1951 Goelitz Candy Corn Ad
Today is Candy Corn Day! Here’s an ad from Peoples Drug Store, in The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA) , 4 Oct 1951, p 22
This ad ran in a local newspaper in early October in 1951. It’s just a little ad, but the details tell us quite a lot.
Goelitz was among the largest candy corn manufacturers of the day. Bill Kelley, who is the fourth candy making generation descended from the original Goelitz making-family, tells me that Goelitz had a dozen factories around the country churning out candy corn around that time, including Chicago, Rochester NY, Midland Park NJ, Brooklyn, Dallas. He passed along this story about the great 1951 Halloween candy corn disaster (personal communication):
The Midland Park, NJ plant burned to the ground just before Halloween 1951. Naturally, the orders due to be shipped could not be filled so the company sent every customer whose order could not be shipped a check for 10% of the value of the order.
A nice gesture, but I’d rather have the candy! You can still buy the same candy corn under the “Jelly Belly” brand: the company changed its name, but boasts of being the longest continuous candy corn producer in the nation (since 1898).
The Goelitz chicken logo here appears as a stylized profile. I haven’t yet discovered when they stopped using the chicken, which for us today seems a strange candy mascot. But for Americans in the first part of the century, candy corn was corn, and corn was chicken feed. The chicken was featured in Goelitz packaging and advertising going back to the 1920s.
The candy is packaged in a one-pound cellophane bag. In the early 20th century, candy corn was sold primarily “penny candy,” out of big wooden tubs or smaller five pound boxes. Here’s a photo from the Goelitz factory in Chicago, from sometime in the late ‘teens, you can see the tubs of candy corn piled up for shipment.
In the late 1940s, candy makers started packaging their small goods in bags like the one in the ad, commonly termed “family size.” More and more foods were being sold at self-service supermarkets. Cellophane was a hugely popular packaging material for these self-service retailers because it was transparent (more on cellophane packaging: Fresher in Cellophane). For colorful candies, this transparency made the goods especially attractive at the point of sale.
The ad refers to “buttery flavor mellow cream candy corn.” This name is a mash-up of almost all the terms ever used to designate this candy. When candy corn first appeared in the 1880s, it was a species of what was called “butter cream” candy. This did not, as far as I can tell, mean that the candy was made with actual dairy butter. Some candy makers may have made a simple fondant, with sugar, corn syrup and water: cooked correctly, this would create a smooth texture, and the salt and vanilla flavoring might also evoke butter. Others may have used recipes incorporating other ingredients to create a richer candy. One commercial recipe from 1922 calls for condensed milk and “Nuco butter,” which is a commercial vegetable fat that was common in that day.
In the 1950s, the term “mellowcreme” or “mellocreme” begins to be used in place of “butter cream.” I suspect the absence of either butter or cream in a candy called “butter cream” may have put some pressure on manufactures to use a less misleading name. Mellowcreme was not a traditional candy name; in the 1920s and 1930s I have found references to “Mello-Cream” used as a brand name for cheese and ice cream, but not candy.
Finally, there is the legend “the candy children love to nibble on all year long.” This ad appears in the first week of October. In the 1950s, candy for Halloween was not generally advertised or purchased until the last few days of the month. This is not a Halloween candy ad. Candy corn was associated with the fall generally, as it had the colors and corn reference that connects with the fall harvest. But the ad also describes candy corn eating as “all year long.” In the first part of the century, candy corn was a much more neutral candy, and would have been sold along side caramels, marshmallows and candy sticks in every candy shop in any month.
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