Posts filed under ‘Candies We Miss’

Toasted Mallows for Toasty Days

Hot hot hot. Memorial day, and the mercury is rising.

As you probably  learned the day you left a Hershey bar out on your dashboard, heat and humidity are not kind to candy. Many candy factories essentially shut down over the summer before the days of artificial “climate control.” The enterprising candy maker looked for items that would weather the weather (har har): something that wouldn’t melt or get sticky or fall apart when the temperature rises.

Here’s a 1907 ad for Toasted Mallows, a hot-weather specialty:

“When the Mercury Goes Up, Toasted Mallows Go Down.” Not bad for a candy slogan.

Toasted Mallows are marshmallows coated in toasted cocoanut. I love the funny “toasted mallow” character at the top. He looks a little like an oversized shredded wheat biscuit.

The ad copy reads

Here’s a lot of profit and candy goodness for your trade worth investigating. A summer confection that thrives when the temperature hovers in the nineties.

What really caught my eye in this ad was the photo of the young people eating the candy. This is an unusual image for the advertising of the day, most of which relies on hand drawings rather than photos. Who are these boys and girls? I imagine they might actually be employees of the Darby Candy Company. Or perhaps, given that they all seem about the same age, these are students who got a lucky chance to eat some candy in exchange for posing for this photo.

These shaggy looking treats are pretty plain by our candy standards. Today you can still buy “Toasted Mallows” or “Toasted Coconut Marshmallows” as a specialty confectionery item, although they seem more popular in Canada and Australia than in the U.S. Kraft makes a “Jet-Puffed Marshmallow” with toasted coconut. But it’s not the kind of thing you see flying off the shelves, at least not in any of the places I know. In fact, until I was researching this post I didn’t know of the existence of this product.

This bag puzzles me. I think I would find this bag in the grocery store and not really know what to do with the contents.  Do you just eat it out of the bag? Or do you do something else with it? For the Darby girls and boys, Toasted Mallows was clearly a candy. But this Kraft bag poses the mystery of the marshmallow: is it candy? or is it some other kind of grocery item?

Source: 1907 ad for the Darby Candy Company of Baltimore, Maryland appeared in Confectioners Journal.

May 31, 2010 at 7:22 am 10 comments

Mason’s Peaks

I learned recently that a famous candy factory used to be just down the road from where I live in Brooklyn.

This is the old factory of Mason, Au and Magenheimer, known for the Cocoanut Peaks candy bar and Mason Mints, neither of which we’ve seen in decades, and also Dots and Black Crows, now made under the Tootsie Roll brand. (Click here to read more about Black Crows.)

I went down yesterday to take this photo. The building is currently covered in scaffolding, as you can see. It’s been this way for a couple of years. Developers bought the brick factory with the intention of converting it into luxury condos. And then the bottom fell out of the luxury condo market (remember 2008?), so the work stopped and the building just sits. The building is being marketed as 20 Henry Street (they are playing up the historical significance in their marketing materials, with old-time photos on the web site). Back when Mason, Au and Magenheimer were making their candies there, it was known as 22-28 Henry Street. I wonder if you can still smell the chocolate?

The hyphenated address suggests that the site previously was a series of buildings that was torn down to make room for the factory (to confirm this I’d have to go check in the Brooklyn Historical Society records).  But Mason, Au and Magenheimer listed a different address in their 1911 application to trademark the name “Black Crows”: 22-28 Middagh Street, which is around the corner and down a couple of blocks. These buildings are still standing (although I could only find 24, 26, and 28):

Mason’s Peaks were the most popular of their offerings in the 1920s. It was the decade of the candy bar. Peaks was an early, rough version. It looks a little like a shaggy potato dipped in chocolate. The filling is coconut, one of the most popular of the day. (See my post on Candy Bar Fillers for more.)

Mason described them more poetically, “like snow-clad mountains in their purity.” The boxes and store placards featured a snow-capped mountain in the background with a waving cocoanut tree in the foreground, an intriguing if somewhat perplexing geographical reference.

Candy bars were pretty versatile back in the day. Mason suggested these Ice Cream Fountain specialties, all variations of cutting up a candy bar and putting it with a scoop of ice cream.

One candy and ice cream shop in Shinglehouse, Pennsylvania even figured out how to melt down the Peaks bar to create a new ice cream topping for a “Peaks Sundae.”  Mr. H.P. Toner wrote to Mason to tell them how excited he was about the Peaks candy:

I never had a bar that sold like PEAKS. I am making my store a PEAKS store, displaying the empties all over.

