11 Quality Street Myths

By Alex Hutchinson, Nestlé UK Archivist and Historian

23 September 2016 See comments (21)

We have some good news here at Nestlé Confectionery HQ: we’ve just got a new Quality Street sweet! Quality Street has never been a static assortment and we’ve been constantly changing the mix since it was launched in 1936. The new sweet (Honeycomb Crunch) has replaced the Toffee Deluxe, which was our newest addition to the Quality Street selection in the UK.

Some myths surrounding the changes have been circulating in the media so here’s my chance to get the story straight:

Myth #1: Toffee Deluxe has been in Quality Street since 1936

Nope, sorry. Toffee Deluxe wasn’t in the original assortment, although the original assortment did contain a lot of toffees. My favourite is the “Harrogate” toffee, it was a toffee flavoured with lemon and ginger and sounds heavenly.

Myth #2: Nestlé have dropped Toffee Deluxe altogether

If you’re a Toffee Deluxe fan then never fear, it’s in the toffee and fudge pack, and limited edition tins.

Myth #3: Toffee Deluxe has been a part of our Christmas’s in Britain for decades

Are you sure you’re not thinking of the malt toffee? The malt toffee was definitely in Quality Street in the latter part of the 20th century. Toffee Deluxe was added to Quality Street in 2011 to celebrate our 75th anniversary. Toffee Deluxe has been part of our Quality Street export assortment for many years, and was available for a long time in a packet all of its own (known as Toffee De Luxe), but it hasn’t always been part of Quality Street in the UK. I’ve been raiding my archive for evidence of it being in Quality Street before 2011, and I haven’t found any evidence of it being in the UK assortment at all, but I’m going to keep looking and come back with a more detailed history of Quality Street nearer Christmas.

(UPDATE: new evidence has come to light in the archive that shows Toffee Deluxe being heralded as "new" in selected packs in 2007, and across all packs from 2011 -- the search of the archive continues).

 

Myth #4: Toffee Deluxe is the oldest established Quality Street Sweet:

Actually, the green triangle, toffee finger, caramel swirl and purple one are the oldest. Green triangle was originally called Noisette Pâté, the toffee fingers were Golden Ingots, caramel swirl was the Toffee Cup (but it has evolved somewhat), and the purple one had a Brazil nut in (swapped for a hazelnut in the middle of the 20th century) and was called the Chocolate Crème Toffee Brazil.

Myth #5: Toffee Deluxe was invented in 1919

The First World War press ads that I have for Toffee De Luxe (that's the original spelling) prove pretty incontrovertibly that Toffee De Luxe was invented before 1919.

Myth #6: John Mackintosh invented Toffee Deluxe, and his wife helped him

John worked in a cotton factory; Violet had worked as a confectioner, ran a confection/pastry shop herself, and wrote down the recipe. It may have been the done thing, in the early part of the 20th century, to down-play the contribution of a woman, but we are in a new century now, and I think it’s high time we gave credit where credit is due: Toffee Deluxe was invented by Violet Mackintosh of Halifax, West Yorkshire.

Myth #7: Introducing a new Quality Street is a big deal

Are you telling me that you didn’t try our Hazelnut Crunch in 2011? No? Me neither, I’m allergic. My colleagues all told me it was brilliant, though. We’re always swapping the assortment around and have been since 1936. As consumers’ tastes change, we respond with new sweets, or alter old ones; like when we took all the artificial ingredients out and made the range 100% natural.

Myth #8: Nestlé are getting rid of the paper insert for the first time in 80 years

We haven’t always had a paper menu. I’ve got some beautiful examples in the archive of big, colourful stickers on the base of tins that were instead of a menu. Sometimes we have a paper menu, and sometimes we don’t.

Myth #9: Quality Street was the first chocolate assortment that wasn’t for the gentry

Quality Street was a bit late to the party on this one; Black Magic and All Gold were already making chocolate accessible, but certainly Quality Street was part of that trend.

Myth #10: Quality Street was the first assortment to be individually wrapped in coloured paper and put into a decorative tin

*Facepalm* Nope. Mackintosh’s had been doing all of that for all of their other sweets for decades before that, and I’ve seen no evidence that they were the first.

