Nobs, Snaps & Jam(Jam)s: Purity approaches 100 years

Posted on December 02, 2022 | By Alexander Chafe | 1 Comment


Old ads for Purity Syrup (left) and Hard Bread (right). (Photo credit: Purity Factories Ltd.)


Are Jam Jams your jam? Is hard bread a must in your fish stew? Have you already stocked your cupboard with strawberry syrup for the holidays? For 98 years Purity has provided Newfoundlanders with a variety of sweet treats and pantry staples. While Purity products bring a feeling of nostalgia throughout N.L., the brand is now enjoyed across Canada and in the U.S.

Founding trio

Purity Factories was founded by C.C. Pratt, A.E. Hickman and W.R. Goobie in 1924 in St. John’s, Newfoundland. After acquiring a soda company and candy store, the trio began producing unique Purity products that catered to the tastes of Newfoundlanders. From their small store in downtown St. John’s, they created the first three products (all still made today): fruit-flavoured Purity syrups, Peppermint Nobs and chewy candy called Purity Kisses.

Next to come was Purity’s Hard Bread, which became an instant staple for fishermen because of its long shelf life. The firm biscuit was used in place of bread when at sea since it wasn’t possible to bake onboard. Hard Bread is also used in the traditional Newfoundland dish fish and brewis, which is still popular today.

The success of Hard Bread led to the creation of other Purity crackers and biscuits like Ginger Snaps, Cream Crackers, Lemon Creams and more.


Purity products in stock at the grocery store (photo credit: Purity Factories Ltd.)


New jams

In the 1950s, Purity moved from its downtown location to its current factory on Blackmarsh Road. It was around this time that they introduced jams to their product line. While they started with a variety of flavours, only Blueberry and Partridgeberry and Apple remain today. Flavours like Strawberry and Raspberry were discontinued over the years due to heavy competition. But, the unique flavour combination of their Partridgeberry and Apple Jam contributes to its popularity as a Purity classic.


A Jam Jam martini garnished with a Purity Jam Jam cookie (photo credit: SaltWire Network)


Trending times

Purity continued to create several long-standing products, as well as respond to cultural trends over time. In 2020, Purity added a pineapple flavour to its line of syrups, a very popular flavour in Newfoundland (likely due to the island-exclusive Pineapple Crush soda). The company also jumped on the pumpkin spice trend and released a pumpkin spice cookie in the fall of 2021.

Restaurants in N.L. also recognize the popularity of Purity in the province. At the St. John’s Fish Exchange, you can find a Jam Jam Martini on the menu made with Raspberry Purity Syrup and topped with a Jam Jam cookie.


A Purity Goodies Box filled with classic Purity treats (photo credit: Purity Factories Ltd.)


Continued classic

Today, Purity has a line of over 50 products that includes candies, crackers, cookies and more. While sales started in Newfoundland, Purity products are now sold across Canada and in the United States. But for Newfoundlanders, Purity products will always be a taste of home. As the holidays approach, pantries will be stocked with Purity Syrup and other sweet treats to enjoy with family and maintain tradition.

Nostalgic goodness dating back 98 years.


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