Sweet Treats from Days Gone By - Part 1 | 1900 through the 1950’s March 28 2015
The candy we eat as a child can evoke intense feelings of nostalgia and vivid memories as an adult. Do you remember saving your pennies and nickels to get candy at the drug store? Alternatively, maybe the candy jar of cinnamon bears that your Grandmother always had on her kitchen counter? Many of these vintage and retro candy brands are still cherished today, and candy is something that never goes out of style. Let’s walk down memory lane and reminisce about some of the nostalgic treats that are still loved by kids and adults today.
Candy Before the 1920’s
Penny candy was the classic treat enjoyed by children before the 1920’s. Originally purchased across wooden counters at neighborhood general stores, Mary Janes, Peppermint Puffs, Rock Candy, Tootsie Rolls, and Juicy Fruit Gum are some of the “penny” candies that are still popular sweets today.
Cracker Jacks debuted in 1893 at the World’s Fair in Chicago and quickly became synonymous with afternoons at the ballpark; who does not love the surprise in every box? Saltwater Taffy and Jordan Almonds are still great choices for hostess gifts, while fun retro candies like Goo Goo Clusters, Good & Plenty, and Nik L Nips Wax Bottles will put a smile on anyone's face.
The Roaring Twenties, best known for flapper girls dancing the night away, Babe Ruth’s performance on the baseball field, and endless dance marathons. Named after the dance step of the decade, the Charleston Chew still invokes a good time. Although the name of the Baby Ruth candy bar sounds like that of Babe Ruth, the Curtiss Candy Company had traditionally claimed it was named after President Grover Cleveland's daughter, “Baby” Ruth Cleveland.
More sophisticated technology started to revolutionize the candy world and there seemed to be boundless energy and optimism, this lead to the creation of some of the biggest names in the candy industry for the last century. Brands such as Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Butterfingers, and Milk Duds first arrived during this peak of productivity.
Other honorable mentions from the ‘20s are real throwbacks like Chick-O-Sticks, Slo Pokes, and Teaberry Chewing Gum.
As the Great Depression descended on America times got tough, but candy from the 1930's was still fantastic. As superheroes, Superman and Batman came on the scene in the 30’s we were also introduced to 3 Musketeers, Kit Kat, PayDay, and Snickers. 5 and Dime candy favorites like Boston Baked Beans, Licorice Snaps, and Red Hots will still make an impression on children today who have most likely never tried them.
But wait, there’s more. You may not have heard of lesser-known candies, Valomilk Candy Cups and Choward’s Violet Mints, but they can still be found in specialty candy shops across the country and online.
During the first half of the 1940’s the effects of World War II caused sugar shortages, and wartime manufacturing was emphasized making candy innovation and production an afterthought. However, post-war candy production re-energized in 1945 giving us several iconic candies.
Heath Bars were introduced in 1914 but they became quite popular in the 1940’s since they were included in soldiers’ ration kits as a nutritional supplement. The iconic M&M's Plain Chocolate Candies were released in 1941, designed to motivate sagging chocolate sales.
The iconic 1940's candy though would have to be Bazooka Bubble Gum. Packaged in all-American red, white, and blue, Bazooka gum is the candy most associated with American sweets around the world. Many people think that Bazooka gum was named after the weapon but it was, in fact, named after a musical instrument.
Other fun candies that debuted in the 40’s are Bonomo Turkish Taffy, Licorice Laces, Junior Mints, and the perennial favorite Fun Dip.
Remember when the biggest decision you made in a day was whether to play with your yo-yo or your hula-hoop? The 1950’s gave us Rock ‘N Roll, Poodle Skirts and Sock Hops and it also gave us some great candy favorites, like Bubble Gum Candy Cigarettes, Candy Necklaces and Pop Rocks.
PEZ candy was first established in Austria during the 1920’s but it was in the 1950’s that the company introduced fruity flavors and the iconic character dispensers. The full body Santa, full body Robot, and the Space Gun were the first dispenser designs, taking advantage of the space-age and futuristic trends of the decade.
What would Easter be like without the ubiquitous marshmallow Peeps, first introduced in 1954. That same year Ferrara Pan created their Atomic Fireballs which played on the Atomic themes of the times and gave kids a hot and spicy candy to rival Hot Tamales which came out in 1950.