Who Invented Toffee? (Invention Timeline Explained)

Aren’t you curious about who invented toffee? This traditional confection is produced with sugar, butter, and water and is boiled to let the sugar caramelize. Manufacturers use the pulling method to make softer toffees while others pour them into trays to produce harder ones. Afterward, the toffees are cut into bite sizes.

Toffee’s history is as mystical as what makes it so delicious. If you want to know who invented toffee first, read on, as this post will tackle the answer.

Who invented toffee?

The British people, mainly from Wales, United Kingdom, produced the earliest toffee. According to most food historians, the British first popularized this confection because butter was plentiful in England.

Toffee key contributors

  • Britons
    First people to make toffee

    The earliest toffee was made by the Britons, or British people, especially those from Wales in the United Kingdom. Most food historians believe that the Brits popularized this candy because butter was widely available in England.

  • John Mackintosh
    Who opened the oldest toffee manufacturer existing today

    John Mackintosh opened his sweet shop in Halifax, Yorkshire, England. Soon after, the idea for Mackintosh’s Toffee, which was neither too hard nor too soft, came.

  • Carl Gustaf Patrik de Laval
    Made butter production faster

    He is a Swedish engineer who introduced the centrifugal cream separator. Since the manufacturing of butter was hand-made until the 19th century, his invention improved and sped up the production of butter, an essential ingredient of toffee.

  • The Caribbean
    Producers that made sugar more affordable

    According to several sources, the Caribbean’s cheap slave labor in the early 19th century contributed to the decline in the price of treacle and molasses in general. Treacle is a molasses-based golden syrup popular in the UK for baking and candy production.This contribution has a huge impact in the history of toffee since treacle and sugar are utilized to produce English toffee.

  • Rowntree & Nestlé
    Companies that partnered with Mackintosh’s Toffee

    Rowntree Mackintosh, which later merged with Nestlé, was created by the merger of Mackintosh and competitor Rowntree. The merger significantly helped the oldest manufacturer of toffee operate until today.

When was toffee invented?

Food historians believe that toffee was invented on or before the 18th century. It’s because this period is when the Britons, particularly the people in Wales, United Kingdoms, made this traditional confectioner famous.

A brief history of toffee

Toffee isn’t an ancient food, but it’s a traditional confectioner in England. It became famous in the 18th century, and most food historians say it was likely invented in Wales, United Kingdom, because of the abundance of butter in this place. Butter is among the primary ingredients for making toffee and sugar.

In 1825, the word “toffee” was first written in the Oxford English Dictionary. It suggests that the word has been in use for a while. Toffee made its way across the Atlantic at some point. However, there isn’t enough information on when this happened.

Several decades later, John Mackintosh launched his sweet shop in Halifax, Yorkshire, England, in 1890. Later, Mackintosh’s Toffee was produced, which was neither too hard nor too soft.

The company then merged with Rowntree in 1969. Rowntree is Mackintosh’s rival, and the merger formed Rowntree Mackintosh. In 1988, the merged company also merged with Nestlé.

It was in the 19th century that butter and sugar became easily available due to their affordable prices. Since these two are the significant ingredients of toffee, the production of this confectioner sped up.

Toffee timeline

  1. 18th century
    Toffee became popular in the UK

    During this period, toffee became a sensation in Northern Europe, notably the United Kingdom.

  2. 1825
    First mention of the word “toffee” in the Oxford English Dictionary

    It was the time when the term “toffee” first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary.

  3. 1890
    Oldest toffee manufacturer

    John Mackintosh opened the doors of his sweets shop in Halifax, Yorkshire, England, this year. Mackintosh’s Toffee is the oldest toffee product sold up to this date.

  4. 19th century
    Production of more toffee

    Molasses and sugar became cheaper during this period, and among the main reasons was the Caribbean’s cheap slave labor. These two are directly involved in the production of toffee, which allows manufacturers in the UK to produce more toffee.

Where was toffee invented?

In Wales, United Kingdom, toffee first became popular. For this reason, food historians believe that this was the place where toffee was invented.

Why do people love toffee?