Peaks ads from Confectioners Journal, 1919.

May 12, 2010 at 9:56 am 4 comments

Whitman’s and Wilbur’s at the Candy Counter, 1913

In it’s May 1913 issue, the trade journal International Confectioner featured some of the five and ten cent packages offered by the better known candy makers. Such packaging of candy was still relatively novel; not every candy was put up in its own wrapping, and a lot of candy was put in bags or fancier boxes at the time of purchase, requiring the service of a clerk. The editor introduced the feature with some comments on the virtues of these new packages (as well as some run on sentences):

These are the goods that sell themselves, as they lay upon the retailers’ counter, the customer cannot help picking one up and paying his money, the reason is, that they look so tempting and are so easily bought; for it must be remembered that the public is extremely lazy and will sometimes not even take the trouble to ask the price.

Most of the goods featured are from manufacturers long gone. But two are still around today: H. O. Wilbur and Son, and Stephen F. Whitman, both of Philadelphia. Today, Wilbur is owned by Cargill, and Whitman’s by Russell Stover, but the brand and the tradition of each go way back into the nineteeth century.

So what were these venerable confectioners selling one hundred years ago in the five and ten cent lines?

Here are some of Wilbur’s offerings. The Wilbur Bud (2) was a huge success of course: little cones of chocolate wrapped in foil. But Wilbur also made a line of eating chocolates, as pictured here. The depiction of the little cherub stirring the chocolate is especially charming. The editor points out that these confections are well known since Wilbur had, by 1912, been selling chocolates for thirty years. Wilbur’s American Milk Chocolate (1) is “one of the first milk chocolates made in this country.” Wilbur’s Sweet Clover Chocolate was “advertised for outdoors and for the camper, hunter, etc.,” a rugged image at odds with the dainty wrapper. The Milk Chocolate is a five cent bar, the rest are ten cents.

Today we associate the name “Whitman’s” with the Whitman’s Sampler, that box of mixed chocolate candies that everyone has given and received at least once. But here we see Whitman’s with a full assortment of offerings, including spice gum drops, nut nougat (in vanilla, chocolate or strawberry), Jordan almonds (assorted flavors), cream cocoanut bar, “Mallo-Caros” (caramel with marshmallow center) and the unfortunate and embarrassing “Pickaninny Peppermints.”

About those Pickaninny Peppermints: stylized and stereotypical images of African Americans were not uncommon in the packaging and advertising of goods in the twentieth century. Truly, it was not until the Civil Rights movement that such images became widely regarded as prejudiced and unacceptable. My first impulse was just to not post this, as it feels offensive to our sense of civility and mutual respect for every citizen. But this is what it was, not always pretty. It’s worth noting that such images did not appear very frequently in candy packaging, at least not in the sources that I have had access to.

Wikipedia’s entry on Whitman  Candies tells the rest of the story of Pickaninny Peppermints:

In the early 20th century, Pickaninny Peppermints were a popular Whitman confection. However, future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and, at the time, NAACP lawyer took issue with the name. In a 1941 article directed at Whitman’s published in the Afro-American, Marshall urged Whitman’s Candies to realize its racial insensitivity. Whitman’s denied that the term “pickaninny” was racist and responded to Marshall by saying that it meant “cute colored kid.” Despite this, the product was soon dropped. (Reference: Baltimore Afro-American, Nov. 22 1941, p.1)

For more on Wilbur and the Wilbur Buds, see my posts: Kissing Cousins: the Hershey’s Kiss and the Wilbur Bud and Hershey’s: Why a Kiss is Just a Kiss

April 9, 2010 at 8:25 am 1 comment

Early Toy Novelties: Kandyskope

You’ve noticed all the Easter candy toy novelties on the shelves this time of year. Yesterday, my daughter and I were admiring a bird house filled with jelly beans, and a clever little bicycling rabbit with a swirly lollypop in the rear basket that spins around when the bunny pedals the bike. Cute, and irresistible to the under-6 set.

Toys and candy: they are both all about pleasure and fun, little frivolities to enjoy. Adult candies always seem more serious, even at Easter time, wrapped up in sober colors and full of luxury and decadence.

So what about Kandyskope? Here was an early candy toy novelty, from 1913, and it wasn’t just for kids. Kandyskope was for “young and old alike.”

