Archive for the ‘Retro Candy’ Category

Squirrel Nut Zippers Caramels’ Uniqueness Compels

Thursday, June 24th, 2010 by Jon
Squirell Nut Zippers occupy a unique place in candy history as they are one of the older candies still available

Squirell Nut Zippers occupy a unique place in candy history as they are one of the older candies still available

Sharability: 9

Denture Danger:  8

Convenience: 10

Novelty: 9

Overall: 7

 Squirrel Brands Salted Nut Company began in 1899. It changed hands and it changed locations, but the squirreliness never diminished. The company supplied chewy candies and salted and roasted peanuts to not only the general public of candy lovers, but also to the armed forces. In 2004 the Squirrel Nut Company took it’s last ownership change as it fell into the hands of NECCO.

 The Squirrel Nut Caramel Candy is an individually wrapped rectangle of soft caramel with small pieces of peanuts mixed in for a slight crunch. The caramel is not as sticky as most caramels and thus does not annoyingly get stuck into the crevasses of your teeth.

Chocolate Squirrel caramel was the original flavor for the Squirrel Brands caramels. The caramels are a classic and are unique, and with that said, the candy need not be the tastiest candy in the land to be worthy of purchase.

B-O-N-O-M-O, O-O-O-Bonomo(BAHN-uh-moh) [not so] Turkish Taffy

Friday, June 11th, 2010 by Jon
A vintage Bonomo's Turkish Taffy Wrapper

A vintage Bonomo's Turkish Taffy Wrapper

Sharability: 7

Denture Danger: 10

Convenience: 8

Novelty: 10

Overall: 10

Once upon a time in the land of Turkey lived a man named Albert J. Bonomo. Al emigrated to Coney Island, New York and founded the Bonomo candy company in 1897.

This candy company made hard candies, but specialized in its saltwater taffy. As delicious as Al’s saltwater taffies must have been, it was not Al, but the son of Al who introduced the masterpiece of the Turkish Taffy that we have all known and loved since we learned to say the word “taffy.”

 An interesting thing about this candy that Tico, son of Victor, pointed out is that it is not technically taffy, it would be better described as nougat because of its corn syrup and egg white ingredients. Also the taffy is not any kind of Turkish secret family recipe. It was named Turkish Taffy purely for marketing reasons.

 When the candy was first distributed into Woolworth stores it came in school desk size sheets that were broken into pieces with ball-peen hammers. In the late 1940s the hammers were dropped and the bars of taffy took the field. The bars have a unique way of being eaten.

Before opening the wrapper you can smack the candy against the table so that it breaks into bite size pieces. When the taffy is too soft to break, a few minutes in the freezer does the trick to help the candy shatter. Bonomos’ flavors include vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and even banana.

 Bonomo was one of the first candies to be advertised on television and it surely wasn’t poorly marketed. The Magic Clown was a character on NBC Television who did your usual clown tricks and gags, but it all depended on the magic word: Bonomo. The commercials had a catchy hook, “B-O-N-O-M-O, O-O-O BONOMO!” that helped to make the candy so successful; they were so successful that in the 50’s and 60’s, 80 to 100 million bars were sold per year.

 In 1980 Tootsie Roll industries bought the candy and only nine years later they discontinued it. In 2003, the people who could only feel the melting taffy in their mouth through nostalgic memories began a movement to bring Bonomo back. The Bonomo website lacks information in that particular area, but I had the privilege to chew up some tasty Bonomo, so they must be in production somewhere. The Warrel Corporation claims that the Bonomos that you all love and miss so much will be back in stores and available for purchase this summer in July of 2010.

 That, my friends, is the story of the elusive Bonomo.

 Patience will prevail as you await the return of this wholesome nougaty Turkish Taffy. The day will come again when we will all hold our Bonomos above our heads and slam them against the table in unison.  


A Life In Candy: Retro Gift Pack Brings It All Back

Saturday, February 17th, 2007 by benjamin

While surfing through the McKeesport Candy Co. website I found the Retro Candy Gift Pack, all of which comes straight and direct from the hazy days of my childhood. The late 80s and early 90s were, for this twenty-something, the pinnacle of sugary achievement. This pack includes it all, but I’m going to focus on a few particular items which deserve attention all on their own.

1. Candy Jewelry

Is there a single girl out there who didn’t love wearing candy jewelry? Heck, I’ll still wear a candy necklace from time to time with a T-shirt, just as a fun accessory. Candy jewelry loves to taunt you: it just hangs there on your neck or wrist, the delectable sugary goodness teasing you. You know if you eat it, the cuteness of the candy necklace will be gone, but how can you not? The answer is simple: buy two, eat one, and save one to wear. Or just eat them both. That’s what I would do.

