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Right Up My Street

 

 

if something is right up your street, it is the kind of thing you really like. It is just to your taste, or is ‘your thing’. Brisk dog walks through the leaves, followed by a cup of tea by the fire is right up Nicer Kate’s street. But she is a Walking Cliché. 

 

A tin of Quality Street chocolates is a compulsory British Christmas item. There is a hint of Christmas when mince pies arrive in the shops (these days, in about early September), but when the shops start piling up the tins of Quality Street right by the main doors, then you know Christmas is about to land properly on your head.

The chocolates themselves originate from Halifax, W Yorkshire, about 1936. Harold MacIntosh’s mother and father had started the world’s first toffee factory in the town about 40 years earlier, but when Harold took over the family business, he started making chocolates too. He named them Quality Street, after a play by J.M. Barrie (you know, the chap who wrote Peter Pan), and was really having a bit of fun with the phrase ‘quality sweet’.  And because this was post-Depression Britain when only the wealthy people could afford boxed chocolates, Harold Mackintosh set out to produce boxes of chocolates that could be more reasonably priced, and therefore more affordable for working families. 

Rather than having each piece separated in the box, which would require more costly packaging, Harold invented the world’s first twist-wrapping machine, so each chocolate was individually (and more economically) wrapped. He then put these wrapped chocolates in a metal tin, rather than a cardboard box, so that the chocolates would keep fresher, and that the smell of chocolates hit you as soon as you opened the tin. What’s more, by making the chocolates different shapes and sizes, and giving each different chocolate an identifiable coloured paper, the whole thing was a joyous, noisy, vibrant experience for everyone.

To fit in with the nostalgia craze in economically-strapped England, he created two characters, always dressed in Regency¹ period dress, known affectionately as Miss Sweetly and Major Quality. Their faces still appear on the tin.

Major Quality & Miss Sweetly on the 2016 Christmas tin

Major Quality & Miss Sweetly on the 2016 Christmas tin

Dear old Harold was rather a clever bean². Because the whole country fell in love with them.

Everyone has their favourite chocolate. The Purple One (a whole hazelnut in caramel in chocolate) is so loved that they now just make giant, individual ones. The Green One, too, has a cult following. 

Bitter arguments can break out over the last caramel one, and if someone mistakenly buys a tub of Roses chocolates instead… well, perish the thought³. 

So there is no argument here, the full list, with a useful review from both Nicer Kate and Kayte, so you know what to grab first.

  • The Purple One (hazelnut with caramel)   VERY GOOD. GOOD.
  • The Green One – chocolate green triangle (Noisette Pate) TOP 5OK IF BETTER ONES HAVE GONE
  • Chocolate Toffee Finger (gold wrapper, stick) GOOD. OK IF YOU ARE CHILD
  • Strawberry Delight (red wrapper, circular) NOBODY BUT NOBODY LIKES THESE.EXCEPT FOR MY 6-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER WHO WILL EAT ANYTHING TO DO WITH CHOCOLATE AND ME. WEIRDO
  • Caramel Swirl (yellow wrapper, circular) – MY FAVOURITE  NONE LEFT IN YOUR TIN, THOUGH.  I ATE THEM. SOZ. I NOTICED. COW
  • Milk Choc Block (green wrapper) ACCEPTABLE
  • Orange Crunch (orange wrapper, octagonal, foil) REVOLTING
  • Orange Creme (orange wrapper) ALSO REVOLTING. STOP PUTTING ORANGE IN CHOCOLATE. I AGREE
  • Coconut Eclair (blue wrapper) THIS IS VOMIT IN A WRAPPER. NO. IS LOVELY. ALSO, TOP 5. I’LL BET YOU DON’T LIKE BOUNTY EITHER?
  • Toffee Penny (gold wrapper, circular) IF THERE REALLY ISN’T ANYTHING ELSE LEFT. HUSBAND WILL EAT YOURS FOR YOU. THESE ARE HUSBAND’S FAVOURITES. THANKFULLY. I WOULD LIKE TO KEEP MY TEETH.
  • Honeycomb Crunch (golden brown wrapper) OOH! THIS IS NEW! YES. AND GOOD. 

1 – a clever bean – to be clever or ingenious

2 – Regency period – A period in English history, from around 1795 to 1837, which was noted for its distinctive trends in architecture, fashion. politics, culture and literature.

Technically, the ‘Regency’ itself only lasted from 1811-1820, when King George III was deemed unfit to rule so his son took over as ‘Prince Regent’ (a proxy ruler). The son became George IV in 1820 and continued until his death in 1837. He was succeeded by Queen Victoria. 

For a light-hearted take on the Regency, search YouTube for episodes of Black Adder The Third. 

3 – perish the thought – ‘don’t even think it’. Used informally, and often ironically, to show that you find the idea completely ridiculous. 

 (c) 2016 Kayte & Nicer Kate – authors assert moral rights
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