Archive for the ‘Candy History’ Category

Candy History: Old Fashion Christmas Hard Candy

Thursday, November 21st, 2013 by Laurnie Wilson

old-fashioned-christmas-hard-candySpecial Occasion Candy

Few things are sweeter at Christmas time than a handful of candy. Everyone has a favorite holiday treat that they look forward to all year round. There’s just something especially nice about savoring a candy that only comes by for special occasions. And while we can’t imagine ringing in the Yule-tide feelings without a sugary treat or two, it wasn’t always this way.

Old Fashioned Sweetness

While people have been enjoying sweets for centuries, the first mention of Christmas candy came in the form of candy canes. In 1672, the choirmaster of the Cologne Cathedral created white, sugary sticks to keep the children quiet in his church. These boring white staffs morphed over the years into the hooked, red and white striped favorites we know today – and they still have the remarkable ability to hush any whiny mouth.

old-fashioned-christmas-ribbon-candyOver the years, the tradition of cut rock candy has remained a staple of Christmas festivities.  Decades of grandmothers have known the secrets behind whipping up the perfect batch of sugary confections: ribbons, bows, and disks, all dyed and pulled to perfection. It’s a tough job, but somebody had to do it!

Luckily, with our Old Fashioned Christmas Candy Mix, you never have to worry if your sugar has reached the proper boiling point. You can have all your favorite Christmas candies, with none of the sugar-burning disasters.

Old Fashioned, Not Outdated

candy-cane-figurinesThat said, not all homemade candy attempts end in failure. In fact, some of the most beloved candies started in home kitchens before rising to the greatness they have today.

And speaking of great candies, if you enjoy nostalgic confections, you should take a look at our Americana Penny Candy Mix. Chock-full of sweets you may remember as a kid, this is one mix that shouldn’t be missed.

Around the holidays, we celebrate the things we hold most dear: family, friends, and the candies we grew up loving as children. With our Old Fashioned Christmas Mix, you can help make Christmas traditions come true.



Candy History: Christmas Candy in America

Thursday, November 14th, 2013 by Laurnie Wilson

Announcing a new Christmas Candy favorite!

Christmas-penny-candy-Americana-mixMost of our top-10 bestselling candies year after year are Brach’s candies like Butterscotch Disks, Villa Cherries, and Ice Blue Mint Coolers. But every year, there’s one candy mix — only sold at — that manages to rank among those established favorites. Penny Candy Americana Mix delivers joy to everyone who encounters it by bringing back the tastes of childhood for all ages.

What better time for the wonderful magic of rediscovery than Christmas morning?

This year, we’re excited to introduce Christmas Candy Americana Mix!

A Mixed History

The history of Christmas candy in America is one that can bring back fond memories for almost anyone, as everyone seems to have their own personal Christmas candy history and experiences. Our love of Christmas candy in America stretches back many generations, linking families and taste buds for over a century.

Did you know that the first mention of candy canes in America was in 1847? A German immigrant by the name of August Imgard decorated his Christmas tree with them in that year, and they’ve been a perennial Christmas favorite in the U.S., ever since.

Traditionally Minded

In fact, Americans are pretty traditional when it comes to their candy favorites. Our Americana Penny Candy Mix pays tribute to some of the oldest and most revered candies in America.

Would you believe that most of the top-selling candies in America today were first introduced before World War II? It’s true, and for good reason. If you have a good thing, why bother changing it? And, in the early part of the 20th century, America was brimming with delicious, new chocolates and candies.

Twizzlers and Hershey Bars have been in production since 1845 and 1900, respectively.  These top candies are an ongoing testament that our appreciation of quintessentially Americana candy runs deep.

christmas-candy-spearmint-leavesAmericana for All

When it comes to Christmas candy, we Americans are devoted to our time-tested favorites. Everyone seems to love biting into a candy that reminds them of the magic of Christmases in their childhood. There’s something really sweet about revisiting those memories of a time when Spearmint Leaves cost a penny and Hershey bars went for only a nickel.

