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An Investigation: Which Is the Best Quality Street in the Quality Street Tub?

The argument you never thought you cared about, finally solved.

CONTENDERS, ARE YOU READY (Photos by the author, but assisted by Max Brokman)

Hello and welcome to a new feature I like to call:


A lot of people say to me – "Joel," they say, "the internet does not have enough lists." Reluctantly, I agree. Who wants to read things, right? Who wants paragraphs that run into one another? Sometimes – especially with Christmas on the horizon, and let's be honest: from this Friday onwards, nobody in any office in the UK is going to do any work, are they, and that most especially includes me, with my lists – we need lists. Nice blocky subheadings. Absurd opinions. Glossy photography. Lists! We all love lists.


So now we have established what a list is we need to determine some parameters for a scientific ranking of the best to worst Quality Street chocolates. Why are we ranking Quality Street chocolates? Because it's Christmas soon and I Have Had Enough. What, for example, is the toffee fucking penny still doing in there? What on this sweet earth is the "Honeycomb Crunch"? And why-o-why do we still swivel on our heels and pray blindly to the false god of The Purple One, the most overrated chocolate on the planet? We all know the contents of the Quality Street tin. We all have a favourite and a least favourite. But this country's so-called experts have never sat down and figured out the best one, so the task once again falls to me.

First, though, we need to consider what makes for a good Christmas time celebration tub, family share-sized, individually-wrapped chocolate, and I have come up with four rough guidelines for that:

Is it easy to unwrap?
Some of the foil-wrapped chocolates – I am looking at you, Orange Chocolate Crunch – actually take quite a lot of two-handed, thumb-centric picking to pry open, and though the payoff is you can ball the foil up into a small ball and throw it at your brother and/or sister to assert sibling dominance, it is a massive faff compared to, say, the Toffee Finger, which you can do one-handed if you bite the knot at one end of the finger and untwist the opposite side with your hand 1.

Do they sell big versions of the chocolate year-round?
If this is a year-round chocolate compared to a festive Christmas chocolate then I'm sorry, it can't be the best in the tub. Beyond the first few days of January, when maybe you take a pocketful of Christmas treats with you as you get the train back to work, there is no time when you can envision yourself eating, say, a Caramel Swirl. It would just be wrong: like eating a Magnum on Christmas day, or sinking mulled wine in April. But those egotists at Nestle think both The Purple One and The Green Triangle are worth year-round consumption, blowing them up to enormous proportions and selling them as you would a chocolate bar. I've just— I've just had enough of this nonsense. I've had enough. Christmas sweets are for Christmas. Stop pissing in the Christmas lake.

Does your consumption of the chocolate cause a massive family squabble?
Unless someone gets mad at you for eating the chocolate because they felt they had unsaid dibs upon it – often, in families, the Quality Street tin divides into ley lines which other family members cannot cross: mum wants you to save her a Strawberry Creme; your brother wants all the Fudge; your sister has a thing for the Toffee Penny, so, frankly, let her; your dad will take "whatever's going" but secretly covets the Coconut Eclair – then there is no point eating the chocolate. This is why the Milk Choc Block will not win this. Nobody's favourite is the Milk Choc Block. Your dad isn't going to go for a big angry Boxing Day drive to Esso because you ate a Milk Choc Block.

Is the chocolate delicious and puts you in a festive mood and can you eat them not by the one, or by the dozen, but by the handful, such a vague and clumsy unit of measurement but you can't stop, you just keep putting them into your body until it will burst, a big hot clump of discarded wrappers next to you on the sofa, by your thigh, pressed into a sort of loose shapeless lump?
This one is what's known in the list biz as "self explanatory".


I feel like we are ready now to line up the Quality Streets and rank them. Worst to burst. Once and for all, remember. This one counts.


The Green Triangle is a shit chocolate and I've had enough of it. It has no place in the Quality Street yuletide celebration share-sized tub. It tastes like something between "extremely shitty supermarket rum" and "a nut". The praline is the consistency of sludge and the chocolate melts down to nothing when you bite it. Often I stay awake late at night and think: Who is it, who is eating The Green Triangle out of the Quality Street yuletide celebration tub? Who did they market research – saying things such as "I like The Green Triangle" and "Green Triangle? Good chocolate, imo" – before manufacturing chocolate bar-sized versions of it for general retail?

