The Beginning

"I spent the first six years, buying experience, cutting my wisdom teeth, and putting back into the business every penny I made. The one great danger in a fast growing business is that of shortage of capital for although one can usually get all the capital one requires after a business has succeeded, few can get it when it would seem most useful, at the beginning.

John Mackintosh

n 1890 a sack of sugar, a tub of butter and a few pastries were the capital with which John Mackintosh began a local business which grew to become a worldwide phenomenon, whilst Violet Mackintosh, his wife, invented modern toffee, here in Halifax. Their Pastry-cook's shop in King Cross Lane was opened a few days after their marriage, and their small joint savings were put into this new venture. After the first few months of business John Mackintosh was looking for something unique to attract customers into the Pastry-cook shop. He had already worked out that Saturdays were the busiest days and Fridays were therefore spent with staff preparing meat pies, fruit pies, Madeira cakes, Eccles cakes, sponge loaves and other pastries. However, there still seemed something missing; something that is now called a USP, or unique selling point. John Mackintosh toyed with the idea of introducing one product, so different than everything else they had on show. At this time English toffee was generally hard and brittle whereas its American counterpart was soft and chewy. Violet began blending the two together finally coming up with what would become know as Mackintosh's Celebrated Toffee. The first supply of the toffee was boiled by Violet in a brass pan over the kitchen fire. In those days it took an hour to boil and cool ten pounds of toffeeAn advertisement was placed in the local Press inviting the public of Halifax to come and try the toffee for free. That Saturday they sold out and so on the Monday morning another advertisement ran that said

"On Saturday last, you were eating Mackintosh's Toffee at our expense; NEXT SATURDAY pay us another visit and eat it at your own expense."

That Saturday there was the largest display of toffee ever seen in the town. Around it were the pies and the cakes, the cheese tarts and the Eccles cakes but none of these items meant a thing compared to this golden caramel mountain. Money from the sale of the toffee was kept separate from the other food and in time receipts for the toffee amounted to more than all the rest put together. Then the great British public re-christened the shop and from that day it became know locally as the Toffee Shop.

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