Posts filed under ‘WWII to 1960s’

Fresher in Cellophane

Oooh...that candy looks good!

This 1958 Du Pont ad declares: “Candy’s at its best in Cellophane!”

And it was no exaggeration. From the 1930s through the 1960s, Cellophane was the very best wrapping material for candy. Cellophane was transparent and impermeable. This made it the ideal wrapping material for Americans who were worried about germs but who were also very picky shoppers. Cellophane meant they could see what they were getting, but still be confident that “germs” were kept out.

From the very beginning, candy makers loved cellophane. Some industry observers dated the birth of the modern candy trade to 1923, the year Du Pont began manufacturing Cellophane in the U.S. Cellophane revolutionized the packaging of candies. Individually wrapped candies sparkled, like glowing gems, a huge leap from the old dull waxed papers. Cellophane could be make into transparent bags for bulk candies, the whole package a tantalizing window on the candy inside. For the high-end market, cellophane covered and sealed fancy boxed candies, guaranteeing hygienic freshness. The candy buying consumers certainly found these qualities appealing. But Cellophane also helped the candy seller. Candy wrapped in Cellophane would maintain its freshness and visual appeal for longer periods, so merchants worried less about old goods. And wrapped candies could be sold as a “self-service” item to be stocked on modern grocery store shelves, which would mean fewer expensive clerks to serve the customers.

1936: “Delicious hard candy, Can NOW be kept handy!”

“New, clean wrap is a sweet idea!”

Ads from the 1930s emphasized cleanliness and convenience. The individually wrapped candies in these ads will be happy in a pocket or handbag, with no worry for sticky messes. The girl peering over the candy bin seems ready to reach in for a handfull. There is no clerk standing over her waiting for her order. She can just help herself! Compare this image of the open candy bins to the image of a 1900s candy store in Ye Olde Candy Shoppe.

1937: “Each piece always clean, never sticky, easy to carry!”

Many of these ads feature sweet little girls. But of course: little girls are made of “sugar and spice and everything nice,” and what is nicer or sweeter than fresh candy!

Here’s adorable Shirley Temple pouring out a candy dish in a 1954 ad.

In the 1950s ads, Du Pont emphasized the official line of the NCA, “Candy is Delicious Quick-Energy Food.” The advantage of Cellophane is to keep the candy fresh. In this and the ad at the top of the page, the candy is wrapped in Cellophane bag. Compare this to the 1930s ads, which suggest the little girls might be choosing individual pieces of candy. By the 1950s, the children’s candy market had moved away from little penny candies (see Langston Hughes Sings the Blues for Penny Candy).

1955: “You can be sure candy is fresh and clean–and you can see to choose the kind you like best–when you buy CANDY IN CELLOPHANE.”

Is the “you” who buys the candy the mother? She’s probably the one who cares that the candy is fresh and clean. Or is it the kids? They can choose the kind they like best. The jelly beans they are holding are pre-packaged in the Cellophane bag. It’s a pretty big sack, not likely to be purchased by a child alone. Candy here is something mother buys for her children, not something they go out to buy for themselves.

Related Posts:

  • La Cellophane
  • Langston Hughes Sings the Blues for Penny Candy
  • Ye Olde Candy Shoppe
  • January 22, 2010 at 11:41 am 2 comments

    Pez and the 1950s Children’s Candy Market

    Candy Land observed a moment of silence on December 15, 2009, to mark the passing of Curtis Allina, presumed inventor of the Pez character dispenser. The first Pez marketed for children were full-bodied likenesses of Santa and a robot, in 1955. Pez dispensers were not the first or the only candy toy novelty. But no other candy toy has approached the brilliance of the Pez Head, in its simple appeal and infinite variety.

    When Pez came to the U.S. from Austria in the early 1950s, it was as an adult peppermint sold in a suave dispenser that resembled James Bond’s gold cigarette lighter, and shared its sleek cosmopolitan gleam. Such trifles were more successful in Vienna than in Vermont, though, and Pez stumbled in the U.S. market. Then Allina, or someone working for him, had the idea to re-package the mints as fruit-flavored children’s candies. But why did they imagine that marketing candy to children might be a winning bet?