Our brand new Christmas Candy Americana Mix evokes all of the nostalgic thoughts of yesteryear, with a little bit of everything inside. So when you bite into one of these candies, you know you’re tasting some of the best that American Christmas candy has to offer.



Candy History: Abba Zaba

Friday, November 8th, 2013 by Laurnie Wilson

The Early Days of a Retro Candy Bar

abba-zabba-unwrapped-candy-bar The history of the Abba-Zaba bar goes way back, all the way to 1922, to be exact. It was a different time, then. The first radio had just arrived at the White House, Egypt received independence from Great Britain, and a little candy company called Colby and McDermott was manufacturing a new kind of candy bar in Los Angeles, California.

What made this candy so special, you might ask? Well, it consisted of a white taffy exterior with a creamy peanut butter center. Known as the Abba-Zaba bar, this stick-to-your-teeth confection became a huge hit out west, where they still carry the biggest clout, today.

In The Spotlight

Anyone who loves the Abba-Zaba bar will recognize that black and yellow Taxi-cab-esque exterior. But are you familiar with the original wrapper scandal? Early Abba-Zaba wrappers from Colby & McDermott depict what appear to be African tribesmen in a jungle, sitting beside a taffy tree. And while this racially taboo packaging would never fly today, it didn’t do the brand any damage when the candy first came out.

The Abba-Zaba bar has also made numerous TV and movie appearances in its sweet history, racking up quite a few screen creds- the most famous of which may be from its mention in the movie Half Baked.


So Famous!

Abba-Zaba Today

abba-zabba-candy-bar-taffyOver the years, manufacturing of the candy passed first to Cardinet Candy and then to Annabelle Candy Company in 1978. But despite frequent company changes, the original Abba-Zaba taste has remained the same.

Today, Annabelle Candy Company manufactures the Abba-Zaba bar in Hayward, California. The candy is Kosher pareve and is even available in new flavors. You can now get your Abba-Zaba fix with green-apple flavored taffy, or a chocolate, instead of peanut butter, filling.

And once you’ve gotten your hands on one, the choice is yours on how you want to enjoy it. Some say freezing them is the best way. Others say leaving them in a hot car does the trick. Either way, you’re in for a treat.





Candy History: Cracker Jacks

Thursday, October 31st, 2013 by Laurnie Wilson

A Man and His Popcorn

popcorn-cracker-jacks2Nothing screams Americana quite like the 7th inning stretch and a box of Cracker Jacks. But would you believe this time-tested snack was created by a German immigrant and debuted not at the ballpark, but at the World’s Fair? The story of this American candy classic is an interesting one, indeed.

Frederick William Rueckheim had been selling popcorn on the streets of Chicago for years, when, in 1893, he came up with a new popcorn creation for the Chicago World’s Fair. When his brother Louis arrived from Germany, they established the F.W. Rueckheim & Bro. company to sell their popcorn together.

What is a Cracker Jack?

In 1896 the name Cracker Jack was officially registered (before then the snack had been called candied popcorn and peanuts) and the familiarly sticky and sweet candy we know today was born.

Back in the day, the term “cracker jack” could refer to anything of high quality, so it’s no wonder the name stuck! The coining of the name, however, was just the first of many big steps for this candy favorite.

Out of Left Field

Henry Gottlieb Eckstein’s invention of the “Eckstein Triple Proof Bag” in 1899 made him the perfect business partner for the Rueckheim brothers. And, in 1902, the company became Rueckheim Bros & Eckstein.

cracker-jack-retroBut it would take six more years before Cracker Jacks came into their own. In 1908, Jack Norworth penned the infamous lines of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” that shot Cracker Jacks into the limelight. Since then, no baseball game has been complete without at least one box of the crunchy, sweet treat.

Changes came to the company, fast and furious, as Cracker Jacks grew in popularity. In 1912 Rueckheim Bros & Eckstein began adding tiny prizes to each box of Cracker Jacks. Candy and toys? These guys really knew what would sell. The face of Cracker Jacks got another boost in 1918, when Sailor Jack and his dog Bingo were added to the packaging.

