Minor British Institutions: Fisherman's Friends

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The Independent Online

Almost a century and a half ago, a Fleetwood pharmacist named James Lofthouse developed a menthol and eucalyptus liquid for fishermen to take with them on their excursions into the cruelly cold waters of the North Atlantic.

The original glass bottles weren't ideal in choppy conditions, so the handy little lozenges were invented. As well as being reassuringly hot, the eucalyptus is good for your tubes, you know. Still based in Fleetwood, the factory churns out a million packs a year in a bewildering number of variations on the original theme, including the especially curious salmiak-flavoured version, salmiak being a sort of salty liquorice favoured by fishermen in Nordic states.

Lemon, apple, blackcurrant and spicy mandarin are also offered. Sucking a Fisherman's Friend has always been a pleasure that has appealed to a determined minority. Made in the same town by the same family since 1865, you're never alone with a friend. About 68p a packet.