The history of Blackeby's Sweets

How sweet it is

Just off Rundle Mall, you'll find a whimsical world of confectionery straight from a dream, where an enchanting storefront of saccharine colour and animated dioramas beckon you in to explore row upon row of rainbow-striped lollies and shelves brimming with treats. Anyone with a sweet tooth or a penchant for discovering hidden Adelaide gems will know Blackeby's Sweets well, as a local purveyor of hand-crafted confectionery for over a century and beloved Adelaide landmark that continues to charm new generations.

From humble beginnings

In 1883, 14-year-old William Blackeby became South Australia's first indentured apprentice, employed by Thomas Ransley to assist in the manufacture of sweets for his market stall. After the sudden death of Ransley, Blackeby moved to Mildura to work as a station hand, before eventually returning to the trade when Ransley's widow married another confectioner and reinstated the business. Blackeby married the Ransleys' daughter Agnes, and together they continued to create homemade sweets, opening Blackeby's Sweet Depot in 1915 in the Central Markets, where their son Bill eventually carried on the family business.

Before long, Blackeby's was well known for its hard-boiled sweets, hand-cranked and shaped after being coloured and flavoured on gas heating tables. Favourites included acid drops, humbugs and fish, which are still made to this day, along with coconut ice, rocky road, peanut brittle and rainbow jellies.


William Alfred Blackeby and his wife.

A new era

In 1997, Blackeby's was purchased by Graeme and Lauren Smith, who were assisted in the business by William Blackeby's grandson Paul until his death in 2017. In 2004, the iconic James Place store opened, delighting visitors with a unique storefront designed and crafted by Adelaide artist Matt Jonsson, conveying the transportative magic of visiting a candy store. Staying true to a tradition of local production and time-honoured methods, Blackeby's continues to manufacture its sweets in Stepney to William's original recipes, where copper pots are still stirred by hand over an open flame and sweets are coloured and flavoured as they always have been. Today, Blackeby's remains a mainstay of Rundle Mall's line-up of iconic stores, selling over five tonnes of toffee apple boiled lollies every year in addition to the huge range of hard-to-find sweets from Europe and the USA, and even supplying specially-requested candy for famous faces such as P!nk and Justin Bieber during their stays in Adelaide.


Graeme Smith making humbugs at the Blackeby's factory in 1997.