The endearing duo was apparently based on Rueckheim’s grandson and dog. But, I’d say it’s probably not a coincidence that they appeared at the end of the 1st World War. A patriotic move, if I do say so myself.

A Home Run

cracker-jacks-originalFour years later, the company underwent another name change, this time becoming The Cracker Jack Company. This name lasted through much of the 20th century, until Borden bought it in 1964.

Today, Cracker Jacks are made by Frito-Lay. They’re still a fan favorite at baseball games, enchanting the young and the young-at-heart as they have for decades. So while the prizes may have changed over the years, you can be sure that the candy inside hasn’t changed a bit.




Candy History: Valomilk

Thursday, October 10th, 2013 by Jessica Prokop

The first Valomilk candy cup was created in Kansas by the Sifers company in 1931. The Sifers company had gotten its start by making hard penny candy and then moved on to boxed chocolates and 5-cent candy bars. Like most great inventions, the first Valomilk was the product of a happy accident (serendipity, you might say).

Making a Marshmallow Mess

At that time, the vanilla used to make marshmallows had a lot more alcohol in it than it does today. When a candy maker added too much vanilla, it would prevent the marshmallow from setting properly. Fortunately, when life handed Sifers a batch of runny marshmallow and some chocolate, they made Valomilk!

valomilk-flowingBy containing the gooey marshmallow goodness inside a milk chocolate cup, the candy makers combined incredible flavors and prevented a big mess — at least until someone bit into a candy cup.

Valomilks were first sold in the Midwest and were made up of 2 ounces of marshmallow in one chocolate cup. Now the same amount of candy is split up into 2 smaller cups, making the treat easier (and cleaner) to eat.

Fighting the Good Fight

Valomilks have now been on shelves for 5 generations, but it wasn’t without a fight. In 1981 the Valomilk factory shut down and this classic candy was nowhere to be found.

Thankfully the great grandson of the company’s founder combined the original copper kettles and the traditional family recipe to begin making Valomilks again in Kansas. They only disappeared for 6 years!

To get Valomilks right, they have to be made by hand, so that’s how they’re still made today — one by one, right here in America.



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.

Candy History: Necco Wafers

Thursday, September 5th, 2013 by Jessica Prokop


It’s hard to believe these delicious pastel wafers will soon be celebrating their 167th birthday. (They look pretty good for their age, don’t they?) Their longevity places them among the pantheon of great American candies.


A Burst of Energy Right Out of the Gate

One of the most interesting things about Necco Wafers is that these candies sided with the Union during the Civil War. They were invented by Oliver Chase who used them as a way to give troops an energy boost, making them the oldest energy candy that we know of. It would be another 54 years until New England Candy Company was formed, and it took 11 more years until Necco Wafers became common currency.

necco wafers vintage rollsDelicious…and Durable!

The beauty of Necco Wafers is that they are virtually indestructible. Legend has it that Admiral Byrd took 2 tons of this nostalgic candy with him when he made his expedition to the Antarctic in the 1930s.

They might not be a great cure for scurvy or other exotic illnesses, but it’s a fair bet that his crew wasn’t wanting for sweets.

A Taste of Home

vintage-necco-adIn the 1940s, Necco Wafers saw a huge rise in popularity as the government ordered them to be included in ration kits for soldiers fighting in the second world war. They were especially important to those fighting in tropical environments where heat was an issue. Not exactly a substitute for mom’s home cooking, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Things in Necco-Wafer Land remained basically the same until 2009 when the formula was changed to an All Natural version. The idea didn’t come from the same folks who changed the long-beloved original CocaCola formula, but the change made candy lovers livid. The company changed back to the old-school formula two years later.

Candy History: Clark Bars

Thursday, August 29th, 2013 by Jessica Prokop


Clark Bars are an American institution near and dear to our black-and-gold Pittsburgh Hearts. They were formulated right here in our hometown of McKeesport, PA at the turn of the century by a gentleman named David L. Clark. The candy bar was originally made just a few blocks from the warehouse where our candy company has  resided since 1927! Since our founder Ernest Prince was friendly with Mr. Clark, we were probably the very FIRST candy wholesalers in the nation to offer this treat.

