Collecting Machintosh’s Quality Street Tins

Collecting Machintosh’s Quality Street Tins

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a tree, mince pies, presents and of course a tin of Quality Street sweets.

Since 1936, Nestlé Quality Street has been enjoyed by families across the UK and the sweets’ distinctive jewelled wrappers are as synonymous with the festive period as Father Christmas.

quality street boxes

Quality Street was created by confectioner Harold Mackintosh and was named after J. M. Barrie’s play to reflect the selection’s high quality ingredients. The first assortment was produced 80 years ago in Halifax, where to this very day the sweets are still made.

Nestlé archivist Alex Hutchinson has released Harold Mackintosh’s first designs and flavours of the now world-famous sweets.

Alex said: “This is the first time anyone has seen these records, and we’re excited to be sharing them for Quality Street’s 80th anniversary. The records show just how much thought went into the original assortment, and how Lord Mackintosh was concerned with the same things we are: great sweets, made from great quality ingredients, in beautiful wrappers and a tin or tub you’d want to keep. It’s fascinating to see how the assortment has evolved over the years, but stayed true to the Mackintosh’s original idea.”

Throughout the past 80 years, the selection of chocolates has changed many times, however five of the original sweets still remain in the collection.

This year, the much-loved brand celebrates its 80th birthday and to mark this milestone anniversary, Nestlé has added a new sweet to the collection, Honeycomb Crunch.

The chocolate is the newest addition to the brand since the Milk Chocolate Block was added in 2007 and is the result of research among chocolate lovers.

Jon Smith, the brand’s manager said: “Christmas is a time to celebrate and as this Christmas marks Quality Street’s 80th birthday, we felt it was important to recognise the occasion with a brand new sweet. With its golden wrapper and delicious blend of creamy milk chocolate and honeycomb, our Honeycomb Crunch is an indulgent treat perfect for any celebration. For many families sharing a tub of Quality Street has become a Christmas tradition. Long may this tradition continue for the next 80 years and beyond.”

Quality Street Myths

Quality Street has never been a static assortment and the mix is constantly changing since it was launched in 1936. The new sweet (Honeycomb Crunch) has replaced the Toffee Deluxe, which was the newest addition to the Quality Street selection in the UK.

Honeycomb Crunch

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.

Toffee Deluxe

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).

A Bunch of Quality Street Candies

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.

Toffee De Luxe

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

I’ve got some beautiful examples of big, colourful stickers on the base of tins that were instead of a menu. Sometimes they have a paper menu, and sometimes they don’t.

Quality Street Packaging

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.

Mackintosh's Christmas Carnival