    The fact was, no one much noticed those little candy munching kiddies before the 1950s.

    Oh, the kids bought candy, to be sure. One or two pennies at a time, hoarded and carefully extracted from a sticky pocket after spending an hour loitering in front of the candy displays. Hardly the most promising customer base. The penny candy trade was always at the edges of the candy business. No respectable adult with more than five or ten cents to rub together would bother with the little shops where kids hung out and clerks spent the day swatting away grubby hands and dripping noses. In articles on cost accounting and business-building published in the candy journals, bean-counters encouraged candy makers and candy sellers to give up the penny trade: it just didn’t pay.

    World War II pretty much killed off penny candy. There was sugar rationing, and much candy production was diverted to supply the troops with their requisite sweets. Candy ads from the period encourage Americans to be patient if they can’t find their favorite candies in stock, shorages were just a part of the war effort. Whatever by way of sugar, chocolate and the like that was left for the domestic market went to the manufacture of higher priced, more profitable goods. But of course, there were still children, and they still were going to be eating candy.

    Around 1947, as the war wound down and things started getting back to normal, candy makers began looking around and noticing all those candy-hungry kids. Things were different, now, to be sure. Kids weren’t getting pennies the way they used to. The unwrapped penny goods were, in any case, gone. And mothers were more concerned both with regulating the money their kids had to spend, and with exercising more control over their children’s candy habits. At the same time, modern ideas about advertising, marketing, and packaging encouraged candy makers and sellers to start thinking more creatively about their customers and how to build their business.

    At first, the idea was just to draw the attention of children: what price? what sort of wrapper? what sort of display? And to soothe the mothers: this candy is wholesome! this candy is clean!

    But by 1952, the idea of a distinct children’s market had begun to inspire amazing innovations in promotion and sales which far surpassed tentative explorations of the late 1940s. A trade article on “Candy Packaging for the Small Fry” suggests the imaginative range of possibilities for packaging: There were “Play Money Pops” with cardboard coins; “Wild West Pops” with small Western toys; “Tasty Pops” which promised an educational candy experience with their new “Wheel-a-Word combination spelling game and bank that teaches children how to spell, and can be used for hoarding pennies as well.” And then there were the packages themselves: fancy boxes that would serve for jewelry or a picture frame when the candy was done; musical drums for pounding or, for the young ladies, drum-shaped pocketbooks filled with candy; and decorated glass tumblers featuring bunnies and sports themes. A precursor to Pez might be the “Clicker Bird”: a metal bird with a long neck and moveable head filled with candy. An extra notable feature was the built-in clicker: “Children love them, and the clickers are guaranteed to drive mothers to distraction.”

    Candy filled toys were common and popular in the mid 1950s; if you wanted to sell in the children’s market, you needed a novelty, an extra, something to stand out and add to the candy itself. The Pez dispensers were part of a wave of innovation in children’s candy packaging. You’ll still find many novelty toy packages in the children’s candy rack at the drug store today. But Pez does stand out, as an idea that allowed for infinite variation in the same familiar package, appealing to new generations of children while gripping the adult imagination as well.

    Sources: Margalit Fox, “Curtis Allina Dies at 87; He Put the Heads on Pez”, New York Times 5 January 2010; B.G. Collins, “Let’s Sell Candy to the Children,” Confectioners Journal June 1947, p. 35-36; Ann Marie Lawler, “Candy Packaging for the Small Fry,” Confectioners Journal May 1952, p. 25-26.

    Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ionan/ / CC BY-NC 2.0

    January 8, 2010 at 7:21 am Leave a comment

    Candy Fortification: Synthetic Vitamin A

    Spoonful of dietary supplements

    In the 1950s, vitamins were all the rage. Prior to the work of the chemists, the usual way Americans took their vitamin A was in cod liver oil. But what if instead, people could get their vitamin A from something yummy, say, candy?

    Everybody needs vitamin A. So it was a potentially lucrative project for the chemical industry to develop a synthetic, stable form of Vitamin A. The prize was enormous: the military and the government were very interested in increasing the nutritive value of foods that could be stored and transported easily. In particular, the U.S. Army was interested in fortifying Army rations including candy, peanut butter, milk powder, and crackers with a palatable, stable form of vitamin A.

