So news that it plans to permanently close all 61 stores - including on Fargate - putting 603 jobs at risk, feels like a personal blow to many.
Star reader LizzyBee summed it up well: “Sad news. Feels like losing a childhood friend.”
At its height, the firm employed 4,500 at more than 370 high street shops and 229 franchise counters across the country.
But one of Sheffield’s best known brands is now set to disappear from the High Street and exist online only.
Pat Waistnidge said: “I remember taking my kids to the chocolate factory when it was in Sheffield. I had written to ask if we could meet the Oompa Loompas at the factory.
“It was a great experience. Thornton's toffee is the best. The cherry nougat was my craving 51 years ago during pregnancy.”
Paul Whitehouse added: “This is very sad for all affected, but also because Thorntons allowed for a whiff of the exotic when 1970s Mother’s Days would have otherwise been dominated by Milk Tray.”
The company was founded by Joseph Thornton in 1911, selling homemade sweets from a shop, the Chocolate Kabin, at 159 Norfolk Street, Sheffield.
He carried on with his day job and entrusted his 14‐year‐old son Norman, who was taken out of school in Abbeydale, to manage the shop.
Norman brought in brother Stanley and they came up with sweet treats including ‘Violet Cachous’, ‘Sweet Lips’ and ‘Phul-Nanas’.
By the 1920s they were making chocolate truffles, crystallised fondants and their famous Thorntons special toffee.
The company expanded across the country but remained in family ownership, with grandson Anthony (Tony) and then Peter serving as chairman.
Peter wrote a book, 'Thorntons: My Life In The Family Business' which described how Joseph, a confectionary travelling salesman, had the idea on a visit to Sheffield.
He wrote: ‘Everywhere, the city displayed its new prosperity. A traveller from out of town would be dazzled by the riot of color at the annual Sheffield Fair, swept up by the noise and mingling crowds of the shoppers and proliferation of goods on the High Street.’
Joseph rightly judged that high-class confectionary would go down well with this clientele.
A second store on The Moor quickly followed. Chocolates were made in a back room. Production was moved to Archer Road in Sheffield and then to a converted former Rolls-Royce warehouse in Belper to cope with demand and by 1939 they had 35 shops.
Tony Thornton joined his father and uncle in the family company shortly after completing National Service in 1950.
He developed the boiled sweets department at the new factory. Later, he took over responsibility for retail and marketing from his father. He became known for his remarkable moving window displays using concealed motors and magnets to move massive chocolate rabbits, Easter eggs and Father Christmases to catch the attention of the passing public.
He became chairman of Thorntons in the 1970s. By the time he retired in 1984, the company had more than 150 shops and 70 franchise outlets.