The makers of the boiled sweets ‘Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls’ undertook an investigation into the identity of their mascot only to discover that he didn’t exist.
The mints first made in the kitchen of a Victorian terraced house 125 years ago feature a friendly faced man, dressed in a top hat and tails on their tin.
Originally it was believed the man was a relative of the Santus family who first made the mints for miners in Lancashire.
But after years of research managing directors John Winnard, 62, and his brother Antony, 60, have discovered that there is no Joseph in the Santus family.
Each year 33 million sweets are produced in the same way as they were back in 1898, when William Santus’ wife Ellen started boiling up sugar in the kitchen of her home in Acton Street, Wigan.
John, William Santus’s great-great nephew, said: “There probably was no Joe, he’s fictitious, and we think he was made up by our great-great uncle.
“William not only made the sweets, he dreamed up the advertising campaigns and it seems he even drew the character on the tins.
“When I started to give talks about the company I always got asked and to be honest I always left it hanging.