Quality Street is a popular selection of individual tinned or boxed toffees, chocolates and sweets, produced by Nestlé. Quality Street was first made in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England in 1936. It was named after a play by J. M. Barrie.
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.
The brand was acquired by Nestlé when they bought Rowntree Mackintosh in 1988
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 Snoop” (snoop is Norwegian slang for 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 politician George Galloway in 2002. Nestlé were initially positive, but then chose to backtrack about the connection.
Text from Wikipedia