I know chocolate is a big deal at Christmas. But it takes staggering numbers, such as Nestlé's Halifax factory churning out around 12 million Quality Street sweets EACH DAY during its peak season, to realise the sheer scale of it all.
The 83-year-old brand is still going strong and is a family Christmas staple. A tub - or a 'nostalgic' tin - is almost as festive as the Christmas tree itself.
This year the packaging has had a colourful refresh. The signature purple colour dominates, but the packaging now draws upon the colours of the sweets contained within.
Over the years the tub size has steadily reduced, and this year the standard purple plastic tub weighs in at 650g, down from last year's 720g reports The Guardian.
Another change is that they've ditched a classic favourite. The brown foiled Toffee Deluxe - one of the original flavours dating back to 1936 - was ditched in 2016 in favour of yellow-wrapped Honeycomb Crunch, only to return a year later. Now, Nestlé are having another go by replacing it with the "limited edition" Chocolate Caramel Brownie. In essence, the pale blue clad sweet appears to be a chocolate shell filled with a chocolate flavour caramel, although I'm not sure the recipe has seen an actual chocolate brownie.
Whether it will remain in the 2020 selection is yet to be seen, but the Honeycomb Crunch didn't last long, and fans angry at the removal of the Toffee Deluxe were vocal last time around.
That's not the only change though. Nestlé's research shows that the public generally believes there are too many toffees in the tubs, and I'd agree. I asked Matt at Nestlé whether I'll find more Green Triangles this year. He told me that Quality Street sweets broadly segment into three categories – chocolate, toffees and fudges, and fruit cremes. This year the ratio of 'chocolates' (like Green Triangles, the Purple One, and the new Chocolate Caramel Brownie) has increased from 34% last year to 46% this year. So, I reckon I'll find around the same ratio of Green Triangles as last year, a heap of the new Caramel Brownies, but happily fewer toffees.
A multitude of pack-sizes are available for 2019, with some products available exclusively at certain retailers. I've spotted Quality Street 240g cartons, Quality Street pouches in 435g and 450g, plastic Quality Street tubs in 650g, and metal Quality Street tins in 900g (exclusive to Tesco), 1kg, and 2kg (exclusive to Costco). This means working out the best value option is incredibly tricky. Right now, Tesco has 650g tubs on offer at £3.50, equating to £5.38/kg, which is the best value for money I've found so far.
My dream is to find a tin filled solely with Green Triangles, but the chances of this are incredibly tiny (note to self - check for saviours on eBay).
While a tub of Green Triangles sadly isn't a thing, Nestlé do have a range of themed cartons and tubs available this year. The Quality Street Toffee & Fudge carton and the Quality Street Fruit Cremes carton both weigh in at 240g. There's a tub just of the Purple Ones at 350g, a tub of the Strawberry Delights at 385g, and this year, there's a 280g tub of the new Caramel Chocolate Brownie sweets exclusively available to Asda.
Let's not forget the run-up to Christmas either. The 229g Quality Street Advent Calendar features the same design that appears on the tubs and tins and contains a selection of Quality Street sweets.
Believe it or not, Quality Street sweets are still produced in Halifax where it all started back in 1936 (it was originally developed by Mackintosh’s of Yorkshire). Nestlé has invested in new technology at its West Yorkshire factory to wrap Quality Street sweets in a "more advanced and modern way" .
With figures like 12 million sweets being produced every single day during the seasonal peak, one can only imagine the quantity of waste generated as a result. Happily, Matt at Nestlé confirmed to me that the tubs and tins are recyclable (although often get reused first as sewing kits, first aid kits, biscuit tubs, as well as storage for screws and stationery).
The foil wrappers are recyclable, but I didn't realise the cellophane wrappers are compostable. These are often reused in arts and crafts projects first, though. Check out SweetArt Simon Dry who upcycles Quality Street wrappers into magnificent works of art.
A £2 million advertising campaign starts now and will run right up to Christmas. And remember the personalised Quality Street tins from last year, well Nestlé plans to do something similar again this year. I'll bring you full details as soon as I hear of them.
How do you reuse your tin or tub of Quality Street, and do you upcycle your wrappers? Let me know in the comments below.