Toxic Toffee

Toxic+Toffee

Matthew Fortin

Move over Tinder, Christian Mingle and eHarmony; there’s a new dating app in town, and it’s causing a stir. Thing is, signing up requires more than just a bio and profile picture– you’ll also need to break out your prep school diploma.

Toffee is one of the latest dating apps to hit the App Store– and by far one of the most controversial. Developed in England and launched there in the spring, it has been adopted by thousand of users and is expanding to Australia come November. And since arriving on smartphone screens earlier this year, people have been buzzing.

What makes Toffee so different is the strict criteria behind gaining access to its pool of suitors. All users must be an alumnus of a private school, creating a user base of only the privately educated.

As to how the app knows how users actually went to a private school, Toffee employees perform a manual vetting process– essentially scanning the applicant’s social media presence for evidence they went to a private institution. 

Applicants are typically approved or denied within a 30 hour period after initially signing up. Once getting the green light (and signing up for a $4.99 monthly subscription) users can go ahead and swipe left or right on their next potential date.

That requirement is drawing a lot of criticism, with many asserting that Toffee is encouraging an elitist dating scene, one where only those in similar social classes are able to mingle and pair off. 

Quinnipiac students sounded off on the new app’s potential complications, many citing Toffee’s exclusionary tendencies as unacceptable.

“I mean it’s kind of discriminatory,” junior nursing major Kyle Dinein said. “Some people don’t have access to private school… allowing people who had the privilege of going to private school to do this kind of shows that it’s selective in a wrong way.”

Meanwhile, senior communications major Nick Cotharin pointed to other platforms’ established popularity as a major obstacle for Toffee to overcome.

“I think a lot of people already use Tinder and stuff like that,” Cotharin said. “So I feel like nobody would really be interested in it because Tinder is probably something they know already. Think about how many people use Tinder. I probably wouldn’t use it. I had no idea what it is.” 

Junior economics major Ben Veglas says that dating apps in general simply aren’t a good idea when looking for that special someone.

“You’re hiding behind a screen,” Veglas said. “If you really want to get to know someone, meet up with them face to face. I generally don’t think it’s great to meet people behind a screen.

In response to the widely held elitism critique, app execs maintain that their service is not unlike other dating sites that base their users on certain niche interests. Toffee bosses point to JSwipe– an exclusively Jewish dating app, or Hater for singles who love sarcasm.

As for that argument, Dinein offers a quick rebuttal.

“You don’t necessarily have to be privileged to be Christian,” Dinein rebuked. “It’s different than a religion.”

Toffee founder Lydia Davis said in an interview earlier this year with “The Telegraph” that the goal of the app is not “to promote snobbery or social division, it’s to help people meet and fall in love. That’s been my mission for the past five years.”

Davis continued by explaining that her app was designed to “connect like-minded people” and “break down barriers” when it comes to finding lasting love.

A quick scan of Toffee’s latest numbers show a promising outlook for the company. The app has already garnered an impressive 12,000 users in its native United Kingdom.

In the age of the smartphone, Toffee is certainly not the only dating app catering to a particular niche. In fact, there are dozens of options when it comes to digital matchmaking– many of them equally eccentric.

There’s Do I Date, which generates Yelp-looking review pages for users where past dates rate their experience, either recommending or sabotaging their next night out.

There’s also Tin Dog, which only features photos of dogs– basing the love of your life on their preferred breed. Unlikely, but not impossible.

And one cannot overlook Badoo, which finds potential matches using the celebrities you find most attractive.

With a seemingly endless amount of options to find a new flame, there is no excuse not to get out there. And Cotharin may have summed it all up best–  “Hey, whatever floats everybody’s boat.”