Why Are Everton Fans Called Toffees? (Explained)

Everton flag

The Toffees is undoubtedly one of the most distinctive nicknames in English football.

And if you have no idea of the history of the club it will make no sense to you whatsoever.

So why are Everton fans called Toffees?

We delve into the formative years of Everton and even beyond that to investigate the set of circumstances that lead to this unusual epithet.

So let’s get started…

Why Are Everton Fans Called Toffees?

Everton fans are called toffees because the boiled sweet is an integral part of the history of the club. Located near to the club’s original grounds was ‘Ye Ancient Everton Toffee House’, a hugely popular shop in the suburb of Everton at the time. When they moved to Goodison Park in 1894 they were next to another toffee shop, Mother Nobletts. Toffees were part of the match day routine and lead to the club and its fans picking up the nickname.

Two men wearing retro football inspired t shirts with text in between them

The Story of Molly Bushell

The origin of Everton’s nickname the Toffees, goes back a long time, way back even before the club was formed in 1878 as St Domingo’s FC.

The story starts in 1753 when Molly Bushell began making her own boiled sweets in an open oven at the rear of her home in the Everton suburb of Liverpool. She called them ‘Everton Toffee’,

There is also another name that plays an important part right at the start of the story, Doctor James Gerrard.

It was actually his recipe, initially used as a form of cough medicine, that Molly made the sweets from. 

The sweet was quite a novelty and proved very popular with both locals and wealthier people living further afield.

Old news article about Everton toffee

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In 1783 the success of Everton Toffee enabled Molly to move across Everton to a bigger house located on Village Street

She expanded her product range and converted the bottom half of her home into a shop.

By the early 1800s her business was thriving. Batches were regularly shipped to Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens was another famous customer.

Ye Olde Ancient Toffee House

In 1818 Molly Bushell died, but her cousin Sarah Cooper took on her recipe and continue to make and sell the increasingly popular Everton Toffee from what was now called ‘Ye Ancient Everton Toffee House’. 

By 1878 when Everton was founded, the Ye Ancient Everton Toffee House was an important part of daily life in the expanding suburb.

For the first year of their existence, Everton were called St Domingo’s FC, after the St Domingo Methodist New Connexion Chapel the founding members belonged to.

In the early years of their history Everton moved from ground to ground. 

First, they played on the corner of Stanley Park, then Priory Road and then at Anfield (future home of Liverpool) for eight years.

Ye Ancient Everton Toffee House was a part of the matchday routine for supporters who would stop off and pick up the popular snacks before or after matches.

Enter Mother Nobletts…

In 1892 Everton moved grounds again to Goodison Park.

For the first time since their formation in 1878, Ye Ancient Everton Toffee House was no longer the nearest toffee seller to their ground.

That honour went to Mother Nobletts Toffee Shop, located no more than a few metres from the stadium.

For the first couple of years, Ye Ancient Everton Toffee House maintained its place as the sweet of choice amongst Everton fans.

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This was largely due to an agreement struck up between the shop and the club that allowed Ye Olde Ancient Toffee House into the ground to distribute their sweets to fans before the match.

It was Molly Bushell’s daughter Jemima that did the job, throwing sweets from a basket into the crowd.

That tradition carries on to this very day. A toffee lady does the rounds before every home game, dressed in traditional 18th-century attire to throw the famous Everton Mints to fans.

However by 1894, the final member of the original Molly Bushell’s toffee-making dynasty retired and Nobletts bought both its shop and its toffee recipe.

Nobletts coated the product with sugar stripes and sold it as Everton Mint. The black and white color of the mint was meant to imitate an Everton strip of the time.

Nobletts itself was eventually sold to the bigger confectionery firm Barker and Dobson which is now owned by the Cadbury Trebor Bassett empire.

The Everton Mint is still a popular part of its repertoire of sweets, but the recipe is no longer the original patented by Molly Bushell back in the 1750s!

All of the original toffee-making buildings in this story are long gone, but apparently descendants of Molly Bushell live in Neston on the Wirral Peninsula and they still own her original copper toffee-making pan!

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Final Thoughts

If you have ever wondered why Everton fans are called toffees, and the club’s nickname is The Toffees, hopefully this helps you understand why.

It is all down to one lady, Molly Bushell, and she died a full 60 years before the club was even founded!

But if she hadn’t started making Everton Toffee back in 1753, then who knows what Everton’s nickname might be now!

Her Ye Ancient Everton Toffee House become an integral part of daily life in the suburb of Everton, with passing fans stopping before and after games for the sweet.

Even when Everton moved to Goodison Park in 1894, the sweet remained part of the club thanks to the neighbouring Mother Nobletts toffee shop which went on to buy the recipe for the popular Everton Toffee, and rebrand it as Everton Mints.

To this day the club’s heritage is still remembered by a toffee lady who throws Everton Mints into the crowd before home games.

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