Mackintosh’s is a British golden Toffee with caramel flavour, made by Rowntree-Mackintosh.
It is soft enough to be chewy, but hard enough to still be breakable.
In New Zealand, it is sold by Allen’s. It is also popular in Canada, so much so that many Canadians are surprised to find out it’s not Canadian.
It’s not easily found in the States.
The company also makes Quality Street candies.
Mackintosh’s Toffee was invented in 1890 by John Mackintosh in Halifax, Yorkshire, England. He wanted it to be halfway between English toffee (hard) and American caramels (soft.)
Mackintosh was born in 1868 in Dukinfield, Cheshire. His father was Joseph Mackintosh (died 1891); his mother’s name was Mary. His parents had 8 children, John was the oldest.
When John was a few months old, his family moved to the King Cross area of Halifax. When he was 10 years old, John started working in the clothing mills. Later, he got a job spinning cotton at the Bowman Brothers factory, where his brother was already a manager.
On 29 September 1890, John married Violet Taylor, the daughter of James Taylor, who was a carpet weaver in Halifax. They were Methodists. The couple would have three sons, Harold Vincent, Douglas, and Eric, of whom the oldest was Harold Vincent . Violet had trained as a cook. They opened a pastry shop in Halifax on King Cross Road.
John and Violet wanted a unique candy to sell to their customers, particularly for the Saturday afternoon crowd (now that people had Saturday’s off and were strolling about.) It was actually Violet who came up with the toffee, and made it regularly in the back of the shop.
- 1894 – John acquired a warehouse in Bond Street;
- 1895 – He formed John Mackintosh Ltd;
- 1898 – John needed a proper factory to keep up with the demand for all their candies, and so built the red-brick Mackintosh’s Chocolate Works, half of which is still extant, though used as a wholesale store (as of 2006);
- 1917 – John advertised the toffee as being good for sore throats;
- 1920 – John dies at home of a heart attack. He was buried at All Saints’ Church, Salterhebble;
- 1936 – The firm creates the Quality Street selection tins;
- World War II – Harold Vincent becomes Chairman of the National Savings Committee;
- 1969 – Mackintosh’s merges with and becomes Rowntree-Mackintosh;
- 1988 – In June, Nestlé acquires Rowntree-Mackintosh for £2.55 billion pounds.
 Harold Vincent (1891-1964) became Lord Mackintosh of Halifax in 1957.
Literature & Lore
“Roses remain red. Violets stay blue. Sugar is still sweet, and so are you, even if dear Valentine’s gone to the wars. But hush! No tender sentiments, mind you, no lace-edged hearts for soldier Joe. It is edible sweetness in a mannish box that will make you his queen of hearts, his sugar pie. B. Altman’s, Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, have the very Valentine — a box of Mackintosh toffee—masculine as pipe and tweeds. This is the English toffee of John Mackintosh and Sons, Ltd., famous the world over. But it’s a toffee made in America—made in Ireland, too, in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, all by one formula coming from the mother factory at Halifax, England. It is made in the countries where sold rather than being imported, because toffee is its best only when fresh. The candy “grains” with age, and the smooth, rich flavor, which is at once toffee’s characteristic and charm, is lost.
The C. N. Miller Co. of Boston, which holds the exclusive rights in the United States to make and sell this candy, is equipped by the English firm with toffee-making machinery exactly like that used in the Halifax plant. The toffee produced is as smooth as silk to the tongue, with nothing of the harsh, grainy structure of cheaper toffees and caramels. The flavors are assorted, delicate without being strong. Each piece is individually wrapped, the 1-pound box selling for 60 cents. There are more expensive assortments, too, if you wish.” — Paddleford, Clementine (1898 – 1967). Food Flashes Column. Gourmet Magazine. February 1944.