    In 1952, Pfizer developed a technique of gelatin stabilization that minimized the deterioration of the vitamin, and contributed no objectionable taste or odor. They tested chocolate bars fortified with the gelatinized vitamin A and found 92 percent retention after four weeks storage at 45 C (they don’t specify, but these must have been the modified military chocolate, as ordinary chocolate would have gotten pretty melty at this temperature, equivalent to 113 F).

    How much chocolate was consumed with vitamin A supplementation we don’t know. But we do know that synthetic vitamin A in amounts in excess of the RDA is pretty toxic. It’s usually called “retinol,” and today it is more familiar as a skin treatment than as a food additive. On the other hand, a candy bar that could prevent vitamin A deficiency and treat your acne flare ups might be pretty useful.

    Source: “Vitamin A Fortification Research,” Candy Industry 12 February 1952.

    Related post:

  • A Complete, Well-Balanced Diet
  • December 7, 2009 at 7:54 am 1 comment

    Howdy Doody, brought to you by Candy

    “The auto took American families out of their homes…Television put them back on the sofa!”

    In 1950, it was all about television. Anyone who wanted to sell anything to anybody could see that from here on out, TV was it.

    Candy wanted in. In 1948, the candy manufacturer Mason, Au and Magenheimer experimented with sponsorship of a little program called “The Howdy Doody Show.” Within six weeks, its brand new “Mason Bar” was being promoted by 90 percent of the distributors in the market. Others quickly followed suit. By 1950, the “Candy and Soft Drink” category was second only to “Food and Food Products” in total network advertisements.

    Candy companies sponsored many of America’s favorite early TV shows:

    Peter, Paul Inc. sponsored Buck Rogers

    Mars, Inc. sponsored Howdy Doody

    Bunte Bros. sponsored Cactus Jim

    M&M Ltd. sponsored  Super Circus

    S.F. Whitman & Sons sponsored Show of Shows

    Philadelphia Chewing Gum Corp. sponsored Mr. Magic

    Doran Confectionery Co. sponsored Unk’n Andy

    Gold Medal Candy Corp. sponsored Magic Clown

    Walter Johnson Candy Co. sponsored Captain Video

    Quaker City Chocolate & Confectionery Co. sponsored Lucky Pup

    One advertising executive offered a note of caution to the sudden enthusiasm of the candy trade:

    The candy business, never before particularly noted for a desire to spend more than a bare buck or two in advertising, has suddenly begun behaving like Diamond Jim Brady having a big evening at Rectors! But take it easy, gentlemen, even Diamond Jim must have occasionally felt a little dull the morning after. Not that TV isn’t all we say it is, –because it is and then some. It’s just that if you don’t know what you’re getting into, or you don’t hire someone who does,– then look out you don’t get your fingers all jammed up in this nice new toy.

    Source: Franklyn W. Dyson, “Television and Candy—An Expert Tells Who, What, When, of Programming” Candy Industry 29 Aug. 1950

    Related Posts:

  • Candy Discovers Television, 1950
  • A Musical TV Tribute to Candy, 1951
  • December 4, 2009 at 6:02 pm 2 comments

    Candy is Life: Korea, 1952

    In the 1950s, Edward R. Murrow was the nation’s pre-eminent television journalist. His CBS program See it Now pioneered the TV newsmagazine format that spawned familiar programs like “60 Minutes” and “20/20.”

    Detail of a Map of Korea

    Murrow was suspicious of the new medium of television, and insisted his program actively involve itself in the issues of the day. To insure the most engaged and accurate reporting See It Now maintained its own camera crews to coordinate filming on location and used 35mm- cameras to record the most striking images.

    In a March 1952 report from Korea, “See it Now” reporter George Herman focused on the effects on the civilian population of the Korean War, which was entering its third year. Candy was part of the story.

    Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the candy industry and candy enthusiasts had promoted candy as “good food” and a good source of energy. In times of plenty, candy was consumed along side all sorts of other foods, and the emphasis was on enjoyment and pleasure. The positive message about candy was something like: Candy is good energy food, so why not enjoy it?

