Happy “Responsible” Christmas: Bah, Humbug!


I’ve made no secret, over the years, of my love for Quality Street chocolates.  The ultimate Christmas sweet.  Reasonably decent candies, in spectacularly lovely foil-and-cellophane wrappings.  The ultimately beautiful bucket of decadence, beloved by generations of Brits.  You only have to look at the small image at the top of this post to understand how heartwarming and shiny they are amidst the drear of a typical British winter, made even more calamitous this year, as last, by rolling strikes among the doctors, the train drivers, and the bus drivers each timed and placed to cause as much disruption as possible to the long-suffering public.

Last December’s work stoppages also included the teachers, the ambulance drivers, the royal mail, the highway workers, the driving examiners, and the border force.  That last one, was quite embarrassing.  The border force are the folks who work airport security coming and going.  The army moved in to take over when they went on strike, and the movement and flow of passengers through the airports improved markedly.

This was 2022’s helpful BBC chart, provided to help the public keep track of when they were allowed to travel, when they could expect their mail to be delivered, when their children’s schools would be somewhat functional, and when to schedule their healthcare emergencies so as to have even the faintest hope of being transported to a facility (if the roads were open), or of finding a doctor or a nurse on duty when they got there. (Click to embiggen):

I don’t think the BBC has published such a thing this year, as–apparently–what’s going on this December in the way of what is euphemistically known in the UK as “industrial action,” is rather run-of-the-mill and nothing to write home about. Unless you want to go somewhere or need medical treatment.  Then, all bets are off.

Adding to the national air of gloom and disfavor (even without taking into account the antics of the Conservative Party and the Royal Family) is the fact that Quality Street has gone woke, and all the lovely foil and cellophane wrappings are being replaced with dull and uninteresting paper ones.

The announcement that the company was doing this came last year, in a statement on the tin that “We’re moving to recyclable wrappers.”

Further investigation revealed that Nestlé (who bought Mackintosh some years ago), wants to “eliminate two billion pieces of packaging material by 2023,”and so is on a “journey” (Aren’t we all? Hold that thought….) to introduce “recyclable wrappers” while insuring that the “DELICIOUS SWEETS” (not shouting myself, that’s a direct quote from the packaging) will remain unchanged.

I don’t care.

I want my shiny, iridescent box of Quality Street chocolates for Christmas.  It’s the only such box of sweets I buy over the course of a year.  And I buy it, as much for the wrappers–and for the memories**–as for anything else.

So there is Thing One, the thought of which got me going this morning.

Thing Two happened this afternoon:

File:ChristmasCrackers 2.jpg

There I was, working on the Christmas decorations, and it occurred to me that I was going to have to order up some Christmas crackers this year, as I only have one or two left.  Simultaneously (and at the same time) I ran across an article in the Telegraph: Christmas crackers lose their “crack”–for the sake of the environment.

The crack of a Christmas cracker sounds the start of merry making around the dining table for millions on Christmas day. But this year festivities face going off without a bang as traditional snaps are pulled from recyclable crackers…

Alliance National, one of Britain’s biggest catering suppliers, has announced it will offer only environmentally friendly “crackless” crackers to its customers, which include dozens of care homes, hotels, pubs and restaurants across the country.

The company has axed Christmas crackers with silver fulminate strips – which have been used to give the snapping sound since as early as 1860 – and now says its crackers will have “the audible crack of cardboard” instead.

Oh boy.  Christmas memories of the “audible crack of cardboard.”  I can’t wait.

Here’s the note that Alliance National has place in the boxes to explain their move:


Isn’t that sweet!  They’re on a “journey” too!!  Perhaps the folks at Alliance National could hold hands with the folks from Nestlé and they could all go off on a journey (a responsible one, of course), and leave the rest of us to celebrate the season together joyfully, and even with a little bit of silliness along the way.

According to the Telegraph article, several of the cracker makers have elected to include paper Christmas tree decorations (I’m not sure why that isn’t a microaggression) inside the crackers, but not the traditional paper hats (generally in the shape of a crown–I suppose that’s too triggering), or the traditional printed joke (I suppose there’s too much opportunity for offense to be taken there, so best not).

I’ve just ordered, from Amazon, enough crackers with the crack, and the toys, and the hats, and the jokes to last for several years.  Wish I could do the same with the chocolates and their wrappers. (I’m almost mad–in all senses of the word–enough to consider purchasing these:  900 pcs Chocolate Wrappers–Aluminum Foil Wraps for Candies (you can buy cellophane too), and re-wrapping the things myself to achieve the desired effect.)

I wonder what little bit of Christmas magic will be removed from the table next.

**My Quality Street memories are legion.  (I’m so old, I can just about remember when “the purple ones” had a Brazil nut in the center.) My family always sent us a box of Quality Street at Christmas when we were in Nigeria. My mother always had a tin for me to bring back with me to the US, every time I visited the UK.  My dogs once ate an entire tub of them, wrappers and all, and then happily (and colorfully) pooped the wrappers out all over the farm, for days on end.  Fun times.

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  1. Percival Thatcher

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