Candy History: Oh Henry

Thursday, September 19th, 2013 by Jessica Prokop

oh-henry-vintageThe Oh Henry Bar is a straightforward, delicious candy bar with a somewhat complicated history. As opposed to Snickers that was named after Forrest Mars’ beloved racehorse, no one is 100% certain where the name for Oh Henry came from.

Theories abound but one thing that almost everyone agrees upon is that this is a delicious candy bar and has been for close to 100 years. And no, this candy bar is not named after the baseball great Hank Aaron.

Spark your curiosity? Read on…

Lore has it that the name was derived from that of a randy young man who made frequents visits to the original manufacturers – the Williamson company – less for sugary sweets and more to flirt with the eye candy who worked on the assembly line. This leaves us to assume that the young man’s name was — you guessed it — Henry. But certain proof eludes us.

Perhaps a more credible theory is that the candy bar was named after the owner of the now defunct Peerless Candy company.  The owner’s name was Tom Henry and in a vainglorious move, created the Tom Henry Bar.  It was a short-lived venture as he sold the rights to the candy bar in 1920 to the Williamson Candy who changed the name to Oh Henry.

oh-henry-candy-bar-historyOh Henry was also one of the first examples of “guerilla marketing” as an employee of Williamson Candy Company was determined to make the Oh Henry Bar famous. Lacking the funds to launch a full frontal Madison Avenue advertising campaign, this wily salesman had bumper stickers printed with only two words – Oh Henry. Curiousity didn’t kill the cat and this candy bar quickly made a name for itself.

Things remained much the same for close to 65 years until 1984, when Nestle acquired the rights to distribute Oh Henry in the United States. The candy bar is also sold in Canada but distributed by Hershey with the difference being a “chocately” coating as opposed to milk chocolate.

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2 Responses to “Candy History: Oh Henry”

  1. Mollie Sheppard says:

    So for the record the real story is….
    My Great Grandfather Henry Brown McKelvie worked his whole life for a food distributing company in Vancouver, British Columbia called Kelly Douglas & Company.
    Henry was the head of the candy, drug and tobacco departments. It was his suggestion to add the caramel & peanuts to the plain chocolate bars that Hershey made at the time. They named the chocolate bar after him.

  2. Jonah Half says:

    Thanks so much for sharing! We haven’t heard this theory of the Oh Henry! name before, or have seen any linkage between the candy bar and Kelly Douglas & Company. Do you have have any proof to back up your claim?

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