Posts filed under ‘WWII to 1960s’

Candy Discovers Television, 1950

In 1950, candy woke up to a whole new realm of candy selling and candy eating possibilities: television.

Watching TV

5 million television sets were in use in 1950, with another million expected to be added by years end. In the days of “family viewing,” that meant 15-20 million Americans gathered around the black and white hearth.

But what really caught the candy industry’s eye was this: families gathered around the television were eating candy. Lots of it.

TV was a perfect candy eating opportunity. TV created “a concentrated attentive audience, in a relaxed pleasure seeking mood. An audience that should be receptive to eating candy.”

Marketing professionals had some advice for exploiting this new opportunity. Henceforth, candy manufacturers would

1. sell the consumer on the idea of eating candy while watching television.

2. create special television candies and packages

3. investigate the potentials of television as an advertising medium for candy.

The observations of a reporter for Candy Industry proved prophetic:

As a new confectionery outlet it is still in infancy, if not the incubating stage. But it has taken root, and if properly developed, it may well have a terrific impact on the candy business in the months and years to come.

Source: “Television Opens New Candy Market.” (p 1, 31) Candy Industry 25 April 1950, 1, 31.

Related Posts:

  • Howdy Doody, brought to you by Candy
  • A Musical TV Tribute to Candy, 1951
  • October 21, 2009 at 5:03 pm 1 comment

    Beer and Candy III

    annheuser-busch 1952

    You don’t think about Budweiser crossing paths with the Lollypop Tree, but once again, it turns out candy and liquor have a tangled past.

    It all goes back to Prohibition, of course.

    Anheuser-Busch started out as the Bavarian Brewery in St. Louis, Missouri in 1852. After a number of changes in owners and names, Anheuser-Busch began producing Budweiser in 1876. Michelob followed in 1896. By 1900, Anheuser-Busch was selling one million barrels of beer a year.

    And then, the catastrophe known in the American brewery and distillery business as “Prohibition.” In 1920, it became illegal to manufacture and sell alcohol. What is a thiving manufacturer to do? In a word, diversify.

    To keep afloat, Anheuser-Busch branched out. They started selling ice cream, barley malt syrup, ginger ale, root beer, chocolate- and grape-flavored beverages, truck and bus bodies, refrigerated cabinets, baker’s yeast and dealcoholized Budweiser.

    And they started selling corn syrup, a key ingredient for the growing candy industry.

    This advertisement is from the June 17, 1952 issue of Candy Industry. The ad shows that in the 1950s, long past the days of Prohibition, Anheuser-Busch was actively seeking customers for their corn products in the candy business. I’d love to be at one of those meetings, imagine the snack table laden with foamy mugs and candy canes…

    An update on Anheuser-Busch: today the company’s principle concerns are beer, packaging, and theme park entertainment. They also have interests in malt production, rice milling, real estate development, turf farming, metalized and paper label printing, bottle production and transportation services. I’ll bet they miss the candy.

    Sources: Candy Industry, June 17, 1952;

    Related Posts:

  • Beer and Candy I
  • Beer and Candy II
  • October 19, 2009 at 6:21 am 6 comments

    Please Don’t Eat the Wrapper

    Partially eaten candy bar

    By the 1940s, advances in the candy industry were closely tied to the work of scientists and engineers working in industrial chemistry labs. Companies like Merck, Pfizer, and Monsanto were frequent advertisers in trade journals.Pfizer emphasized the uniformity and purity of its citric acid, cream of tartar, tartaric acid, and sodium citrate “to give good taste characteristics…to assure the product uniformity and product purity.” Merck placed ads for citric acid to “bring out the goodness of a well-made confection.” Merck also encouraged candy makers, newly interested in fortification, to choose Merck Food-Industry Vitamins with regularity, and also promoted its “pure vitamins for the food industry: Vitamin B1, Riboflavin, Niacin, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C).”

    Monsanto Chemicals and Plastics offered the widest variety of products for the candy manufacturer. For candy flavor, there was Ethavan, a trade formulation of Ethyl Vanillin, (artificial vanilla flavor). Ethavan offered “distinctive flavor, and an aroma that is more pronounced, more intriguing, more pleasing… unusual staying power… more economical.” But Monsanto wasn’t just in the candy. Monsanto Plastics division offered “thermo-plastic coating” to wrap goods, and Vuepak, a “sparkling” material that could be fashioned into plastic boxes perfect for protecting and displaying candy.Vuepak was for products with “taste appeal, eye appeal, interesting design, texture of freshness. If it’s worth looking at…put it in Vuepak.”