The company later changed its name to “DL Clark Company” and moved to downtown Pittsburgh. It graced the city with an illuminated candy-bar sign and remained until 1955 when it was acquired by Beatrice Foods. Over the years, they would be acquired by Leaf Confections and then again by Hershey, who returned the candy bar and its headquarters to its roots in Pittsburgh. It remained for three short but blissful years until New England Confectionary Company acquired it.

vintage clark candy bar pittsburghDespite Clark’s many owners and a few controversial ingredient changes (that were fortunately reversed), Clark Bars remain a tried-and-true classic combination of crunchy peanut butter and creamy milk chocolate. Today, this retro candy qualifies as a piece of edible Americana.

The Surprising History of Candy Corn

Friday, October 12th, 2012 by Jessica Prokop

This candy history blog post is brought to you courtesy of guest blogger Esther of Why’d You Eat That?

These days, candy corn is a given when it comes to Halloween. You see it at every party, in every store window display, and eat it by the handful while driving home from a really depressing day at the office only to discover stray kernels months later.

What I’m saying is candy corn has become kind of commonplace. It’s become expected, really. But that hasn’t always been the case. Candy corn used to be an exciting innovation. I know, right? Candy corn an innovation. Crazy, right? Not so much. That tri-color technology was mind-blowing.

Courtesy of 


The lil’ nibbles were invented by George Renniger, an employee of the Wunderlee Candy Company in Philadelphia. While Wunderlee is credited with being the first to sell commercially, the sale and production of candy corn is mostly attributed to Goelitz Confectionary Company. The candy corn business was started by the second generation of Goelitz candy makers in 1898. It kept the company afloat through the Great Depression and WWI and II. You may not have heard of Goelitz before. That’s because they changed their name to Jelly Belly.

Courtesy of Jelly Belly: The Goelitz Confectionery Company’s Midland Park plant.


At the beginning, candy corn was actually called “chicken feed.” This made sense considering in those days corn was chicken feed. People didn’t eat corn the way we do today, mainly cause it tasted icktastic. Chicken feed (the candy) had no association with Halloween or fall. It was, however, a seasonal candy due to the tedious nature of the work. Chicken feed was only available between March and November.

Courtesy of Jelly Belly


Candy corn was a type of “mellow cream.” A mellow cream (or mellocreme or mellowcream or mellowcreme) candy is made from corn syrup and sugar with marshmallow flavor. Goelitz originally called them butter cream candies. However, there was pressure to change the name in the 1950s since there wasn’t any actual butter in the recipe. False advertising, my friends. It shall not be tolerated.

The recipe for candy corn was simple: sugar, corn syrup, water, and other ingredients were put into massive kettles that could hold up to 45lbs of the mixture. It was cooked into a slurry and, once well blended, marshmallow and fondant were added to the kettles. This served to smooth out the texture and make the candy soft to the bite. The mixture was poured into buckets called “runners” and workers called “stringers” would walk backwards while they poured the mixture into large kernel-shaped, cornstarch molds. The workers passed over with the buckets three times, each time with a different color: white, orange, and yellow. Fun fact: candy corn is made from bottom to top. The yellow bit is the top and the white is the bottom.

Courtesy of Jelly Belly: Stringers pouring candy slurry into the kernel molds.


Once dry, the kernels were removed from the molds and packed into wooden boxes, tubs, and cartons and shipped by wagon or train. The treat was perishable so it couldn’t travel for long periods of time. The butter cream candies were sold out of barrels in bulk candy and drug stores and became so popular that other companies tried emulating them. Rival companies made turnips, four leaf clovers, chestnuts, and other natural shapes, but those were nothing compared to the revolutionary tri-color candy corn.

Courtesy of Jelly Belly: The Goelitz Chicago factory


In the 1940s, candy companies began making use of “family sized” clear cellophane bags, the better to keep candy fresh while still allowing consumers to see what was inside. It was important to continue showing off the three colors but now Goelitz could ship the candy farther than before. 

