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.
After over 85 years in the candy business, we finally have over 8,500 wonderful Facebook fans! We need you to help us pass the 10K mark!
This is an exclusive event just for our Facebook Fans, so if you’re not one yet, get in on the action.
The Number of Prizes is Up to You!
We want to get as many fans as possible by midnight on Halloween. As long as we pass 10,000 fans, we’ll give away 10 prizes to new Facebook fans and 10 prizes to any fans who share our Facebook posts. After we hit 10K, we’ll add an extra prize for every 500 new fans!
It’s super easy!
Become a Fan.
Tell your Friends.
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A Candy By Another Name
The history of the Zero bar is a cool one, indeed. In 1920, the Hollywood Brands Company introduced what was then called the Double Zero Bar. At that time, the Minnesota based company manufactured the candies at a factory in Centralia, Illinois. Made of caramel, peanut, almond, and nougat, and covered with a layer of white fudge, it wasn’t long before these Double Zero Bars were known for their distinctive white exterior.
Back in the day, these sweet treats sold for only a penny each, boasting a label that promised kids a steam engine toy if they sent in ten wrappers and fifteen cents. Now that’s the kind of deal you won’t hear about, anymore. It wasn’t until 1934 when the Double Zero Bar was renamed, simply, Zero.
Winds of Change
For the past 93 years, the Zero bar has undergone transformations both big and small. This resilient little candy survived multiple buyouts, first by Consolidated Foods Corporation in 1967, and then Huhtamaki Oy in 1988. It even managed to rebound from a fire that destroyed the Centralia, Illinois plant in 1980.
Over the years, the packaging may have changed- losing the polar bears and frigid arctic scene for a more space-aged, stream-lined design- but the message has always been clear: Zero bars are as cool as zero degrees. They happen to taste great out of the freezer, too.
Today, Zero Bars are produced by Hershey. At almost 100 years old, it’s safe to say that Zero Bars are truly an American classic. So no matter the name change, or the company transfers, one bite of these time-tested treats and you’ll go right back to your youth, regardless of the decade.
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.
This is a question that candy lovers have pondered for 83 years.
A New Kind of Candy Bar
In 1930, Frank Mars, the father of Forrest Mars, named his candy bar after his beloved horse named Snickers. Ironically, the name of the family farm located in Tennessee was Milky Way. These candy bars stirred a bit of controversy upon their release as they were priced at 20 cents at a time when customers expected candy bars to cost a nickel. The inspiration for the bar wasn’t a candy bar at all, but rather a confection made of nougat, peanut & caramel.
Taking Over the World
Little did he know that this delicious chocolate and caramel would go on to become the best selling candy bar on planet Earth. At one time, confusion abounded as this delicious bar was originally called the Marathon Bar in the United Kingdom. The name was changed to be consistent worldwide, but the Snickers/Marathon confusion continues. In the UK, if someone mentions a Marathon bar, they could be talking about the early Snickers, or the now-discontinued bar best imitated by Cadbury’s Curly Wurly. To make things even more complex, Mars now markets a “Marathon” branded version of the Snickers bar as an energy bar.
Not Going Anywhere for a While
Snickers is the best selling candy bar in the world, accounting for over $2 billion dollars’ worth of annual sales for M&M Mars. Its success is largely attributable to some epic marketing campaigns, and today’s “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign is no exception.
In case you were wondering, there are roughly 16 peanuts in every chocolate-and-nougat-packed bar, and Mars packs 100 tons of them into 15 million Snickers bars every day. Over the years, more than
40 variations of the Snickers Bar have been marketed
in various places around the world.
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.
Is the difference subtle or substantial?
I love licorice snaps.
You could say I acquired a taste for them. Black licorice is my absolute favorite candy, so I’m always up for a new licorice adventure. The first time I ate Snaps, I thought I hated them. I thought they tasted like paint. But they had a tough toothiness that made them kind of irresistible. By the time I finished my first box, I was hooked. I don’t know what that paint thing was about. I love them.
At CandyFavorites, a customer recently brought it to our attention that he noticed a difference in his Snaps. While the bag said “same great flavors, softer, chewy center,” the taste he loved was gone. Saying that the change was far from an improvement, he likened it to what happened with the new Coke.
The New “New Coke”?
As a newly minted lover of Snaps, I was alarmed and tasted our latest shipment immediately. I felt like I could savor the old snaps, and these feel somehow less substantial and harder to hold onto. I’m able to go through a pile of them much more quickly than before. Which raises the point that I still enjoy them. I feel safer since the recall. But, as these things usually go, something seems to have been lost. I believe that luck does play a role in success, and striking just the right balance can make magic. That’s what I believe has happened with snaps. They’re still very good. They’re just not quite “The Original Licorice Snaps“.
Have you tried both versions of Snaps?
Tell us what you think in the comments.
by Loralee Leavitt
When you pop them in your mouth, Pop Rocks fizz, sizzle, and explode. These experiments show you why–and how to have fun with them.
Bubbling Pop Rocks
Why do Pop Rocks pop in your mouth?
It’s because they have a secret ingredient.
You’re looking at the secret ingredient — carbon dioxide that’s pumped into the candy when it’s still melted, trapping bubbles.
Do Pop Rocks Bubble, Or Don’t They?
Pour water into one glass, and pour cooking oil into a second glass. Then add Pop Rocks to each glass. Do the Pop Rocks in water bubble and fizz? What about the Pop Rocks in oil?*
Pop Rocks are made of sugar, which dissolves in water. As the Pop Rocks dissolve, they release tiny trapped bubbles of carbon dioxide, which make the bubbles and the noise. But sugar doesn’t dissolve in oil, so the Pop Rocks in oil don’t dissolve or release bubbles.
This is why Pop Rocks can be mixed with chocolate and still keep their bubbles, such as in S Chocolate’s Exploding Chocolate Frogs, or in Chocolate Pop Rocks (sometimes available from www.candyfavorites.com). They don’t dissolve until you eat them!
Jumping Pop Rocks
To see Pop Rocks in action, pour a small amount of hot water (about 140 F) into a clear soda bottle. (If you use a glass instead of a soda bottle, prepare for a mess and wear safety glasses.) Then dump in Pop Rocks and see if any of them jump!
Why do the Pop Rocks pop up?
The hot water dissolves the candy so fast that the air bubbles explode, making the Pop Rocks shoot up like popcorn.
Whether you soak your Pop Rocks, drop them in oil, or explode them like popcorn, candy experiments help you enjoy Pop Rocks in all sorts of ways. There’s only one thing left to know: why are the “Blue Razz” Pop Rocks green? That’s a question not even candy experiments can answer.
Loralee Leavitt destroys candy for the sake of science at www.candyexperiments.com. Find more crazy experiments, like growing giant gummies, making candy crystals, or turning cotton candy into slime, in her book Candy Experiments.
*Experiment adapted from the Science Sparks blog