Archive for the ‘Candy History’ Category
The Early Days of a Retro 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.
Over 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.
A Man and His Popcorn
Nothing 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.
But 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
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.
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!
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.
The 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 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.
NECCO WAFERS ARE OLD-SCHOOL COOL
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.
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
In 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.
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.
Despite 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. HowStuffWorks.com. 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.” Slashfood.com. 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 – TheAtlantic.com. 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.
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 candyfavorites.com and radzworld.com!
According to Gourmet Live, the first American chocolate bunny was made in the mid-1840s by Whitman, but the fad did not catch on until they were mass-produced and marketed in 1916 by Bortz. The tradition of chocolate bunnies started in Germany in the early 1800s, though. Probably they were more like sinewy, gangly hares than soft cute bunnies, though.
Whatever the history, you can’t deny that they are an Easter classic. How do you eat them? Ears first or feet first? Back in the day when I worked at NCA we had quite a lively office debate on the topic. I still eat them feet first. You don’t want the little guy scampering off. But tell us your method and reasoning. I think of the ears as a perfect handle to get the cute little feet taken care of but some say that’s the wrong way.
The Zero Bar is not your average candy bar as it is a candy with a history spanning over 70 years!
It was first introduced in the 1920’s by the now defunct Hollywood Brands Candy Company and is now owned by Hershey Foods although this transition took place over many years and included many owners in between.
The candy bar is unique in that it consists of a delicious amalgamation of almonds, peanuts and caramel nougat covered, or shall we say , drenched, with delicious white fudge. This was even more controversial upon its release as most candy bars then, as now, are coated in milk chocolate.
As per the name, this has been the subject of candy lore as it was not touted as a reduced calorie candy bar – hence the name Zero – but rather because the white coating was supposed to give the impression of snow and, metaphorically speaking, “cool as zero degrees”
The original wrapper had a Polar Bear on it and upon it’s initial release, was called Double Zero. It wasn’t until 1934 that it formally became known as the Zero Bar
The original Zero Bars were distributed in the summer as fudge has a much higher melting point than milk chocolate and, as there wasn’t air conditioning readily available when the bar was first released; retailers stored this in their refrigerators.
Yes, this candy bar like others will melt if exposed to high temperatures but there is something intriguing about this bar that makes it endure as a classic if only because it is delicious and holds true to it’s original formula and because it is over 70 years old!
PS: The vintage Zero Bar wrapper pictured above is VERY rare as it shows the Polar Bear! This is circa early 1930’s