    But when the economy was down, candy for many was more than just pleasure and fun. Candy was also, calorie for calorie, incredibly cheap. During the years of the depression, candy bars with food names like Lunch Bar and Chicken Dinner suggested that for many, a candy bar was a way to sate hunger in the place of a proper mean. By the 1940s, candy bars were being fortified with vitamins and sold as “packed with nutrition.”

    Even in America’s darkest hours, candy always promoted a positive, fun image of enjoyment and pleasure. “See it Now” put candy eating in a different light.

    Herman explained,

    Candy is no joke in Korea. In a country where people just barely survive the winter every year, where sugar is scarce and calories are counted in tens rather than in hundreds, candy can mean the difference between surviving and succumbing to tuberculosis or pneumonia or some of the other deaths that cold and poverty reap per year.

    As Herman described the suffering of Korea’s population and their economic hardship, the camera showed images of Korean children, scrambling for candy.

    In the first and second World Wars, American soldiers would often carry candy to give out to civilians as a gesture of friendship and good will. The reporting from Korea suggested a more disturbing and desperate story. For those Koreans who were lucky enough to grab something in the candy scramble, candy wasn’t just a treat. Candy was, in wartime, life itself.

    Source: Candy Industry April 1952, p. 1

    December 2, 2009 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

    Movie Candy

    candy and the movies

    1951 Movie Concession Sales

    If you’ve been to a movie theater lately, you’ve probably noticed the candy counter at the concession stand. At my local cine-plex, big boxes of gummi bears and Junior Mints can be had at $3.00 a pop. It’s a lot more than what the drug store down the street is charging, but I’m a captive audience. Besides, what’s a movie without a huge candy overdose? Pricey, absolutely. Concession sales today account for over 40 percent of movie theaters’ net revenue.

    The first movie theaters were the nickelodeons of the 1900s and teens, simple affairs where 5 cents could by any news boy or seamstress a few moments of magical escape. It was a popular entertainment: by 1914, 27 percent of Americans were regularly attending the moving picture shows.

    Early theaters did not sell refreshments. As nickelodeons gave way to more opulent movie palaces in the 1920s, operators wanted to keep the atmosphere “classy,” and lip smacking and litter didn’t fit. But by the 1930s, the economic squeeze of the Depression was affecting revenues. New theaters were smaller and less luxurious. Selling candy, popcorn, and sodas was a way to bring more money into the theaters. By the 1940s, concession stands were in every theater, and sales of food and drink were a big money-maker.

    Conecession sales took off fast. In 1951, concession sales were accounting for 22 percent of the gross revenues at the nations 19,500 indoor theaters. 3 out of five theater patrons were buying refreshments before or during the show. At the 2,500 drive ins around the country, the numbers were even higher, with concessions bringing in 45 cents for every ticket dollar.

    Popcorn was the biggest seller, bringing $193 million to theater coffers that year. Candy followed a close second, at $135 million. That amounted to $2.5 million each week spent on candy at the nation’s movie theaters.

    In many of the theaters, kids were the biggest buyers of candy. The most popular items were the “nickel bars” and other five-cent items including chewing gum. As many in the candy trade agitated to move to a more lucrative ten-cent candy bar, the theaters were against it, even if it meant making the nickel bars smaller. Movie theaters prized the ‘kids trade,’ and feared that “a boost in price to a dime would drastically reduce sales to children.”

    The big competitor for the movie-goers dime was popcorn. Sugar had been rationed during the second world war, and popcorn had become more common and more popular as a result. One candy industry booster thought popcorn should go:

    I venture the opinion that one of the reasons for the ’death’ of movie houses is because of the odor and noise from popcorn. As to the quality of motion pictures presented, that is a question open to debate but smell is smell, and noise is a noise, and my guess is that some of those who may be reading this editorial have been annoyed just as much as I have through smelly and noisy popcorn and stay away from movies.

    Smelly, noisy popcorn vs. fragrant, soft candy… no contest!