Carnival

Myth #11: Quality Street is named after a play called “Quality Sweet”.

Now this one doesn’t even make sense. Why would we call it Quality Street if the play was called Quality Sweet? No, they were definitely both called Quality Street.

 

The history of Quality Street is far more interesting than I can give room to here, so I’ll be back before Christmas with a longer account of our favourite Yorkshire assortment, and lots of gorgeous pictures of our retro tins. In the meantime, don’t forget to try our new Honeycomb Crunch and tell us what you think of it on Quality Street's twitter feed (twitter.com/QualityStreetUK) or join the conversation on our Facebook page (Note: you need to be logged in to Facebook for this link to work)

  1. ChocFan @ No

    23 Sep 2016 - 15:57 (GMT)

    Great article! Looking forward to finding out more about the history of Quality Street!


  2. Jessica Aldis @ No

    24 Sep 2016 - 13:56 (GMT)

    I remember a red one - a sort of rounded oblong shape - that was crackly, crunchy toffee/caramel inside a chocolate coating. That was my second favourite (after the Purple One) when I was a child. What was it called, and what became of it?


  3. Neil @ Nestlé

    04 Oct 2016 - 11:11 (GMT)

    That's one I also recall well - my personal favourite! Wasn't it the "Hazlenut Cracknell"?


  4. Ian Skeffington - Shift Manager @ Nestle

    29 Sep 2016 - 17:44 (GMT)

    That was the cracknel sweet.


  5. Alex Hutchinson - Archivist and Historian @ Nestlé

    13 Oct 2016 - 09:39 (GMT)

    I remember the Cracknel too; one of my favourites. It was a descendant of the Valencia Cracknel (an almond coated in flakey sugar) which was in the original assortment. I've had a trawl through the records and I haven't been able to find the exact date it departed, but I think I remember it from the 1990s.


  6. Colin Gill - Technical Operator @ Nestle

    13 Dec 2016 - 21:04 (GMT)

    The current Toffee De Lux plant was installed in 1993 and made an Éclair type sweet before moving to Malt toffee and then TDL before this time the line produced Cracknel so you are about right with thinking it was the early 90's Alex.


  7. Alex Hutchinson - Archivist and Historian @ Nestlé

    19 Dec 2016 - 15:12 (GMT)

    Thank you Colin! It's always great to hear from the experts on the line. Hope the new sweet has given you all as much pleasure to make as it has given the rest of us to try. May you all enjoy a very well-earned Christmas break after your herculean efforts to keep the nation stocked with Quality Street this season.


  8. Jessica Aldis @ no

    17 Oct 2016 - 14:04 (GMT)

    Oh, yes! Cracknel - that was it. I still feel mournful not finding any in the Christmas tin. They made the fact that my dad got most of the purple ones bearable. Dear Nestle: please bring back the Cracknel. Please, please, pretty please with bells and bows and goo-goo eyes.


  9. Tracy Penny - Nurse @ no

    25 Sep 2016 - 13:21 (GMT)

    I love quality street takes me back to being a little girl in the late 70's. Would be so lovely to see them bring back all the original sweets just as a one off for christmas also in the original BIG tin like they use to be. Im sure most people would agree with this, a blast from the past delicious .


  10. John Francis - No @ No

    30 Sep 2016 - 10:07 (GMT)

    Thanks for a very interesting blog, I had no idea that sweets could have so much history!

    I have tried the Honeycomb Crunch and it is so much better than the Toffee Deluxe.


  11. lee marshall - CARE ASSISTANT @ NO

    08 Nov 2016 - 22:36 (GMT)

    WHY HAVE YOU REMOVED THE CARAMEL CUP WAS MY MUMS FAVOURITE OUT OF THE WHOLE TIN.COULD HAVE TAKEN THE GREEN TRIANGLE OUT.NOT HAPPY.


