The History of Candy Cigarettes
by Laurnie Wilson
If you were a kid during or before the 60’s and early 70’s, you may remember having plenty of access to these guys. Catchy and controversial, this candy had a divided following. Which candy is this, you might ask? Candy cigarettes, of course!
Candy Cigarettes: The Early Days
The history of candy cigarettes goes all the way back to the early 1930’s, when the candy was first introduced to the American market. Back then, smoking wasn’t seen as the health concern it is today, so the public didn't think it was a super big deal to allow children to pretend to smoke with these sugary imitations.
It wasn’t until the 1950s when things started to go sour for the candies. It was in this decade and the one that followed that the first health reports on the dangers of smoking were released, sending a red flag to parents everywhere.
A Smoking Candy Controversy
One of the problems with candy cigarettes was that they were just so convincing. Early brands had names modeled after real cigarette companies. Viceroy became Viceyo. Marlboro became Marboro. Camel became Acmel, and Winston became Winstun. What’s more, the packaging mimicked real cigarettes as well, so that these mint-flavored candies almost perfectly mimicked the real thing.
Parents worried that the candies, convincing replicas of what were now known to be dangerous carcinogens, desensitized children to smoking and made them more likely to use real cigarettes as adults. And as it turns out, studies have shown that fear to be true!
Candy Cigarettes: New and Improved?
Although much hubbub was raised over the danger of these little guys, only one state, North Dakota, actually banned the sale of them from 1953-1967. The United States considered national bans on candy cigarettes, both in 1970 and 1991, but neither passed.
Not long after the 1970 bill consideration, however, the word “cigarette” disappeared from candy cigarette packaging, to be replaced by the word “sticks,” in what was probably an attempt to make the candy less controversial. By that point, though, candy cigarettes had gained a reputation they couldn’t shake off quite so easily.
Candy Cigarettes in the 21st Century
Today, candy cigarettes are substantially more difficult to find. In fact, many countries, like Brazil, Finland, Norway, the Republic of Ireland, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia have completely banned the sale of candy cigarettes.
While they may be harder to find now than ever before, we have both Classic Candy Cigarettes and Bubble Gum Candy Cigarettes, so you can be sure to get your hands on a nostalgic favorite and relive some of the sweetest controversy around.