And just what was a Kandyskope? Simple. Take a kaleidoscope, replace the little glass chips with hard candy pieces, and TA DA: Kandyscope!  Right on the label, Kandyskope promised “the best show for a dime. Watch the actors, and then eat them!” Pleasing to the eye, pleasing to the palate, and only ten cents.

Children’s penny candies were often shaped like toys: little horses, dogs, guns, flowers, or stars. And children’s candy merchants often gave away little toy prizes with the candy to encourage customer loyalty, cheap little things like pressed tin soldiers or elephants, whistles, puzzles, or marbles. If you had Crackerjacks back in the 1970s or earlier, you remember those little toy prizes. Back in the 1900s, that’s the sort of thing the candy man might have dropped in your sack of penny candy.

Kandyskope aimed much higher. At ten cents, it was an offering for the more lucrative trades. And the whole point of Kandyskope was to be better: “superior in ingenuity, workmanship, and appearance.”

Shortly after its introduction in May 1913, the term “Kandyskope” was trademarked by its manufacturer, Leonhart H. Freund and Company of New York. They thought they were on to something big and wanted to protect their brand. But it wasn’t clear that America was ready for Kandyskope. Within a couple of months, the manufacturer was scolding retailers who couldn’t manage to move the product:

Why does Kandyskope sell well in one store and not the other? The Kandyskope is an intelligent candy toy. It appeals to the intelligent buyer. It has to be demonstrated intelligently to the customer. That is why it is sold by the highest class stores. Do not put it in stock if you cater to cheap trade exclusively.

Alas, it seemed that candy toys requiring demonstration were not destined to become big sellers, at least not when they were surrounded by self-explanatory sorts of candy. Kandyskope disappeared not much later.

But that’s not to say some enterprising candy oculist couldn’t bring it back!

Sources: Kandyskope advertisements in International Confectioner 1913. Kandyskope Trademark Serial Number 70,972 (Oct. 1913). On toy novelties and penny candy, see Wendy Woloson, Refined Tastes: Suger, Confectionery and Consumers in Nineteenth Century America pp. 43-49.

March 22, 2010 at 12:32 pm 4 comments

Candy Feeding Bags

Every once in a while I run into an old candy idea that seems ripe for revival. Who’s going to be the candy entrepreneur who brings back “Candy Feeding Bags,” last seen back in 1911?

This one-cent novelty had a lot going for it: convenience, portability, and flavor. You could choose pineapple, strawberry, peach, raspberry, lemon, chocolate, vanilla, or peppermint. The tube running into the bag is a licorice stick, about 8 inches long and 1/2 inch thick. The idea is that you bite the end off the licorice then suck the flavor powder up through the licorice straw:

The powder mixed with the flavor of the licorice produces a combination hard to beat. When the powder is all gone then you eat the tube. Can you beat it?

Sort of like a Fun Dip or Lik-A-Stick crossed with a Pixie Stick, mixed in with a licorice whip.
Of course, in 1911 most people would associate feeding bags with work horses or mules. There still weren’t many motor cars around, so horses pulling wagons would have been a common sight. And to keep those horses working all day long, they would have a bag of grain tied around their snouts for easy snacking.

So why not a feed bag filled with candy? I love the idea of kids running around with these things tied to their necks. Keeps the kiddies happy with their candy feed all day long. Can you beat it? I don’t think you can!

Candy Feeding Bag ad from International Confectioner, April 1911. Feed bag image from Cowboy Showcase.

March 17, 2010 at 8:26 am 8 comments

Cascarets Candy Cathartic

“Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…”

Mary Poppins had the right idea, of course. Who wouldn’t rather take their medicine candy-style? As it turns out, the relation between candy and medicine has quite a history. Today, I have for you the story of what I believe to be the first medicine in the U.S. to be marketed nationally as a candy: Cascarets Candy Cathartic.

Cascara, the ingredient suggested by “Cascarets,” is derived from the bitter tasting bark of a species of buckthorn tree native to North America. Cascara had been prescribed by druggists and physicians as a remedy for constipation and related ills as early as 1877. But it was not until 1894 that the Sterling Remedy Company came up with a candy version which would turn out to be a huge blockbuster.