  12. Alex Hutchinson - Archivist and Historian @ Nestlé

    09 Nov 2016 - 17:27 (GMT)

    Hi Lee,

    I asked the brand manager for you and he says that the Caramel Cup is still in the assortment. It now has a swirly design on top and is called the Caramel Swirl. Were you thinking of Toffee Deluxe? If so, don't worry, your Mum can still enjoy those too as they are available in the Toffee & Fudge carton and can be found in most stores, and online here: http://bit.ly/2e3hoB8


  13. Alison @ no

    12 Dec 2016 - 12:22 (GMT)

    Have you produced the just Fruit Cream selection this year, if so can you tell me who stocks them.
    These are my absolute favourite.


  14. Alex Hutchinson - Archivist and Historian @ Nestlé

    13 Dec 2016 - 11:01 (GMT)

    Hi Alison,

    Thanks for getting in touch. Yes, we make them and they are being stocked by Asda and Tesco this year. Enjoy!


  15. Grace - N/a @ No

    13 Dec 2016 - 19:07 (GMT)

    Please triple the price, make 'the tin' a tin and quadruple the size. Please fill the large, pricey, tin with excellent, quality sweets and lets us have something to covet and get excited about again. Your current offering doesn't meet the mark of being a brilliant gift or have the necessary quantity or quality to sit by the Christmas tree as 'The Chocolates'. Nostalgic? 'Yes' but that's what customers want. Christmas is Nostalgia.



  16. Alex Hutchinson - Archivist and Historian @ Nestlé

    19 Dec 2016 - 15:48 (GMT)

    I nearly forgot; you can find all the contact details for Consumer Services here: http://www.nestle.co.uk/getintouch/contactus


  17. Alex Hutchinson - Archivist and Historian @ Nestlé UK

    19 Dec 2016 - 15:45 (GMT)

    Dear Grace,

    Thank you for your message, I have excellent news for you: as well as selling Quality Street in our usual card cartons and plastic tubs we are also selling it in four different tins (proper metal tins), in a variety of sizes and decorations, including an 80th anniversary nostalgia tin featuring the Major and Miss in all their glory. However, the tins aren't available to buy everywhere which is why you might have missed them this year. If you get in touch with my colleagues in the Consumer Services department they should be able to tell you where your nearest retailer is.

    The quality of the sweets themselves gets better every year, as our recipes are now free from artificial colours, preservatives and flavours. We make both our chocolate and toffees from scratch here in Yorkshire, and the milk and dark chocolates are made to a special recipe that is just for Quality Street (our secret Yorkshire recipes for Kit Kat and Aero and our other Yorkshire-made chocolate bars are quite different again). If there is a particular sweet that you have really liked, don't forget to write to the Consumer Services department so that we can add your feedback to the list.

    I don't know the plans for 2017, but I know that we are always trying to improve. I will pass your comments on to the brand managers this afternoon and get them to add them to their melting pot for next year; fingers-crossed next year's even more exciting than this one.


  18. Michelle Dodd @ No

    28 Dec 2016 - 15:39 (GMT)

    Please bring back the cracknel!!


  19. Martin Cargill @ No

    29 Dec 2016 - 15:59 (GMT)

    Where can I buy a 3 kg tin like the old days please

    Many thanks


  20. Alex Hutchinson - Archivist and Historian @ Nestlé

    12 Jan 2017 - 18:25 (GMT)

    Hi Martin,

    Thanks for getting in touch. If you want to know the sizes of all the tins in this years range you can get in touch with our Consumer Services department ( http://www.nestle.co.uk/getintouch ) who are very knowledgeable. We do still make some large tins, but I don't think we make catering size anymore.

    Thanks,

    Alex


  21. Effie Gale-Sides @ no

    08 Jan 2017 - 18:37 (GMT)

    I never did find the Major and Miss tin. Perhaps I just left my Christmas Shopping too late. Perhaps you can have it again next year?
    I am forever wary of my fillings and the look of disapproval from my dentist, so I don't mind toffees going, but soft caramels are another matter. I always thought there were too many toffees, but I think the varieties are now about right. I really like the new one.
    Quality Street is a part of my family celebrations, not just Christmas. Us gathering together just wouldn't be special without passing around these shiny, delicious little chocolates.

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