    Source: “Theatre Field Prefers Five-Cent Candy Bars” Confectioners Journal July 1951 p 30; “Movies and Candy and Popcorn,” Confectioners Journal Aug. 1953 p. 63; Jill Pellittieri, Make it a Large for a Quarter More? A short history of concession stands. Slate, June 26, 2007

    November 30, 2009 at 7:46 am 1 comment

    Candy Lunch Bars

    If you’re getting hungry for some lunch soon, I thought you might enjoy these. Don’t worry if you’re a little short this month, three cents is all you need to enjoy a delicious Lunch Bar (1949). And if you have a nickel, perhaps you’d prefer the Chicken Dinner (1947) or the Denver Sandwich (1947). Bon Appetit!

    klein lunch bar 1949sperry denver sandwich 1947

    November 9, 2009 at 11:11 am 25 comments

    Laxatives and the end of Trick or Treating

    Halloween is here, and once again we mourn the death of Trick or Treating. It happened exactly fifty years ago, today.

    Thinkstock Single Image Set

    Halloween 1959. Dr. William V. Shyne, a dentist in Fremont, California, was having an off day. Maybe his wife just left him, maybe his pants were too tight, maybe he just didn’t like people. Or rather, maybe he just didn’t like kids.

    Kids came around to his house that night, ringing the bell and calling Trick or Treat! Lots, maybe a couple hundred. In 1959, every kid in America under the age of 10 or so was out on Halloween night, making the rounds. They would go in gangs and groups, the older ones on their own, the littlest ones with older kids or their parents, ringing bells and gathering candy loot and howling and hooting.

    Dr. Shyne answered the door. And he gave out treats, all right. But his treats turned out to be a mean and nasty trick. Police investigators discovered he had “dispensed” 450 candy-coated laxative pills into kids’ outstretched bags. Thirty of those kids became very, very sick.

    Dr. Shyne was charged with “outrage of public decency” and “unlawful dispensing of drugs.” They should have charged him with murder. Because after that, Halloween was never the same.

    Halloween 1960 began the era of “Halloween sadism.” Was it safe to Trick or Treat? What maniac might put a LSD tab, or a poisoned Tootsie Roll, or a razor-spiked apple, in little Suzy’s bag? Stories surfaced of pins, needles, razor blades, but they would fade away under closer examination. Nevertheless, Americans came to believe that kids weren’t safe at Halloween. Parents scrutinized their kiddies’ loot and confiscated anything “wierd.” No cookies, no apples, no unwrapped candies, that was obvious. Some towns set up X-ray stations at hospitals to “check the candy.” The festive and free romping of the streets for Trick or Treat faded into a circuit at the mall, a party at church, a supervised promenade to select neighbors homes.

    But through all of that, even up to today, there has never been a single substantiated instance of an anonymous sadist causing death or life-threatening injury. Not one.

    Dr. Shyne was the first, and only, of his kind.

    RIP.

    PS. I hear, contrary to the boo-hoo-ers, that in fact in many neighborhoods trick or treat is alive and well, with the proper supervision and safeguards. Like the vampires and zombies of Halloween, Trick or Treat rises from the grave!

    October 30, 2009 at 7:09 am 13 comments

    Candies For Trick or Treat in the 1950s

    Close up view of a Halloween bag storing candy sweets

    Halloween is coming. Trick-or-Treat and … CANDY!

    It’s hard to believe, but back in the 1950s, Halloween wasn’t really a candy holiday.

    Before the 1940s, most Americans had never heard of trick-or-treat. And as trick-or-treat caught on after World War II, treats were various and mostly not candy. Typical treats included cookies, popcorn balls, nuts, coins, and also jelly beans and candy corn, loose and unwrapped. And of course the occasional rock.

    Life Magazine doesn’t have any ads for candy that mention trick-or-treat before 1953. In the October 26, 1953 issue, Fleer Dubble Bubble ran an ad that said “Treat the Kids this Halloween with Dubble Bubble.” The accompanying drawing features a woman handing gum to a pack of costumed kids. There’s a little black cat sitting at her feet. Think “Bewitched” but brunette.

