Quality Street (confectionery)
Quality Street is a selection of individual tinned or boxed toffees, chocolates and sweets, first manufactured by Mackintosh's in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England, in 1936. It was named after a play by J. M. Barrie. Today it is produced by Nestlé.
In 1890 John MacKintosh and his wife opened a shop in Halifax, 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 beets and eggs. 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. The name was inspired by a play of the same name by J. M. Barrie.
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 coloured 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, colours, 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 1930s, Britain was still feeling the effects of the economic crash and MacKintosh realised that in times of economic hardship and war, people crave nostalgia. Quality Street chocolates were, therefore, packaged in brightly coloured tins featuring two characters wearing Regency era dress, known affectionately as Miss Sweetly and Major Quality. 'The Major' and 'Miss', inspired by the play's principal characters, appeared on all Quality Street boxes and tins until 2000. The original models for the pair were Tony and Iris Coles, the children of Sydney Coles who designed the advertising campaign that first appeared on a front-page newspaper advertisement in the Daily Mail on 2 May 1936.
Individual larger versions of the more popular chocolates are now manufactured and sold separately, as an extension to the brand, such as a bar based on the Purple One.
In Western Norway, Quality Street is called "Shetlandsgodt" or more commonly "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 leader was reported to have offered them to visiting British politician 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 October 2017, there are 12 flavours of the individually wrapped sweets, all of which are either chocolate or toffee based, as follows:
- "The Purple One" Milk Chocolate filled with hazelnut and caramel (purple wrapper)
- Green Triangle hazelnut noisette (green wrapper, triangular, foil)
- Chocolate Toffee Finger (gold wrapper, stick)
- Strawberry Delight (red wrapper, circular)
- Caramel Swirl (yellow wrapper, circular, foil)
- Milk Choc Block (green wrapper)
- Orange Crunch (orange wrapper, octagonal, foil)
- Orange Creme (orange wrapper)
- Fudge (pink wrapper)
- Coconut Eclair (blue wrapper)
- Toffee Penny (gold wrapper, circular)
- Toffee Deluxe (brown wrapper)
The Toffee Penny wrapper presented 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, a new material was adopted by the manufacturer to overcome the problem.
On 15 August 2013, the My Green Bar became available from Nestlé, which consists of four 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 cremes boxes.
In 2016, a new chocolate entitled Honeycomb Crunch replaced Toffee Deluxe because the boxes have several chocolate coated toffees already. It was reintroduced a year later.
- 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 Éclair
- Honeycomb crunch (Discontinued in 2018 to re-introduce Toffee Deluxe)
- 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)
- 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)
- Fig Fancy (light brown wrapper)
- 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
- Harrogate Toffee
- Fruits of the Forest Creme (pale purple wrapper)
- Smarties (ordinary cardboard box of Smarties, a 2004 promotion only)
- Coffee Cream (brown wrapper, same size and shape as the strawberry cream)
- Mint Fondant (pale green wrapper, same as strawberry crème but with a mint crème filling)
- Quality Street candy history. Société des Produits Nestlé S.A., accessed 13 January 2015
- Twigg, Venetia. "Venetia Twigg gives Quality Street ★★★★", London Festival Fringe, accessed 30 January 2012
- Chrystal, Paul Secret Knaresborough Amberley Publishing Limited, 16 September 2014
- Barmen, Ane (27 February 2015). "Du veit du er frå ytre Nordfjord når..." (in Norwegian Bokmål). Fjordenes Tidende. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- Simon Hattenstone "The Monday Interview: Saddam and me", The Guardian, 16 September 2002
- "Saddam Boosts Quality Street" Archived 21 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Sky.com, 16 September 2002
- James Mansfield "Nestle plays down Saddam's endorsement of Quality Street", Brand Republic, 19 September 2002