There have been many songs written about candy. Artists across music genres, from Dolly Parton to Fifty Cent, have written ditties about sweet treats. The year I was born, Sammy Davis Jr.’s The Candy Man reached the top of the charts and became a theme song in the quintessential movie about candy, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. But, no other song has as much candy history embedded in its lyrics as the song Savoy Truffle by the Beatles. It’s on their most beloved album, the 1968 White Album, but because it’s near the end of the album, it’s often forgotten.
The song was written by George Harrison, inspired by his friend Eric Clapton’s penchant for chocolate truffles from Mackintosh’s Good News chocolates, an actual candy store in Halifax, United Kingdom. The song lyrics talk about various flavors of their truffles and warns his mate, Clapton, about the detrimental affect all that chocolate would have on his teeth. Harrison, as a practitioner of Eastern spirituality, in an a al carte fashion, thought tooth decay was a sign of deeper moral decay.
A box of Macintosh’s Good News Chocolates was a popular gift in 1960s UK. It would be like getting a box of Aglamesis assorted or Esther Price’s chocolates here in Cincinnati. There were 11 flavors of truffles in a box in 1968 when the song was written. Each truffle’s name sort of reveals what flavor it hides inside, except for the Savoy Truffle. After much searching – since these flavors are no longer available – it seems the Savoy Truffle is a flavor something like an Almond Joy candy bar.
The song opens with two flavors, “Cream Tangerine and Montelimar.” Both were authentic chocolate flavors of Mackintosh’s, but cherry cream, coconut fudge, and pineapple heart, were creations of Harrison’s. Montelimar is a type of honey, almond and pistachio chewy nougat from the Provence region of France. It would be like Doshers adding nuts to their French Chew and then covering it in chocolate. Ginger Sling and Coffee Dessert were other authentic flavors mentioned in the song. But why did Harrison save the diamond shaped, milk chocolate Savoy Truffle as the one that would cause all Clapton’s teeth to be pulled?
The mysterious Savoy Truffle, apparently was always the prized truffle, of all the 11 flavors. But the 1960s were a time of new flavors clashing with old ones. It was a time when family owned businesses like Mackintosh & Sons, were diving into conglomerate mergers and corporate take-overs – essentially the Nestle globalization of the UK.
Mackintosh’s was founded in 1890 by husband and wife team John “The Toffee King,” and Violet Mackintosh. They were originally popular for their toffee, which was their own recipe fusing English butterscotch and American caramel, and gave Halifax the moniker of “Toffee Town.” John ran the company until his death in 1920, after which his son, Harold, took over. The company would go on to invent the Rolo (1937) and the Toffee Crisp (1963) candies. After several acquisitions, the company has been owned by Nestle since 1988.