2. Fun Dip

Oh, Lik-M-Aid. Fun Dip took the candy concept (sugar + flavors) and simplified it to its most basic parts. You have your packets of flavored, colored sugar substance, and you have the Lik-M-Stick, which seems to be basically a compacted stick of sugar. Lick the stick, dip it in the sugar, and pow! Plus, it’s like getting four kinds of candy in one: you get the three flavors of powder (including one that looks blue but turns itself and your mouth green when you eat it) PLUS the added satisfaction of devouring the sugar sticks when you’re done. However, I have one caution that comes from learned experience: don’t attempt the Fun Dip on crowded car trips. Between the bumps and jostles, powdery disaster could result. I’m not going to give the Pixie Stix much verbage, since they’re basically the same thing as Fun Dip, without the sugar stick, but Pixie Sticks are fabulous. I would always get the really huge, couple-foot-long Pixie Stix and just pour that powered sugar down my throat. Mmmmmm.

3. Sugar Daddies and Babies

When I got my braces in middle school, I pretty much disregarded all the restrictions they gave me about eating food. I chowed down on popcorn and gum and ice, but I quickly discovered that some of my favorite candies were now off-limits. The first time I attempted to down some Sugar Babies, well, disaster struck. It took me almost a day to untangle my metal molars from the sticky stuff, but man, it was almost worth it. Such caramel-ly goodness! I do have to object to the blatant patriarchal domination of this candy: where’s the Sugar Mama?!? We demand candy equality!

4. Pop Rocks and Sweet Tarts

There’s not a whole lot to say about these two candies besides that they’re fabulous. Penny for penny, Pop Rocks are some of the best fun you can have. I mean really, where else can you get a few minutes of mouth-popping excitement for under a buck? That’s what I thought. And Sweet Tarts, well, their name says it all. They have been a Halloween staple my entire life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

There are a few of these retro candy packs available, and they all have a far bigger selection than I’ve talked about here. After writing this, all I have to say that I really wish I were 10 and tonight was Halloween.


Not Just One, but Allsorts of Licorice

Saturday, February 17th, 2007 by benjamin


For those of you who like licorice, there’s a great brand called Licorice Allsorts. Not only does it boast the same great taste you licorice-lovers come to expect and crave, its unique appearance adds to the fun of eating. One bag contains licorice shaped in pink, orange, blue and white cubes and sprinkled spheres. 

My very first experience with licorice was a bad one. I tried a string of black licorice when I was in kindergarten and it seemed as if I would never be able to wash that strong taste out of my mouth. That day, my teacher had to coax me with a cherry Blow-pop to calm me down. Ever since then, I have been extremely wary of any type of licorice. When I bravely decided to try Licorice Allsorts, I was pleasantly surprised by not only its welcoming designs and easy-to-eat shapes, but also by the taste. They didn’t taste at all like the black licorice string I first tasted so many years ago. 

Licorice dates as far back in history as 5000 years ever since the Chinese first thought that eating licorice root was healthy. It was even found among King Tut’s treasures! Even he was a fan of the chewy confection and found it important enough to be buried with them by his side. I am now a licorice fan. It’s fun to eat and also a great social treat for its fun colors. 

