Milky Way: It’s Milk!

May 11, 2011 at 11:39 am Leave a comment

I always figured that Milky Way candy bar was named after the galaxy. But as this 1960s TV ad reveals, the “milky” in Milky Way is meant to be taken literally:

These days, we assume “junky candy bar” is about as far as you can get from “wholesome glass of milk.” But if you follow this ad, it turns out Milky Way isn’t a candy bar at all! It’s  “good food bar”! How can you resist the images of all the natural food products that go into the candy bar: corn, eggs, milk from a gentle cow. The logic goes like this: candy comes from food, so candy IS food.

And where in this ad is the Milky Way? If you take away the voice-over and just look at the moving picture, you might conclude that this is a promotion for American family farms and fresh, local produce. Unlike most candy ads, there are no images at all of the actual candy bar until the final tag, which shows the candy safe in its wrapper. So what ever is in that wrapper, one thing we know is that it came from the farm.

It’s a fantastic idea: candy that grows on the farm. Slapping a picture of a barn or an ear of corn on the package of some highly processed food product is a pretty familiar ploy. We talk a lot about “real food” these days. The wish for “real food” isn’t new, though. This Milky Way ad suggests that even in the 1960s, an era that enthusiastically embraced all the wonders of food science, consumers  hoped that inside the wrapper the food would still be wholesome and have some relation to things that grow. And advertisers, then and now, bank on consumers not being able to tell the difference between a pretty picture and the truth.

Entry filed under: Candy as Food, Marketing.

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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.

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