Essentially: whose bad idea was The Green Triangle, and why does it persist? Who is it for? I am convinced there is something going on with The Green Triangle. That it is only there to make up weight. That Nestle know people don't eat it but it's still there. Is it the cheapest to manufacture? Is The Green Triangle a tax dodge? Did John Quality-Street, the inventor of Quality Street, command its infinite inclusion on his deathbed? Why? Why, why, why? Why?


If you say the Milk Choc Block is your favourite Quality Street – to me, out loud, with your mouth – I will punch you in the face. 'Hmm,' you think. 'Yes: I would like a large, slightly-too-big-to-neatly-bite, stiff block of sub-adequate chocolate, thank you. Merry Christmas, me.' No.



I understand that some people like toffee, and for them may I recommend the Toffee Finger, because the Toffee Penny is an abomination: often squashed and melted then remelted again in its own wrapper, so it comes out all contorted and wrinkled and fucked up, plus the toffee itself is a slightly wrong consistency – one or two notches too chewy, not enough caramel élan – so essentially when you consent to eating a Toffee Penny you are basically just rendering your mouth dysfunctional for upwards of five minutes. Plus, you're going to need a toothpick afterwards to get it all out. Eating Christmas chocolates shouldn't be a chore. I shouldn't have to work so hard to enjoy you, Toffee Penny.


Fruit-centred chocolate is the work of the devil himself, and the Orange Creme is the worst of them all. "Oh," the Orange Creme says. "You like a Terry's Chocolate Orange, do you? What if it was that flavour, but intensified a thousand degrees, blended with a saccharine sugar creme and wrapped in dark shit chocolate that immediately collapses and goes all soft when you bite it?" How about: no! No thanks!


Anyone who chooses the Strawberry Delight from a full tub of Quality Street – i.e. when every other option is present and correct – is, sadly, a psychopath who needs to be locked away for their own safety and the safety of others. A real "27th of December"


The Honeycomb Crunch is the new Quality Street, and it is my sad duty to report that it is entirely anonymous and pointless. I just sat here and ate it. In silence. Alone. It didn't feel very Christmassy, eating a Quality Street, for content, in the middle of a quiet office. Just me, alone against the Quality Street. A mighty warrior in the face of content.


I am fatigued, lads, if I'm honest. You don't realise it, when they're all in the tub there, jumbled up, but at least 50 percent of Quality Street chocolates are at best mediocre and at worst lean right the way through to being shit. Here I am, chewing a Honeycomb Crunch, thinking: they developed this, in a lab. Like: this went through taste tests, tests then more tests, entire panels of people. They replaced the Toffee Deluxe with this, for god's sake. And for what? What?

I suppose the thing is that Christmas isn't magic any more, like it used to be. Christmas was great when I was a kid – everything in technicolour, the excitement, the thrill, the deep and honest belief in Santa, the months spent hoping and praying you would get the present you wanted and then: boom, you got it; the animated movies, the late bedtimes, the merriment, the fun. Now when people ask me what I want for Christmas I legitimately just say "towels". I need some new towels. This year I asked for a dressing gown. If you got me a small gift box of hot sauce and some chocolate coins, I'd probably be happy. Christmas used to be waking up rigid-eyed at 6AM with a stocking at the bottom of my bed, then running desperately around a room full of presents, breathless, tearing them open; trying a new bike out on frost-strewn streets; a full creaking table of food; sitting cross-legged by the fire. Now Christmas is finding five minutes to stand outside and drink a single warm bottle of Peroni just to get a few moments to breath. Now it's a sort of frantic hell of other people. Now it is just me, alone, in the office, eating a Honeycomb Crunch and wishing for the past instead of the future.


Anyway: we're halfway through our list!


Saying you like The Purple One is like saying Ronaldo is your favourite footballer: great component parts, sure, and a fine enough whole, but it's a very obvious choice. It's not the artist's choice. You can squabble over The Purple One amongst yourselves, because I'm two or three chocolate levels ahead of you.


