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.
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).