Pittsburgh’s Very Own, Vintage Clark Bar and Zagnut BarWednesday, November 11th, 2009 by Becca Droz
Denture Danger: 6 (It’s sure to get stuck in your teeth)
The Clark Bar is—as it says on the wrapper—“Chocoaltey Coated Peanut Butter Crunch.” I guess you could say this is Necco’s version of the Butterfinger. The filling is slightly different than the Butterfinger, however. The Clark bar has a little soft peanut butter snuck into the crunchy, flakey, filling which adds an extra bit of peanut buttery goodness.
In second grade I had a teacher named Mrs. Clark, naturally, her favorite candy was the Clark bar. I brought in a bag of Clark bars for the class and she took every wrapper and hung them around the bulletin board on the wall. Now Mrs. Clark was an advocate of the Clark bar, but she wasn’t the inventor.
Irish-born, David L. Clark, was a guy just trying to make a living like the rest of us. He went through working at a variety of jobs including at a fish market, an art glass factory, and a paint manufacturer. He founded the Clark Company in 1886 in two rooms of a small house in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, what is now the North Side of Pittsburgh.
The company continued to grow and was soon producing some of the nation’s favorite candies. Clark’s company experimented with ingredients such as coconut, mint, and peanut butter, which had never been used in candies before. Some of the most delicious and most popular of these innovative creations were the Clark bar and the Zagnut bar.
The Zagnut bar is basically the exact same thing as the Clark bar, but instead of the flakey peanut butter being coated in chocolate, it is coated in a sweet coconut shell. I know that there are a lot of people out there who don’t like coconut in their candies, but before you make that claim, try the Zagnut bar. The coconut flavor is far from overwhelming, and incorporates an excellent additional flavor to the crunchy peanut butter.
The Clark Company changed hands quite a bit. It was sold to the Beatrice Food Company in 1955, Leaf Inc. in 1983, renamed to Clark Bar America in 1995, and bought again by New England Confectionary Company (NECCO) in 1999, which is where it thrives today.
I feel like the Clark Bar and the Zagnut bar have declined in popularity in comparison to their cousin, the Butterfinger. I know that I had never even heard of the Zagnut bar until now and I think that is a shame. Not only is this candy an ultimate classic, not only was this candy originally produced in Pittsburgh (my home town), but this candy, along with his brother the Clark bar is absolutely delicious. So next time you are craving a Butterfinger, think back to David Clark and the struggles he must have gone through to create the delicious candy bar that is undoubtedly the candy that influenced the creation of the Butterfinger.