History of Candy Bars

by Jon Prince

For a while, the Maya and the Aztecs were the only ones enjoying the fruit of the cacao tree, something they had done for thousands of years. In the 16th Century, Spanish explorer Hernan Cortez paid a visit to the Aztecs and when he met their leader, Montezuma, he got a taste of the spicy, chocolate drink that was a local treasure.

Nothing beats a Hershey KitKat Candy Bar

Cortez returned to Spain with the recipe (we like to imagine it scribbled on a Post-it note) and a stash of cacao beans and the chocolate drink quickly became a favorite delicacy in the aristocratic circle.

For a while, the rich Europeans had all the fun, but over the next couple of centuries, cacoa and sugar became widely traded in Europe and North America, filling the growing demand for the chocolate drink among all the classes. In 1847, Englishman Joseph Fry figured out a way to create a chocolate paste to press into a mold, thus creating the candy bar. Nice going, Mr. Fry.

In 1875, Henry Nestle realized that adding milk to the chocolate mixture makes it less bitter, another major milestone in the world of chocolate, soon followed by an even bigger one.

The 1893 Chicago World’s Fair featured chocolate making machines that caught Milton Hershey’s eye (he was already rich from making caramel, but saw even more opportunity in chocolate, smart man). One year later, the world got the first chocolate bar from Hershey, marking the beginning of the mass-produced American candy bar.

The candy bar genealogy from that point goes something like this: Clark Bar (1916), Oh Henry! (1920), Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (1922), Baby Ruth and Milky Way (1923), Mr. Goodbar (1925), Snickers (1930), 3 Musketeers (1932), Kit Kat (1933), and Nestle’s Crunch (1938) (for more juicy details, check out our Candy Timeline).

With mechanized candy bar production that began in the 40’s, the market became flooded with new and inventive candy bar creations, to the tune of 40,000 over the years. We don’t have quite that many candy bars on our site, but we do have a lot, and surely there are some you haven’t tried. Call it a history lesson and dive into our Candy Bar selection and fill in those gaps.

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