Advert for Rowntree's Rock Cocoa
Formerly an apprentice at his father's grocery store in York, Joseph Rowntree moved to London as a young man and continued to work in retail. He was appalled by the poverty he saw on London's streets, and this would greatly affect his future as an entrepreneur.
On his return to York, he joined his brother's fledgling Cocoa, Chocolate and Chicory Works. Initially a small business with a staff of 30, by the end of the century the factory employed over 4,000 workers. Rowntree's factory was progressive: he employed a social welfare officer, a doctor and a dentist, and offered free education to staff under 17 years of age. In the 1860s he carried out two major surveys into poverty in Britain and passed control of the Rowntree's empire on to his son, Benjamin. Now a subsidiary of food giant Nestlé, the Rowntree Company continues to trade mostly in chocolate and confectionery.