Kandy Kake before Baby Ruth

July 16, 2010 at 12:22 pm Leave a comment

OK, first, let’s just clarify. The Kandy Kake was not cake. There was no pastry center, no matter what you’ve heard elsewhere. But we’re getting ahead of our story.

Curtiss Candy Company is best known today as the name behind Baby Ruth candy bar. Baby Ruth is one of the most well-known candy bar success stories of the 1920s. But Curtiss had lots of other candy bars before they came up with the Baby Ruth formula and name.

In 1919, Curtiss was advertising an array of candy bars which were all pretty forgettable. This 1919 Confectioners Journal ad includes the Maple Nut Bar, Vanilla Nut  Bar, Vanilla Fruit Bar, and Chocolate Fruit Bar, among others which seemed, brand wise, sort of all over the place:

The big push seemed to be for two bars, the Vanilla Coconut Bar and the Polar Bar, symbolized in the marketing materials as the Monkey and the Polar Bear:

The ad copy reads:

The Monkey and the Polar Bear are two of the attractive features that cast a certain charm about the name of Curtiss Candies. They carry a new appeal to the eye, by their attractive wrappers, and to the appetite, by their distinctive quality.

Sweet, but a little…I don’t know, just a little not quite there. As the self-conscious reference to the wrapper suggests, Curtiss is wading into the new waters of marketing and is still feeling its way.

But within a year, Curtiss finds its candy bar footing with a new sensation: Kandy Kake.

Kandy Kake was “chocolate pudding, nut topping” coated in chocolate. Well, not really “pudding,” but they didn’t know what else to call it, I suppose:

Chocolate flavored [pudding center]–a candy with a new consistency, richer than marshmallow, fluffier than nougat, better than either of them.

Kandy Kake came with a great story, too:

Here’s how it took hold in Chicago: In the heart of the business district in a few square blocks, Kandy Kake was placed on 249 candy counters in less than three weeks. Repeat orders started the second day, and are now 100%–every one of the 249 stands repeating from one to eight times and still ordering. Kandy Kake will do it in your town too!

Curtiss started making Kandy Kake earlier than 1920, but this was the real marketing push. This Kandy Kake ad appeared in the December 1920 issue of Confectioners Journal. Baby Ruth is still about a year in the future for Curtiss. Other “Curtiss hits” are mentioned in this 1920 ad including Jolly Jacks, Marsh-o-Nut, and Divinity Hash Fudge (this is the back side of the “poster” image above):

The Kandy Kake is usually mentioned in stories of Baby Ruth as the antecedent to the Baby Ruth bar. But I am keeping my eyes out for the rest of this story. Baby Ruth, at least today, is chocolate, peanuts, caramel and nougat. I see the resemblance, but the combination of chocolate, peanuts, and something was pretty common in the day. I’ll keep Candy Professor readers posted with my future Baby Ruth findings.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Icy Hot: New Summer Candies, 1920 Suckers: From Candy Sticks to Candy on a Stick

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Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure

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Candy in American Culture What is it about candy? Here you'll find the forgotten, the strange, the curious, the surprising. Our candy story, one post at a time.

(C) Samira Kawash

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