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Everything you need to know about Lee's Snowballs

Published: July 16, 2015

Lee's snowballs have been a Scottish favourite for decades. Created using the softest mallow coated in luxuriously soft chocolate and sprinkled with delightful shavings of coconut to create the ultimate sweet treat.


Created in 1931 from the humble beginnings of a Coatbridge grocery, John Justice Lee, the owner's son, discovered a love for sweets. While experimenting in the shop and trying to a smooth chocolate fondant bar he created the first ever Lees Macaroon bar.

John Justice Lees. Picture: Lees

John Justice Lees. Picture: Lees


Tablet, fudge and coconut ice bars soon followed before John perfected the formula for both tea cakes and snowballs. The company grew from strength to strength and even partnered with and bought Heather Cameron Foods in the 80s.

Trading took a dip towards the end of the decade and this led to the company seeing record losses in 1990 before being sold to Northumbrian Fine Foods a year later.

However, just two years later it was back in  independent Scottish hands.

Packaging from the 1970's

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In 1998, Lees created massive new premises an 82,000 sqaure foot factory, purpose built for them - still in Coatbridge, where all of Lees products being manufactured there.

Lees – as the saying goes “Lees, Lees, more if you please” - continues to expand its operations with new ranges being developed, however it's the old favourites such as the legendary snowball and macaroon bar that continue to make the brand successful.


Lees snowballs now come in several shapes and sizes (though sadly no one has  made a giant one yet) and can be bought in a range of packages and can be purchased in packs of 10 or boxes of 24.

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There is also new mini snowball created as bite size treat for sharing.

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Last year, Lees were forced to team up with their rival Tunnocks to take on the tax man to prove that snowballs were in fact cakes not biscuits.

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Having both been landed with a massive VAT bill, they decided to take the HMRC to court over their claims that the snowball was “standard-rated confectionery”.

Judges Anne Scott and Peter Sheppard tested a plate of treats including Jaffa cakes, Bakewell tarts and meringues – all classified as cakes for tax purposes – as they made their decision.

Ms Scott said: “We found that the plate looked like a plate of cakes. We were also left with samples of all of these, together with Tunnock’s snowballs.

“We tasted all of them, in moderation, either at the hearing or thereafter.

“A snowball looks like a cake. It is not out of place on a plate full of cakes. A snowball has the mouth feel of a cake.”

“It would often be eaten in a similar way and on similar occasions to cakes, for example to celebrate a birthday in an office.”



Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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