all the difference
More productive farms means households can save and plan for the future, women can pursue other work opportunities and children can get an education.
The increased security from sustainable cocoa makes for thriving Communities that don’t have to rely on one source of income or worry about how they’ll get through the next harvest.
Caring for the environment
You may not think about it when you’re shopping for groceries, but you have the power to create meaningful change through the products you purchase.
With millions of Australians, from little kids to great grandparents, Darrell Lea is a traditionlong ingrained across Australia.
Darrell Lea has beeninventing&re-inventingchallenging& discoveringfor almosta century.
Learn how the ... good stuff started.
Harry Lea was one of eight children. Harry, his siblings and Mum, Hannah, spent three months at sea, making the trip from England to Sydney. When they arrived, Harris, their father, was waiting for them, having set out two years prior. So begins the Darrell Lea story!
The wandering years
Harry had a variety of occupations, including gold prospector, and was described as a “jolly, dapper man pushing a barrow of fruit and vegetables” in Perth!
It was in Adelaide that he met his wife Esther Goldman. He was many inches shorter than Esther, and 10 years older! They married on 30th March. Harry stood on a box when the wedding day photos were taken so no one noticed the height difference.
Harry and Esther moved around Australia and now had four children, Maurice, Nona, Montague (Monty) and Harris. Darrell was not yet born. They spent time in Ceduna, South Australia, where Harry became involved in catering, baking and toffee making.
Harry and Esther moved to Sydney and opened a fruit and vegetable shop on the Corso, Manly, where Harry started making toffees and hard candies to grow the business. Soon, fresh-to-the-counter, European-style toffees were displayed alongside their fruit and Darrell Lea’s reputation for its store displays was forged!
Harry and Esther abandoned fruit to focus on confectionery, opening a milk bar and confectionery store at 69 George Street, Haymarket, Sydney, called the “King of Sweets”. While competitors were selling chocolates for two or three shillings a half-pound, they sold theirs for one shilling.
Esther and Harry’s fifth and final child is born, Darrell. Because of his family’s improvement in living standards Darrell was able to attain a formal education. He was the only one in his family to do so.
The first city store opens, at 128 Pitt Street, Sydney and the theatre and instore experience all their shops would become famous for, begins. It’s the height of the depression and the business motto was “Freshness and Affordability”. The family worked fourteen-hour days, seven days a week so their product could be fresh, and families could afford it even in the Depression. The first record of family members earning a wage would not be for another six years, in 1935.
- Darrell Lea CO. is registered
Harry’s sons, Maurice and Monty set out to register the company name as Levy Brothers, but the clerk commented that it did not sound particularly good. So, he asked, who the young blonde boy was with them. “That’s our brother, Darrell,” came the reply. “Why not name the company after him?” said the clerk. Lea replaced Levy and Darrell Lea was registered as the company name.
Innovation in their shop displays and the variety of products on offer were key drivers of their retail growth. By now there aretwelve Darrell Lea shops in and around the Sydney CBD and the family is looking for factory space to expand production.
The first Rocklea Road was made. Half a pound’s worth sold for two shillings. The main ingredients were toasted marshmallow and roasted peanuts, hand-mixed with milk chocolate. Today Darrell Lea still makes Rocklea Road to this original recipe.
So much innovation!
Along with the iconic Rocklea Road, the first Coconut Ice was made, and Caramel Snows were launched as an up-market line. At the time, they were hand dipped in dark chocolate!
And the nougat Easter egg is invented by Darrell Lea, complete with fluffy chick.
The first Darrell Lea factory opened under the northern-most arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. A 20-year lease was taken out and the annual rent was £752. Today it’s the starting point for the famous Harbour Bridge climbs!
Darrell Lea opened its first interstate store on Swanston Street, Melbourne. A clever idea was the personalisation of Easter eggs. A shop assistant would sit in the shop window scripting names artfully on individual Easter eggs in thick icing sugar.
Our famous soft-eating black liquorice was invented in truth an accident, as a liquorice batch went wrong! We gave out the liquorice for free in brown paper bags and found that people really enjoyed it. Darrell Lea’s Batch 37 Fresh Soft Liquorice is the current day version of that recipe.
With over 500 Darrell Lea retail stores, across Australia, the company is going from strength to strength. A further retail opportunity is identified with the rollout of compact stores. The concept is a store within a store. The range of Darrell Lea treats could now be found in your local pharmacy, liquor store or petrol station.
Darrell Lea liquorice features at the banquet that followed the marriage of Mary Donaldson to Prince Frederik of Denmark.
Darrell Lea loved in Australia, becomes loved in the USA with the launch of Darrell Lea black liquorice. Darrell Lea is ranged nationwide with leading retailers and is now grown to be the largest black liquorice brand in America.
Darrell Lea now sells at its own stores and over
1,000 other outlets across Australia. Check out our stockists here.
We made the decision to change to 100% sustainably sourced cocoa. To do so, we turned to Cocoa Horizons, whose award-winning cocoa sustainability programme creates real change. Since then, we have not looked back!
We launched nationally a range of Darrell Lea chocolate blocks drawing inspiration from our popular treats including Rocklea Road, Liquorice, and Caramel Snows.
And to announce our arrival, we launch the “No Worries Jan” campaign. Jan is responsible for listing her company’s details in the Yellow Pages. A task she overlooks. Luckily for Jan her boss reaches for her block of Darrell Lea chocolate when she realises what has happened. Darrell Lea chocolate makes it better.
We become proudly 100% palm oil free in all of our Darrell Lea products.
We employ over 500 people across New Zealand, Australia, and USA. And we make one billon chocolate bullets a year, more than any other company on the planet. And we have our own shops in Levin NZ, Melbourne, and Sydney. Find us.
We've beenaroundthe block
Every little thing in a Darrell Lea treat is made of that moment of 'mmm'
Darrell Lea treats are at the heart of millions of Australian’s warmest and most evocative childhood memories. We are so proud to be part of Australia’s history in this unique way. We are also proud to be here today, expanding locally and internationally. We continue to be inventive, delighting consumers everywhere with new and delicious recipes and flavours.
We will never be run-of-the-mill, just ask anyone who works at Darrell Lea. “Makes it better” is not just a slogan. It represents the energy and optimism that our people bring to work each day. It’s in the way we source ingredients, the way we play with flavours and formats, and celebrate occasions with people throughout the year. From balls, to bullets, twists to blocks we love to surprise. Recently we have reignited Australian’s love for our classics; Batch37, Rocklea Road, and Caramel Snows. And we are just getting started!