Did you know that during the Great Depression, candy was marketed as a healthy source of food? And that there was actually a candy that tasted like a chicken dinner?
During the 1920’s, candy makers were experimenting with tons of unique sweet confections in a booming candy industry. Some creations stood the test of time, while others (like the Chicken Dinner) vanished into obscurity only to be referenced decades later in jest.
We’ve rounded up some classic American candies that are still being sold today. You might be surprised at how old some of your favorite “modern” candies really are.
Necco Wafers were made in 1847, and were originally referred to as “hub wafers” by Union soldiers during the Civil War. When Chase Company merged with New England Confectionary Company in 1912, they changed the name to Necco Wafers.
Necco has managed to keep the recipe and design of the Necco Wafers the same since the 1900’s, thus making them about as boring to kids as American history itself.
Baby Ruth Bars
The classic Baby Ruth bar was first made by Curtiss Candy Company in 1921, and the origin of the name has been debated for decades. The company argued for years that the candy was NOT named after famous baseball player Babe Ruth. They maintained that the candy bar was actually named after Grover Cleveland’s daughter, Ruth Cleveland.
When that didn’t satisfy the general public, they said that it was named after the granddaughter of the candy maker who created the Baby Ruth recipe. Now, the etymology of the candy bar matters much less, as it has become a staple of modern American candy.
Bit-O-Honey bars were the first of its kind in 1924 and back then, it used to be a full-sized bar. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to finish a full-sized Bit-O-Honey bar? We sell them in their original form, but most Bit-O-Honeys are now miniature.
We have a feeling that most of the candy bars made in the Great Depression were meant to be eaten for well over an hour.
Abba Zaba Bars
The candy bar combines two of the most stickiest, stretchiest ingredients: peanut butter and vanilla flavored taffy. Some say the best way to eat an Abba Zaba is to freeze them, and squeeze the peanut butter out like toothpaste.
You can find them all over California, where Annabelle Candy Co. is based. If you don’t live in California and still need to get your Abba Zaba fix, we have plenty miniature Abba Zaba bars in stock that can be delivered to your front door.
Chuckles hit the candy scene in 1921. This jelly candy are coated in a layer of sugar, and come in 5 different flavors: lime, orange, cherry, yellow, and licorice. They can be compared to Sunkist Fruit Gems, but candy purists will tell you that Chuckles is far superior.
Although the chalky candy was first introduced in the 1930’s, it didn’t become a popular (and taboo) candy until the 1950’s. The candy was so taboo, in fact, that North Dakota banned them from 1953 until 1967. Eventually, the manufacturers had to remove the red tip and market them as “candy sticks.”
They might not technically (or legally) be referred to as candy cigarettes anymore, but we know what they really are-an amusing part of American nostalgia.
The Big Hunk bar is a 2-oz. hunk of honey-sweetened nougat and peanuts, similar to the Abba Zaba bars. On the wrapper, the company gives you instructions on how to eat the candy bar two ways: for a “snack attack”, smack it on a hard surface and eat it in pieces. For a “soft and chewy treat”, place it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds.
Whichever way you prefer to eat your Big Hunk, we’ve got you covered.
Oh Henry! Bars
The origin of the name of this candy bar isn’t clear; some say that it was named after a boy who would visit the factory and relentlessly flirt with girls. Others say that it’s an homage to the writer O. Henry.
Oh Henry! is a chocolate-covered mixture of peanuts and caramel and can be likened to a Baby Ruth bar. Don’t get the two confused, though!
This year marks the 100th birthday of these bite-sized peanut butter and molasses candies. Charles N. Miller started his own candy company with his three sons in 1884, manufacturing the candy in a home that was previously owned by Paul Revere. The company still makes their candy out of the city of Revere, Massachusetts.
Mary Jane candy is gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free, making it a popular choice for people looking for “healthy” candy options.
The main ingredient in chewing gum, “chicle”, was originally intended to be used for rubber products like toys, rain boots, and bicycle tires. When Thomas Adams became frustrated with his failed attempts, he stuck a piece of the chicle in his mouth and the rest is history.
In 1871, he started his own gum company, Adams New York Gum. It was so successful that in 1899 he merged 6 chewing gum companies into one. A salesman thought to wrap the gum in a hard candy shell, and Chiclets was added to the American Chicle Company in 1914.
Many refer to this candy bar as the white Snickers. Back in the 1920’s, however, it stood alone as a very unique and almost “space age” candy bar. At Zero’s center is a mixture of nougat, almonds, and peanuts which are generously covered in white chocolate. Since most candy bars were coated in milk chocolate, the Zero bar was truly unique.
It was originally dubbed the Double Zero bar, but was shortened to Zero in 1934. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t contain zero calories.
Chick-O-Stick is one of the most popular vintage candies in America, and it’s still being manufactured by the company that created it. Atkinson Company is one of the only classic American candy companies that survived big-box brand takeovers.
Even though the candy’s name and packaging were a result of its likeness to fried chicken, it’s actually made of peanut butter and coconut. It tastes very similar to Butterfinger bars, without the chocolate coating. If you haven’t tried them yet, they’re tons of fun to eat. Break off a piece of the Chick-O-Stick at your next event! We also have mini versions.
Clark’s Teaberry Gum
Clark’s Teaberry Gum was first invented in the early 1900’s. Although you might not have ever heard of it before, it actually had its own dance in the 1960’s. Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass recorded a version of their song “Mexican Shuffle” called “Teaberry Shuffle”, and it helped both parties rise to fame.
It was the first of its kind-no one had tried to make a truffle candy bar before. In fact, chocolate truffles had only been discovered two decades prior. While smaller than the standard candy bars of the Great Depression era, U-No bars quickly became a favorite and still maintains a staunch following. We know that U-No you can get those bars at Candy Direct.
The golf-ball sized candy is covered in chocolate, and has a real maraschino cherry center mixed with peanuts. Many companies tried to replicate the Cherry Mash recipe over the years, but it remains the most popular version of cherry and chocolate. Get your Cherry Mash fix with us!
The design for the Butterfinger wrapper hasn’t changed much since its conception in 1923. Check out this vintage wrapper from when Butterfinger was owned by Curtiss Candy Company; it seems that only the company logo has changed.
The year the Butterfinger was made, the bars were dropped out of a plane as a marketing tactic in several cities in the US. No one was hurt in the process-all of the Butterfingers were equipped with mini parachutes. Our bulk Butterfingers aren’t, however. We do ground shipping.