    Mars, Inc. was another of the very early manufacturers promoting candy for trick-or-treat. The October 25, 1954 issue of Life features an ad for Milky Way bars promoting the “Haunting Flavor” of its “three layer treat.” The image shows a ghost eating a Milky Way. Fleer Dubble Bubble also ran an ad in the same issue with a masked trick or treater ringing a doorbell, a clever visual reference to the early “gangster” origins of trick-or-treat.

    The association of candy with Halloween was not obvious to everyone, though. Other products pitched trick-or-treat  as an occasion to spread their own kind of goodness. The October 25, 1954 issue of Life included a Kellogg’s ad for cereal Snack-Paks that reads “Sweet treats for little kids!” and shows a woman handing a box of Frosted Flakes to the Trick or Treaters. In 1959, the October 26 issue featured trick-or-treat theme ads for Hawaiian Punch (“treats for thirsty tricksters”), Kool Aid (“loot for the trick or treaters”), and my own personal favorite for weird Halloween tie-in, Dutch Masters Cigars (costumed kids hold a cigar box out to dad: “No trick…all treat”).

    Anything could be a Halloween treat. And candy advertised around Halloween might not even make a Halloween reference. In 1954 and later years, Brach’s ran an ad for chocolate peanuts which made no mention of the season or the holiday. Mars ran an ad for the Mars bar in the October 29,1956 issue, but it is a general ad that makes no reference to Halloween.

    Most candy in the 1950s, even if it was advertised for Halloween, didn’t have any special  packaging or wrapping. The first ad I’ve found for specially packaged trick-or-treat candy bar miniatures is from Curtiss, in 1960: “the goblins ‘ll get you if you don’t treat ’em right!” Mom is holding a bowl with assorted Baby Ruth and Butterfinger bars. They are “miniature” compared to regular, sure, but kids in those days were getting a “mini” about three times the size of today’s Halloween treat size!

    (CORRECTION Oct 15, 2010: I have since found ads much earlier mini-bars advertised for Halloween, as this from 1951 (Hershey’s “mini,” “small size” Baby Ruth and Butterfinger [Curtiss]. Were there others in the 1950s? When did the mini size become wide spread?).

    I found these pictures of some of the earliest candy packages that refer explicitly to trick-or-treat, both from the mid 1950s:

    Heath halloween package 1955

    This Heath package is from 1955. It is a regular 24 box of Heath bars, with a special sleeve that could be removed if the merchandise stayed on the shelf after the holiday. This kind of multi-purpose package suggests that Halloween wasn’t sending candy flying off the shelf.

    halloween package 1956

    This hexagonal carton is an award winning package distributed by the Sierra Candy Company in 1956. Its terribly clever: ears sick out the sides for a comic effect, while a menacing toothsome grin and googly eyes offer a peek a the candy inside.

    Sources: Life Magazine courtesy of Google Books (tip: to see a larger image of the ad, click on the single page view in the Google viewer after clicking my link); Confectioners Journal Sept. 1955 p. 24, April 1956 p. 36.

    October 26, 2009 at 6:50 am 9 comments

    A Musical TV Tribute to Candy, 1951

    By 1951, candy was fully committed to a television future. TV viewers on the night of December 1, 1951, enjoyed a full-length musical tribute to candy, as featured on the popular Ken Murray Television Show. There were specially written songs, special costumes and scenery, and a unique candy dance extravaganza.

    Family watching TV

    Viewers would be entertained, to be sure. But they would also be educated. The Candy Show was a promotion for candy, after all. The 14 million viewers learned about the important part candy plays in food and nutrition, the tireless efforts of candy manufacturers to improve their products, and the “constant efforts being put forth to provide the buying public with delicious and wholesome candy.”

    The Ken Murray Show’s sponsor probably had something to do with the plans for “one of the greatest good-will promotions in the entire history of the candy industry.” The sponsor was Anheuser-Busch. The Anheuser-Busch Corn Products Division was a major supplier of corn syrup to the candy industry (see CandyProfessor:  “Beer and Candy III”). So what was good for candy was good for corn products, and what was good for corn products was good for Anheuser-Busch.

    Source: “TV Show to Promote Candy as Food,” Confectioners Journal Dec. 1951, p. 27

    October 23, 2009 at 6:55 am 2 comments

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    Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure

    Welcome to Candy Professor

    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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