Quality Street (confectionery)
In 1890 John Mackintosh and his wife opened a shop in Halifax, Northern England, where they created a new kind of sweet by mixing hard toffee with runny caramel. These toffees were made from inexpensive local ingredients such as milk, sugar beet and eggs. The name was inspired by a play of the same name by J. M. Barrie. They were so successful that in 1898 they expanded the operation to build the world’s first toffee factory. It burned down in 1909 so John bought an old carpet factory and converted it into a new facility. When John Mackintosh died his son Harold inherited the business and in 1936 he invented Quality Street, which is still manufactured in the same facility today.
In the early 1930s only the wealthy could afford boxed chocolates made from exotic ingredients from around the world with elaborate packaging that often cost as much as the chocolates themselves. Harold Mackintosh set out to produce boxes of chocolates that could be sold at a reasonable price and would, therefore, be available to working families. His idea was to cover the different toffees with chocolate and present them in low-cost yet attractive boxes. Rather than having each piece separated in the box, which would require more costly packaging, Mackintosh decided to have each piece individually wrapped in colored paper and put into a decorative tin. He also introduced new technology, the world’s first twist-wrapping machine, to wrap each chocolate in a distinctive wrapper. By using a tin, instead of a cardboard box, Mackintosh ensured the chocolate aroma burst out as soon as it was opened and the different textures, colors, shapes and sizes of the sweets made opening the tin and consuming its contents a noisy, vibrant experience that the whole family could enjoy.
In the mid to late 1930's, Britain was still feeling the effects of the economic crash and Mackintosh realized that in times of economic hardship and war, people crave nostalgia. Quality Street chocolates were, therefore, packaged in brightly colored tins featuring two characters wearing old fashioned dress, known affectionately as Miss Sweetly and Major Quality. 'The Major' and 'Miss', two figures inspired by the play's principal characters, appeared on all Quality Street boxes and tins until 2000.
In recent years, individual larger versions of the more popular chocolates have been manufactured and sold separately, as an extension to the brand, with a bar based on the Purple One made most recently.
In Western Norway, Quality Street is called "Shetlandsgodt" or more commonly as "Shetland Snoops" (Shetland Sweets), because it often was brought home by fishermen visiting Shetland. In Iceland it is traditionally known as "Mackintosh."
Quality Street gained the implied endorsement of Saddam Hussein when the Iraqi dictator was reported to have offered them to visiting British MP George Galloway in 2002. Nestlé were initially positive, but then chose to backtrack about the connection.
The sweets within the box have changed and evolved over the years. As of December 2012, there are 12 flavours of the individually wrapped sweets, all of which are either chocolate or toffee based, as follows:
- Milk Chocolate Purple One (Hazelnut with caramel) (purple wrapper)
- Chocolate Green Triangle (Noisette Pate) (green wrapper, triangle)
- Chocolate Toffee Finger (gold wrapper, stick)
- Toffee Penny (gold wrapper)
- Vanilla Fudge (pink wrapper)
- Strawberry Delight (red wrapper, circular)
- Coconut Eclair (blue wrapper)
- Caramel Swirl (yellow wrapper)
- Milk Choc Block (green wrapper)
- Orange Crunch (orange wrapper, octagonal)
- Orange Creme (orange wrapper)
- Toffee Deluxe (brown wrapper)
The Toffee Penny wrapper was a bit of a problem for a number of years because the wrapper would stick to the confection. Following a suggestion by packaging manufacturer William T. Robson O.B.E (Bill), a new material was adopted by the manufacturer to correct the issue.
On 15 August 2013, the My Green Bar became available from Nestlé, which consists of 4 original green noisette pate triangles held together by milk chocolate. This is also available in My Purple Bar.
Lemon Zing is exclusive to the fruit creams boxes.
- Purple One (the original 'Purple One' with Brazil nut, replaced with hazelnut version)
- Chocolate Strawberry Cream (now replaced with Strawberry Delight)
- Chocolate Toffee Cup (now replaced with Caramel Swirl)
- Hazelnut Cracknell (red wrapper)
- Hazelnut Eclair
- Chocolate Nut Toffee Cream
- Malt Toffee (replaced with toffee deluxe as a "new" flavour)
- Milk Chocolate Round (now replaced with Milk Choc Block in green wrapper)
- Peanut Cracknell (blue wrapper)
- Coffee Cream (brown wrapper, same size and shape as the strawberry cream)
- Almond Octagon (purple wrapper, replaced with Vanilla Octagon, but the latter is now discontinued as well)
- Gooseberry Cream (green wrapper light green fondant with a touch of Gooseberry Preserve covered in milk chocolate)
- Apricot Delight (blue wrapper, square chunk, apricot flavored jelly covered in milk chocolate)
- Toffee Square (metallic pink wrapper, a small square of very hard toffee)
- Chocolate Truffle (brown square chunk, a soft truffle filling covered in milk chocolate)
- Montelimar Nougat
- Smarties (ordinary cardboard box of Smarties, a 2004 promotion only)
- Simon Hattenstone "The Monday Interview: Saddam and me", The Guardian, 16 September 2002
- "Saddam Boosts Quality Street", Sky.com, 16 September 2002
- James Mansfield "Nestle plays down Saddam's endorsement of Quality Street", Brand Republic, 19 September 2002
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