Cascarets were made as brown octagonal tablets reputed to have a “pleasant taste–almost as pleasant as chocolate.” They were put up in rectangular tin boxes of six tablets designed to nestle easily in a vest pocket or small handbag. Cascarets quickly captured the nation. Sterling had offices in Chicago, Minneapolis and New York, facilitating a national distribution of their product. They backed their roll-out with a $500,000 advertising push and incentives to retail druggists. By 1899, Cascarets were selling 5,000,000 boxes per year, and were poised to become the top-selling proprietary medicine in the U.S. (source)

Cascara is a powerful drug with unambiguous effects.  As the science staff at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital explain, “Cascarosides increase intestinal motility and lead to propulsive contractions.” But around 1900, Americans didn’t just associate constipation with abdominal discomfort or gas or indigestion. Constipation for our great-grandparents was the root evil of just about every ailment and malaise you could think of. And for whatever was wrong with you, a laxative (or purgative or cathartic–the terms were used pretty interchangeably) would do the trick.

Cascarets Candy Cathartics were sold as the universal remedy:

When you have Heartburn, Colic, Coated Tongue, Suspected Breath, Acid-rising-in-throat, Gas-belching, or an incipient Cold, take a Cascaret. Remember, all these are not merely Discomforts, but indications of a serious Cause. …A coming Headache can be warded off in short order, by a single Cascaret, and the cause removed. Heartburn, Gas-belching, Acid-risings in the throat, and Colicky feeling are sure signs of bowel trouble from food poisons, and should be dealt with promptly. One Cascaret will stop the coming trouble, and move on the Bowel load, if taken at the first signs. ( 1905 ad)

Cascarets ads included every American as a potential customer: men and women, old and young. Even nursing infants would benefit it mama would take a Cascarets. But the real benefit in the new candy cathartic was the banishment of the old remedy:  castor oil.

Doctors and mothers alike were desperate to find some way of avoiding the nightly struggle to force the nasty liquid down Junior’s screaming throat.  Imagine the relief of American children when Cascarets took the place of the daily dose of castor oil.  Here’s an ad for Cascarets from 1918 that pretty much tells the whole story:

We’ll let Jane and Michael Banks have the last word:

Never be cross or cruel, Never give us Castor oil, or gruel.

And with Cascarets, there would be Castor oil no more.

Related Posts:

  • The Inventor of Candy Medicine
  • March 15, 2010 at 8:20 am 7 comments

    Potato Caramels and Parsnip Nougat

    I’m starting to realize that you can make candy out of anything. Rocks, even. Oh, wait, that “rock candy” isn’t really made of rocks… (or is it? see this post for more on the question of rocks in rock candy).

    But anything edible, you can bet somebody somewhere tried to make a candy out of it. In fact, in some countries what I might consider “peculiar” for a candy ingredient is quite ordinary. Take Mexican Dulces de Calabasas, for example. Squash candy. I wouldn’t have come up with that. Or an Asian favorite, Durian taffy. That’s made of the fruit that smells, to the un-initiated nose, like a diaper pail. You see how provincial I am when it comes to candy flavors.

    But luckily, many others have ventured boldly. Our global village is bringing us all sorts of interesting flavors. And a look to the past shows that even here in America, more intrepid candy inventors have imaginations wider than the produce aisle.

    I’m thinking of Mrs. Ellen Gillon, of Honesdale, Pennsylvania. This was a while back, of course, 1911 to be precise. Mrs. Gillon’s husband had died, and she was left to fend for herself. She explained:

    One day, when I was thinking of schemes to make money, the idea of vegetable candy occurred to me. I experimented for several weeks before I hit upon the process, and as far as I know, I am the only one in the world who knows it

    Mrs. Gillon wouldn’t say how she made the candy, only what it was made of: the finest vegetables she could gather from the garden. At Mrs. Gillon’s shop, you could sample potato caramels, parsnip nougat, turnip fudge, beet marshmallows, and bean taffy.

    Mrs. Gillon herself claimed to live “almost entirely on vegetables” and to eat little candy. Once her vegetable confections were perfected, though, she could one supposes, live almost entirely on candy vegetables! Not to mention all the children of the neighborhood, for whom “eat your vegetables” would sound entirely delectable.

    Source: Confectioners Journal June 1911, p. 83, quoting from the Philadelphia North American May 6, 1911.

    Related posts:

  • Some Candies You Won’t Be Making for the Holidays
  • Alayam: Candy from Sweet Potatoes
  • February 15, 2010 at 9:33 am 6 comments

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    Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure

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