History of Wax Lips

Thursday, February 1st, 2007 by benjamin

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America’s Oleaginous Affectation – Wax Lips.
When Ralphie Parker’s 4th Grade class dejectedly hand over their wax fangs to Mrs. Shields in the perennial holiday movie favorite, A Christmas Story, legions of grownups are reminded of what a penny used to buy at their local Woolworth’s store. But there is far more to these paraffin playthings than a penny’s worth of fun.
It is hard to recall a time when there were no wax fangs, lips, moustaches, or harmonicas for kids to smuggle into school. Most of us remember the peculiar disintegrating flavor of Wax Lips from bygone Halloweens and birthday parties but we don’t know where these long-enduring icons of American culture actually started. The answer, oddly enough, can be found by way of the oil patch.
The 1859 birth of the oil industry and introduction of kerosene for illumination changed America. “This flood of American petroleum poured in upon us by millions of gallons, and giving light at a fifth of the cost of the cheapest candle,” wrote British chandler James Wilson in 1879. Kerosene sales devastated the candle business, much like widespread use of electricity would impact the kerosene market at the turn of the century.
A byproduct of kerosene distillation, paraffin, soon found its way from refinery to marketplace in the form of sealing waxes and even chewing gums. By 1900, tallow candles were history as ninety percent of all candles were made from paraffin. The new century brought other new and surprising uses as well.
“Crayola” crayons were introduced by Binney & Smith in 1903 and were instantly successful. Edison’s popular new phonographs needed paraffin for their wax cylinders. Then an inspired Buffalo, NY confectioner used fully refined, food-grade paraffin and a sense of humor to find a niche in America’s imagination.
John W. Glenn had come to the United States from England at age 15 in 1888 and grew up in his father’s wholesale candy business. When the elder Glenn passed away in 1912, son John continued the business as J.W. Glenn Co. There he introduced America to paraffin “penny chewing gum novelties,” delighting children everywhere. His products’ popularity grew quickly and by 1923, J.W. Glenn Co. employed almost 100 people, including 18 salesmen traveling nationwide from offices located at 65 Carroll St.
In 1927, Franklin C. Gurley, Sr. left his position at Buffalo’s National Aniline & Chemical Co. to build a candy business of his own. He purchased Robert White’s new confectionary company, W&F Manufacturing Co., which had incorporated only the year before to produce, “…all kinds of candies, chocolates, ice cream dainties and parafine (sic) novelties.” Gurley reported his occupation as “confectioner” by the 1930 census.
Just a few blocks away, Glenn Confections was busily engaged in producing their popular paraffin novelties, and continued to do so after becoming the wax candy division of W&F Manufacturing Co. Wax horse teeth (said to taste like wintergreen), and other novelties chattered profitably down Glenn’s production line while Franklin Gurley explored further expansion opportunities for his rapidly growing company.
W&F Mfg. began producing novelty candles for Socony-Vacuum Oil Co. in 1939, using paraffin from Socony’s nearby refinery at Olean, NY — once home to the world’s largest crude oil storage site. W&F’s “Tavern Candles” Santas, reindeer, elves and other colorful Christmas favorites are still prized by E-Bay collectors as are Gurley’s elaborately molded Halloween candles. Decorative and scented Gurley paraffin candles soon became W&F Mfg.’s principal product, accounting for 98% of sales, but production of Glenn’s wax candy novelties continued. A field of metal tanks, some holding 20,000 gallons of paraffin, stood adjacent to Gurley’s Buffalo factory.
As W&F’s wax candy division, Glenn Confections produced the popular ancestors of today’s Wack-O-Wax and Nik-L-Nips. In the town of Emlenton PA, a few miles south of Oil City, the Emlenton Refining Co. (and later the Quaker State Oil Refining Co.) supplied fully refined food-grade paraffin to W&F for these bizarre but beloved treats.
Quaker State veteran Barney Lewis remembers selling Emlenton paraffin to W&F Products. “It was always fun going to the plant in North Tonowanda, they were very secret about how they did stuff, but you always got a sample to bring home… Wax lips, Nickle NIPs – little coke bottle shaped wax filled with a colored syrup. Other companies supplied W&F, one being now the IGI Group in Canada.” (International Group Inc., founded in 1943 as International Waxes Ltd. of Toronto.)
At its peak, W&F produced about 30-million novelty wax candies annually, but the company’s principle product, decorative candles, fought an uphill battle as import competition became fierce. The price of paraffin went from 7¢ to 50¢ per pound during the 1982 oil shortage. W&F Products struggled. In 1994, after almost 70-years in business, the company failed. Its attorney summarized, “Unfortunately, competition from China and other Pacific Rim countries that rely on cheap labor ultimately forced W&F’s decision to close its doors.” Among the 250 former employees, rumors persisted that W&F was driven into bankruptcy by a failed pursuit of the Guinness record for “world’s largest candle.”
W&F Products’ creditors scrambled for assets. The company was sold piecemeal, including the proprietary hardware that Glenn Confections had long used to produce their strange assortment of paraffin candies.
Ben Shepherd owned Challenger Candy Co., 650-miles away in Secor, IL where he produced bagged cotton candy. Shepherd bought Glenn Confections’ unique wax candy equipment and hauled it from Buffalo to Secor, where he continued production of the nostalgic favorites. Despite a continuing national sweet tooth and the predictable Halloween demand for the novelties, Challenger Candy Co. lasted only a few years before going bankrupt. American Candy Co. of Selma, AL, in business since 1900, stepped in to once again rescue Wax Lips from oblivion.
Employee Earnest Shears traveled to the tiny community of Secor (“South East CORner” of Roanoke, IL) to help move the wax candy production machinery over 700 miles to the American Candy Company’s 36,000 square foot plant in Selma. “In Secor, there was a post office, a tavern, and the Challenger Candy Company and that was all there was to the whole town. Nothing else. It took two or three months to move it all to Selma,” Shears recalls.
American Candy Company’s Wax Candy Division continued the long tradition of producing Wax Lips and other popular novelties that John W. Glenn had begun back in Buffalo, NY over 80-years earlier. But only briefly.
In 2002, after over 100-years in business, American Candy Co. fell to intense marketplace competition and filed for Chapter 11 protection. The company had once employed as many as 500 people. Wax Lips appeared doomed again as the company was sold off.
Then Concord Confections of Ontario, Canada came to the rescue. Concord purchased the Wax Candy Division for $3 million and moved it over 1,000 miles back to Concord, Ontario – only about 20-miles from the IGI Wax plant and “across the river” from Carroll Street in Buffalo were the novelty originated. Today as a small part of Tootsie-Roll Industries, Concord Confections continues to produce Wax Lips (Wack-O-Wax) and other paraffin candies for new generations of schoolchildren.
Despite a 2,000 mile itinerant business history and a long series of owners, Wax Lips survive to delight kids and prompt memories in the rest of us. Today, the petroleum industry produces an astonishing range of products for modern consumers. But among the many products that find their history in the oilfield, few are as unique, peculiar, and revered as Wax Lips.

Kristin Wells (from the American Oil and Gas Historical Society)