  • It’s so comforting

    People love toffee because eating them provides comfort. They give a feeling of reward, mainly because toffee is a sweet that helps release endorphins. These hormones help to lift your spirits and make you feel relaxed, calm, and at ease.

  • Helps brain boost

    Toffee includes sugar, which positively affects the brain. Even a tiny amount of sugar can help boost brain function and focus. It means eating toffee helps you effectively complete your tasks.

  • It’s quite healthy

    Toffee has a low cholesterol content. It is an ideal dessert for those at risk of cardiovascular disease. It also has a low trans and saturated fat content, which aids in preventing coronary heart disease.Medical professionals recommend caramelized confection to those who want to reach and maintain healthy body weight. Unlike other types of candy, toffee has less sugar. It reduces insulin resistance that contributes to obesity. Also, it helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes weight loss, and lowers the risk of developing diabetes.

Toffee by the numbers

  • 140 and 154Toffee is a mixture of milk, sugar, cream, or butter and an ingredient like golden syrup or lemon juice to prevent it from crystallizing.The mixture was then heated to temperatures ranging from 140°C to 154°C (these stages are ‘soft crack’ and ‘hard crack’), then left to cool down and set.
  • 1890It is the year when the oldest toffee manufacturer, running to this day, first opened its doors. Johan Mackintosh launched his sweet shop in the market town of Halifax, Yorkshire, England. Later, the shop sold Mackintosh’s Toffee, which became popular in Northern Europe.
  • 2,940 On September 17, 2002, the 2,940 lbs. toffee was made in Midland, Texas. It is a masterpiece of Susie’s South Forty Confections, Inc.
  • 8The National English Toffee Day is observed on January 8, which happens every year. This event celebrates the richness of English toffee, the US variant of the traditional toffee.
  • 2,000The most expensive toffee product costs £2,000. It is the toffee apple made by a Scots chef as a part of a Christmas pudding for millionaires.The grandiose 24-carat gold leaf coated apple is adorned with gold flakes and powder throughout the caramel coating.

Five facts about toffee

  • Toffee smells so comforting

    The smell of toffee is enough to make you feel comforted. Toffee also smells sweet and sugary with a caramel note.

  • Toffee is not taffy

    Don’t be confused with these two. Toffee is made by boiling treacle or sugar with milk or butter. Afterward, it will be left to cool, becoming hard. Meanwhile, taffy is a soft, chewy candy made from boiling brown sugar or molasses.

  • Toffee is different from caramel

    Caramel is also different from toffee as it is made of cream or milk, sugar, and water. Meanwhile, toffee is made with butter and sugar.The cooking temperatures for these two are also different. While caramel is cooked at the end of the cooking stage of sugar called “firm ball,” which is up to 248° F, toffee is cooled at the “hard crack” stage up to 300° F.

  • Rum as a toffee preservative

    It is said that a rum called Tafia was used in the earliest toffee recipes to add a popular flavor and as a preservative. The toffee will have a longer shelf life if it includes sugar or molasses, butter, and rum.

  • English toffee is also called buttercrunch

    There’s a huge difference between the traditional toffee and buttercrunch, yet the latter is called English toffee. Why? It’s because the name is more marketable in the US than buttercrunch.While traditional toffee is made of brown sugar, English toffee uses granulated sugar. Not only that, but English toffee also includes nuts that are not present in traditional toffee.

Toffee invention FAQ

  • Is toffee like coffee?

    No. Toffee and coffee are different, even the taste. Toffee is a confectioner or candy that smells and tastes like caramel, made of boiling sugar or treacle with milk or butter. On the other hand, coffee is a beverage made by steeping ground coffee beans in hot or cold water.

  • Is butterscotch the same as toffee?

    No. Butterscotch is made by heating a butter and brown sugar mixture to a soft-crack stage, whereas toffee is made by heating the same butter and brown sugar mixture to a hard-crack stage. Toffee is brittle and easily broken, whereas butterscotch is chewy and pliable.

  • What’s the difference between toffee and English toffee?

    Toffee is hard, sweet candy, while English toffee is also called buttercrunch, which has nuts, usually almonds.

  • Is toffee vegan?

    Not all toffee is vegan. But, you can make vegan toffee by using vegan butter instead of regular butter.

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