Posts Tagged ‘history’

Candy History: Brach’s Chocolate Stars

Thursday, December 12th, 2013 by Jessica Prokop

Ask anyone on the street if they’ve ever heard of Brach’s candy and they’ll probably think of those infamous bulk bins in the grocery store. Or, they may sing you a little jingle, “Stop where you are, buy a Brach’s candy bar.” But do you know how it all began?

As it turns out, Brach’s is almost 110 years old, as the first store was opened all the way back in 1904. Brach’s was created by a German immigrant by the name of Emil J. Brach. And, believe it or not, the store in 1904 was his second attempt at starting a candy business. His first, in the late 1800s, was a complete failure.

brachs-stars-retro-adBrach’s Booms

The first Brach products were caramels, made in the back of the store and displayed at the front as a way to lure in customers. And lure them in it did! Between 1906 and 1913, the Chicago-based company had to move locations three times to keep up with expansion due to high demand.

It’s no surprise that they were so popular, too! Brach’s has always prided itself on quality, being the first candy company to institute what we might call quality control on candies coming off the line.

Star Quality

Back in the day, Brach shipped his candies by horse, car, mail, and train. So you could have your candies, no matter how near or far you were to the store. That dedication to customer satisfaction is one of the main reasons Brach’s has stayed in business for so long.

The Brachs kept the business in the family for a long time, too, only selling to a non-family buyer in 1966. But the change in ownership didn’t change anything about the taste! Those Chocolate Stars are still sure to be as good as you remember.

brachs-candy-companyToday, Brach’s abandoned factory has some film credit fame to its name, as it became Gotham Hospital in the 2008 movie, The Dark Knight. Cool, right? And since you can’t make delicious confections in a decaying building, you can rest assured knowing that your Brach’s candies are made safely in Texas by company Farley’s & Sathers.

Brach’s is truly a company for the ages. What started as a niche has exploded into a huge candy empire, reaching sweet tooths, everywhere.

Source Material:

  • http://www.candyblog.net/blog/item/brachs_milk_chocolate_stars
  • http://americanurbex.com/wordpress/?p=779
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brach’s

Image Sources:

  • http://americanurbex.com/wordpress/?p=779
  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/jon_williamson/4394507133/

What’s a Cordial Cherry, Anyway?

Thursday, December 12th, 2013 by Jessica Prokop

cherry-cordials-inventedA Cordial Past

Cordialed cherries have always been a huge hit around the holidays. They’re sweet and perfectly festive- a treat normally reserved for this time of year. But did you realize just how old the method of cordialing is? If not, let’s just say that it’s a little older than you may be expecting.

Cordials for the Heart

In fact, cordials started being made hundreds of years ago, during the Renaissance. They were originally made for medicinal purposes, as the strong flavor was thought to promote health. The meaning of the word itself betrays earlier thoughts that cordials were good for the heart, as “cor” means heart in Latin.

First produced in Italy, this heart-helping drink slowly spread its influence throughout all of Europe. And, over time, this purely medicinal beverage became something of a social-statement, as cordials evolved into what we know today as liquors.

Cordials and Candy

Liquors are often the perfect remedy to a cold winters night, so it’s no surprise that home cooks soon began soaking their fruits in the stuff! What could be more delicious and practical than liquor that you can both drink and make candy with? Our forefathers really knew what they were doing.

chocolate-covered-cherries-cordial-with-cream-2Generations of cordial recipes have been passed down over the years, and many families still make their own, today. Cherries tend to be the most popular cordialed fruit, as the cherry lends itself well to soaking and then being smothered in chocolate. But cordialing takes time- months in fact, to wait for the fruit to sufficiently imbibe itself with the delicious liquor it’s soaking in. And who wants to wait for that? So if waiting is not quite your thing, check out Brach’s Villa Cherries. They might be just what you need to remind yourself of holidays of old.

This year, treat yourself and your loved ones to a taste that has almost outlasted the test of time. Be sure to add cordialed cherries to your shopping list.

Image Sources:

  • http://www.icollector.com/VINTAGE-CHERRIES-IN-CORDIAL-1-CENT-CANDY-STORE-ADVERTISING-DISPLAY-BOX_i10454308
  • http://www.etsy.com/listing/84684087/antique-vintage-schraffts-chocolate

Sources:

  • http://www.historicfood.com/rosolio.htm
  • http://voices.yahoo.com/how-distill-cherry-cordials-home-637483.html?cat=22
  • http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-cherry-cordial.htm
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordial_(medicine)

Candy History: Necco Peach Blossoms

Saturday, December 7th, 2013 by Laurnie Wilson

A Peach Blossom A Day

Peach Blossoms are a candy that tastes as sweet as it sounds. A truly American treat, they also happen to be made by an American company with a history that stretches far longer than you may have expected.

It all started back in 1847. It was in this fateful year that a man by the name of Oliver Chase invented the lozenge cutter. Chase was a pharmacist, so he wasn’t necessarily in the candy-making business. But, as it turns out, the creation of this machine, which allowed long ropes of sugar to be cut into manageable pieces, was just what the confectionary doctor had ordered.

retro-necco-peach-blossomsIn fact, the machine was first used to slice up what we know today as NECCO Wafers. Originally used as cough drops, or a way to soothe the stomach, these wafers were yet to come into their candy prime. Alas, who would have known that a simple little machine, similar to a pasta maker, would have such an impact on U.S. candy production?

Peach Blossoms Blossom

In 1901, Chase & Company, Hayward & Company, and Wright & Moody – three pre-Civil-War-era candy companies – joined forces to become NECCO: the New England Confectionary Company that we know and love today.

Four years later, in 1905, NECCO introduced Peach Blossoms. And the smooth peanut butter, wrapped in a crunchy candy coating has been delighting sweet tooths ever since.

But, don’t expect Peach Blossoms to actually taste like peaches. The candy is more reminiscent of the flower than the fruit, as there’s no peach flavoring inside. Somehow, the misleading name has never been a turnoff, as generations have been enjoying the candy ever since.

buy-necco-peach-blossoms-onlinePeachy Keen

Today, Peach Blossoms are manufactured in Revere, Massachusetts. The factory still uses many machines that have been around since before World War II and relies on real live workers to add food coloring and whisk mixtures – no fully automated candy production, here! So the Peach Blossoms you buy today are made with the same personal touch that has been sweetening every batch for decades.

Source Material:

  • http://boston1905.blogspot.com/2009/08/new-england-confectionary-company-necco.html
  • http://www.necco.com/About.aspx
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peach_Blossoms
  • http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2013/2/15/necco-factory-tour/#
  • http://candyprofessor.com/2009/10/02/olive-chase-necco-wafers/

Image Sources:

  • http://www.ebay.com/itm/Old-Vintage-Tin-Can-Necco-Sweets-Hard-Candies-Peach-Blossoms-/121221448652

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.

abba-zaba-cartoon

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.

Sources

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abba-Zaba
  • http://www.candywrappermuseum.com/abbazaba.html
  • http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/08/abba-zaba-candy-taffy-peanut-butter-you-my-only-friend.html
  • https://www.facebook.com/ABBAZABA

 

 

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.

——

Sources:

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cracker_Jack
  • http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blcrackerjacks.htm
  • http://www.delish.com/food-fun/cracker-jack-history-snack-foods#slide-2

Candy History: Zero Bars

Thursday, October 24th, 2013 by Laurnie Wilson

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.

zero-bar-todayOver 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.

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).
valomilk-logo2

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.

valomilk-dips

 

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

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.

vintage-necco-wafers

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

vintage-clark-bar-postcard

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.