What, truly, is the difference between the Caramel Swirl (good) and The Purple One (bad)? Well: The Purple One is shaped like a human eye, which nobody seems to mention. Hazelnut pupil. Chocolate embossed eyelashes. Sick. Also: the chocolate-caramel ratio is slightly out. But otherwise, it's essentially the same chocolate. What is it that makes the Caramel Swirl so superior? Is it the barrel-like shape? I think, you know, it might be the barrel-like shape. This is the first actively good Quality Street chocolate.

INTERLUDE: I have been sat next to a tub of Quality Street for over two hours now! It smells appalling! Sort of sour! I don't think I will ever eat one again after this piece!


The Fudge is just a great consistency and is a solid addition to what I call "The Christmas Handful" 2.


A lot of people go fucking buck wild for the Toffee Finger, and I think I know why: psychologically, it tickles the same neurons in the brain as getting the long four-piecer on Tetris does. You know when that tetromino comes down the shoot that you are in for a party. You know when someone breaks a Toffee Finger out that it is Christmas time. The Toffee Finger says: yuletide, jingling bells, snowballs. It says: family, turkey, warm good times. It says: fucking hell, Steven, did you eat all of the Toffee Fingers? There were seven of them in there! They weren't all for you, you know!


INTERLUDE: Do you know if you turn the tub of Quality Street over – it used to be a tin, didn't it, which was better, but I think they changed it to a plastic tub for two reasons. One, primarily, was that plastic is cheaper than tin. But the second, more important reason, is if you give a tin to a nan she will instantly put sewing equipment in it, but not label that tin in any way beyond that. So I think Quality Street were sick of getting associated with nans sewing – entire generations of children irreparably damaged by thinking they'd found a secret stash of chocolates but instead just finding old dry threads and yellowing packets of needles – and didn't want anything to do with it any more, because Nans Don't Like Tubs. Anyway, if you turn the tub over it has a list of ingredients present in Quality Street, and let me tell you: do not do this thing. It's basically a thousand different types of sugar and a warning that one serving consists of two Quality Street. TWO! TWO QUALITY STREET. I HAVE EATEN FIVE ADULT SERVINGS IN THE COURSE OF MAKING THIS LIST.


The Orange Chocolate Crunch is good because it straddles the delicate bridge between "fruit-flavoured" and "crunchy", which is rare in a chocolate. I also quite like that it is stout and flat, like a crab. There is nothing bad about the Orange Chocolate Crunch. Sure, it may not be as flashy and show off-y as your Purple Ones, your Toffee Fingers, but it has a quiet dignity to it: like an old man crying a single tear at a war memorial.



The Coconut Eclair is the best Quality Street, and let me explain why: perfect biteable texture (you can eat these by the handful); niche enough to start a family argument when you eat the last one; no way you would eat one outside of the confines of Christmas; easy to pull open with that one-handed fat-lad method I explained earlier. According to every metric, the Coconut Eclair is the perfect chocolate, plus:

– It actually tastes like the flavour it is meant to taste like, and not some sugary approximate (I AM LOOKING AT YOU, ORANGE CREME);

– If you like to hold Quality Street wrappers up to your eyes and pretend you are beneath a stained-glass window then you are going to need a blue wrapper; blue is so vital for that;

– Solid, dependable, rectangular shape; and, crucially:

– It is my favourite.

So there we go. Incontrovertible proof that the Coconut Eclair is the greatest Quality Street chocolate going. No arguments, no disambiguation. All other opinions are invalid. Thank you for your time.


1. I like to litter little hints that I used to be fantastically obese into my copy sometimes. See if you can spot one today↩

2. Although sounding like an awkward and illegal sex move, "The Christmas Handful" is actually the handful of food you take from the side while you graze your way through Christmas Day, before dinner is ready. So we're talking: three or four cherry-picked Quality Street, maybe a few pistachios and a mince pie, all held upright in a claw-like hand and carried through onto the sofa for eating. The Christmas Handful. Try saying it at home. See what people do.

More stuff about… actually, honestly, it's hard to do related content for this one. Here are some articles on VICE that include the phrase "Quality Street":

Here Are All the Things You're Going to Have to Do In December

Celebrations, Roses, Quality Street, or Miniature Heroes? I Ate Every Chocolate in Four Selection Tins

Analysing Eamonn Holmes' Mid-to-Late Life Crisis