Courtesy of The Candy Professor


In the 1900s, the demand for the tiny treat increased so much that Goelitz had to actually turn down orders. They didn’t have the production capacity to keep up with its popularity. That changed over the years and in 1951, the Goelitz Company had 12 factories around the country making candy corn. After WWII, candy corn was advertised as a Halloween candy and since then you can’t have Halloween without the candy corn.

And there you have it. A short history of candy corn. Now go impress your co-workers at the company Halloween party.


Bibliography for Candy Corn:

-”The Food Timeline–Halloween Food History: Traditions, Party Menus & Trick- or-treat.” Food Timeline: Food History & Vintage Recipes. Ed. Lynne Olver.  28 Oct. 2011. Web. 28 Oct. 2011.

-”Fun Facts About Candy Corn – Candy and Chocolate – NCA.” NCA – National Confectioners Association. National Confectioners Association. Web. 28 Oct. 2011.

-”Farley’s & Sathers Candy Company, Inc. Fun Facts and FAQs.” Farley’s & Sathers Candy Company Home Page. Farley’s & Sathers Candy Company, 07 Mar. 2008. Web. 28 Oct. 2011.

-Huget, Jennifer L. “The Chemistry of Candy Corn.” The Washington Post: National, World & D.C. Area News and Headlines – The Washington Post. The Washington Post, 28 Oct. 2011. Web. 28 Oct. 2011.

-Watson, Stephanie.  “What is candy corn and how is it made?”  29 September 2006.   28 October 2011.

-“History of Candy Corn, King of Halloween Candy.” Haunted Bay. Haunted Bay. Web. 29 Oct. 2011.

-Weston, Nicole. “The History Of… Candy Corn.” The Huffington Post, 30 Oct. 2006. Web. 29 Oct. 2011.

-Kawash, Samira. “Where Our Love/Hate Relationship With Candy Corn Comes From.”The Atlantic — News and Analysis on Politics, Business, Culture, Technology, National, International, and Life – The Atlantic, 30 Oct. 2010. Web. 29 Oct. 2011.

-Kawash, Samira. “1951 Goelitz Candy Corn Ad.” Candy Professor. 30 Oct. 2010. Web. 29 Oct. 2011.

-“Candy Corn.” 2011. The History Channel website. Oct 28 2011, 8:08.

Meet The Radz and other fun candy characters!

Thursday, May 31st, 2012 by Jessica Prokop

Radz is all about making candy fun, and a big part of that is our collection of colorful Radz characters. Meet Twig, Scorch, Antic, Max and Bubbs!

They’ve each got their own personalities. We like to think of them as your typical group of friends, each with their own passions and quirks.

We’ve got Twig, the outdoorsman.

And Scorch, the extreme sports loving “bro.”

There’s Antic, the prankster of the group.

Max is the traveler, ever on the go.

And finally, there’s Bubbs, the loyal buddy always ready to lend a hand.

We’ve taken a lot of care getting to know our characters (and yes, we can even tell you who’s frenemies with who) and we’re very excited to share them with the world through our candy dispensers (available soon at CandyFavorites!) and our fun, free online entertainment portal. But we also know we’re hardly the first to figure out that tasty candy and fun characters make an awesome duo.

So, in the spirit of CandyFavorites, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at some other candy characters and mascots that have appeared over the years.

Choo Choo Charlie was the face of Good & Plenty starting in 1950.

He may not be around anymore, but many fans still remember how much Charlie loved trains and his Good & Plenty!  Check out one of Charlie’s commercial’s here.

M&Ms have been around since the 40s, but it wasn’t until 1954 that the characters Red and Yellow made their debut. Remember these guys?

The characters got an overhaul in the mid-90s, when a computer animated Red and Yellow began appearing in TV commercials, soon be followed by Blue, Ms. Green, Orange, and the recently introduced newest member of the M&M bunch, Ms. Brown.

The Dum Dums Drum man was developed for Spangler Candy in 1966.

Wally Warhead burst onto the sour candy scene in the 1980s with his signature puckered lips.

And Mr. Jelly Belly first appeared in 1996.

Did we miss your favorite candy character or mascot?  Let us know in the comments! And come check us out and learn more about the Radz characters at and!