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Classic Candy: America’s Favorite Sweets, 1950–80

Classic Candy: America’s Favorite Sweets, 1950–80

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Classic Candy: America’s Favorite Sweets, 1950–80

3/5 (2 evaluări)
110 pages
32 minutes
May 10, 2013


Whether classics like Hershey's, Mars and M&Ms or trend-setters like PEZ and Atomic Fireballs, candy has a special place in the hearts and memories of most Americans, who to this day consume more than 600 billion pounds of it each year. In this colorful illustrated guide, Darlene Lacey looks at candy in America from a variety of angles, examining everything from chocolate to fruity sweets and from the simply packaged basics to gaudy product tie-ins. She examines the classic brands of the late twentieth century and what they mean, guiding us on a mouth-watering, sugar-fueled trip down a memory lane filled with signposts like Bazooka, Clark, Necco and Tootsie Roll.
May 10, 2013

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Classic Candy - Darlene Lacey



THERE IS SOMETHING irresistibly charming about American candy from the 1950s through the 1980s. The candy industry was at its peak in terms of variety, inventiveness, and ability to elicit great nostalgia to this day from those who enjoyed it. With families reunited and settling down after World War II and children springing up everywhere, the creative minds in America responded with a burst of sweet treats for people to eat.

There was seemingly no limit to the variety of candy, the availability of candy, and the fun-filled ways that candy was packaged and sold. Who could resist a Baffle Bar? Pop Rocks? A Purple Cow? A Baby Ruth ad proclaimed, Dig that nutty candy bar, and that’s exactly what Americans did. Drugstores, dime stores, and drive-ins displayed tantalizing arrays of candy of all shapes, flavors, and sizes, colorfully wrapped and cheerfully named, beckoning people to make one their favorite. Should it be something some light? Something that lasted a long time? Something that burst in your mouth? Something that wouldn’t melt in your hand? The choices went on and on.

During this period, the Big Three—Hershey, Mars, and Nestle—vied to be number one while other big names of the time—Tootsie, Peter Paul, Curtiss, Just Born, Ferrara Pan, Hollywood, and Heide—looked to carve out their share of the market. A multitude of candy bars appeared on the shelves and then disappeared after a fleeting moment in time, almost as if they were Top 40 records. Candy was a pop culture phenomenon that rarely took center stage in the media, but was always a supporting player in the American experience.

Over the decades, consolidation of the industry has caused some of these names to fade while others have grown stronger. Many favorite candies have vanished from the American scene, although many also remain. But the excitement and energy from this period no longer exists and may never return, making it a special time for Americans who fondly remember this golden age of classic candy.

Illustration by pinup artist Gil Elvgren on a 1950s Pangburn’s assorted chocolates box.


NO MATTER where one lived or what one did in America during the decades between the 1950s and the 1980s, candy was within reach. Almost every type of retail business featured a candy counter or vending machine, and candy was even sold door to door.

Neighborhood drug store and dime store candy counters were commonplace back then. Five and dimes such as Woolworth’s, J. J. Newberry’s, and Grant’s usually featured a lunch counter or soda fountain along with a candy counter, a convenience that began to fade by the 1960s due to the growing popularity of fast food chains.

One of the mainstays of the American candy counter was penny candy, which children would scrutinize for great lengths of time as they tried to get the most satisfaction out of their allowances. Popular penny candy included licorice whips, hard candy sticks, jawbreakers, bubblegum, root beer barrels, caramels, suckers, and peanut butter-flavored Mary Janes.

Larger drug stores and department stores had candy departments featuring boxed chocolate from Russell Stover, Barton’s, Pangburn’s, and Schrafft’s. These stores also offered a more upscale selection of candy displayed in glass bins, ready to be scooped and weighed by smartly dressed clerks working the counter. One might buy bridge mix, malted milk balls, Swedish fish, chocolate stars, and M&M’s by the pound.

Newsstands, service stations, and convenience stores were especially well stocked with candy. By the 1970s, summertime for many American children meant enjoying a bag of candy along with a Slurpee or Icee frozen drink from the local 7-11, Circle K, or Stop-N-Go. Restaurants offered candy, gum, or mints at the counter, and penny and nickel vending machines stood by the doorways, dispensing gum or candy such as Boston Baked Beans, Chiclets, and Mike and Ikes by the handful.

Family-owned candy shops, with candy made on the premises, were commonplace during the early twentieth century. A few, such as Wittich’s Candy Shop in Ohio and McCord Candies in Indiana, still operate, with

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