Dispatches from Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco

'What's old is new': BT McElrath brings back handmade toffee after 20-year hiatus

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

BT McElrath's hand-made toffee to be sold in Whole Foods stores across the US
BT McElrath's hand-made toffee to be sold in Whole Foods stores across the US

Related tags Candy Marketing Confectionery

BT McElrath has relaunched its all-natural toasted almond toffee product at the Winter Fancy Food Show this year 20 years later after it was pulled. 

The Minneapolis-based chocolate company said the launch followed the trend for “what’s old is new”.

BT McElrath was sold to Annie B’s, a caramel and popcorn maker, in October, according to Annie B’s VP of sales, Tore Swenson.

“BT McElrath had the toffee product 20 years ago, and it was the number one selling product ​[of its kind] in the country. After they got into candy bars, they stopped selling the toffee,”​ Swenson said.

Toffee is still trending

When the two companies merged, Annie B’s wanted to bring back BT's vintage product , because toffee is still popular today, Swenson said.

“The interesting thing about our toffee is when it was developed 20 years ago, it was all natural without any artificial colors or preservatives, and it was way before its time,”​ she said.

“[Toffee made with natural ingredients] is still on trend when we launch it now.”

Combining manufacturing facilities

One of the strategic priorities for Annie B’s this year is to combine the two companies’ production facilities together to strengthen production, as well as helping develop new products, according to Swenson.

“We have two different manufacturing facilities right now,”​ she said. “We got caramel, popcorn and now, chocolate. The innovation possibilities are endless.”

Swenson added Annie B’s/BT want to make the best use of their combining facilities in the future to create new categories in the confectionery industry.

So far, the two companies are still looking for a new location to merge the facilities, Swenson said.

Different experience than big companies

Compared to big confectionery companies, BT’s products are not mass produced, and their flavors and ingredients, including butter and almond are all natural, Swenson said.

“Toffee is not a very gender specific product. It’s appealing to both male and female,”​ she said. “Almond toffee is old fashion and it reminds people of their grandmothers cooking at home… so the experience is much more different than big companies, like Hershey.”

BT’s toffee will be sold at Whole Foods across the country in the next few months.  The company is currently working with two specialty food distributors: California-based Bayside Food, and Minneapolis-based Classic Provisions.

“I prefer specialty food distributors than big distributors, because we’ll get more attention to our brand and product line,” ​Swenson said.

However, BT’s Toffee only has limited exports

“We export [the toffee] to the UK, but there is only a small amount,”​ she said. “We want to continue focusing on the US market fore and foremost.”

Annie B’s/BT’s almond toffee will sell at $8 per bag (4.0 oz/113 g).

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