    It was inevitable that the folks in the chemistry division should get together with the folks in the packaging department and come up with something entirely novel. In 1949, Monsanto announced “packages with aromas to match their contents” to be provided to manufacturers of candy, cookies and ice cream. Vanillin, ethavan, and coumarin, which had been developed as flavor and aroma enhancers, were incorporated into paper pulp or pressed into finished paper. It was “tasty” packaging, for a reasonable cost.

    Whether this became popular with consumers is not known. It seems risky, especially for candy bars one might eat in a darkened theater. There was, one hopes, some distinction between the taste of the candy and the taste of the cardboard package.

    Source: “Packages with Aromas to Match their Contents” Confectioners Journal Nov 1949 p. 41

    October 15, 2009 at 11:54 am 2 comments

    Candy and the Polio Vaccine

    Vaccine on a sugar cube

    Unless you’re over 50, you probably don’t have much experience with polio. It’s a nasty viral infection, which can in bad cases cause paralysis of legs, arms, and in the worst cases, your whole body. Polio gave us the Iron Lung (for paralyzed victims who otherwise would die of asphyxiation) and the March of Dimes, which started out raising money for polio research.

    A vaccine pretty much eliminated polio from the U.S. and most of the developed world in the 1950s. And candy is part of the story.

    In the late 1950s, polio researcher Albert Sabin developed a live virus vaccine to protect against polio. The vaccine had to be taken by mouth. The problem was that it was bitter tasting. Adults might swallow it anyway, but the primary intended beneficiaries of the vaccination programs were children. The obvious solution: put it in candy.

    As early as 1959, scientists and confectioners in the U.S.S.R. had collaborated to produce a candy that could deliver the live virus. We don’t know what the confection tasted like, but it must have tasted pretty good. Over 1.5 million Russian children were successfully immunized by eating the vaccine candy.

    Here in the U.S., Sabin’s live oral vaccine was approved for general use in 1961. Unfortunately, the Russian candy never made it across the ocean; instead, through the 1960s, the oral vaccine was administered to millions of adults and children as a sugar cube. The vaccine was effective; poliomyelitis is virtually unknown in the U.S. today.

    A 1968 article in the New York Times makes the polio vaccine program sound like a party. “Children Frolic and get ‘Candy’ Polio Vaccine” describes a festive event organized by the NYC Health Department at the George Washington Houses in upper Manhattan. With music, toys, balloons and free orange juice, public health officials hoped to draw in pre-schoolers who had not yet been vaccinated against polio. At the event, each child received sugar cube tinted lilac with two drops of the Sabin live oral polio vaccine. Some kids, loving candy, came back for a second piece.

    Too bad every vaccine can’t be candy!

    More: See my research on the role of candy in the 1916 polio epidemic in Articles: The Candy Prophylactic: Danger, Disease, and Children’s Candy around 1916

    Sources: “Children Frolic and get ‘Candy’ Polio Vaccine” New York Times May 22, 1968; “Polio virus Put in Candy” Science News Letter June 27, 1959: 405; “Polio Vaccine Given in Candy, Soviet Says,” New York Times Nov. 26, 1959.

    October 12, 2009 at 6:20 pm 3 comments

    Alayam: Candy from Sweet Potatoes

    For U.S. manufacturers as well as ordinary citizens, World War II meant shortages and rationing of many staple goods, including sugar. Citizens were encouraged to substitute honey and syrup in their home cooking. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture began to encourage the development of substitutes for sugar that would satisfy the nation’s demand for candy.

    Close-up of a sweet potato

    In Alabama, the Agricultural Research Station at Auburn began experimenting with a local crop, the sweet potato, sometimes also called the yam. After some mixing and melting and molding and such, they came up with something promising. In naming the new candy they melted together the state of its invention and the name of the now exalted tuber. They called it: Alayam.

    Alayam was described as “a cocoanut brittle made with sweet potatoes.” The candy had potential. Some people liked it. In consumer acceptance tests, researchers determined that “40 percent of the nation’s consumers like this new product as well as or better than the candies they are currently buying or eating” and that “more than a third… would buy the product if it were available on the market.” A little luke-warm as endorsements go, but the point is, they didn’t spit it out.

    Of course, neither the Alabama Station nor the U.S.D.A. was equipped to bring such a candy to the consumer market. Sugar rationing having been lifted in 1947, candy manufacturers were not so eager to experiment with marketing strange candy substances. And so Alayam never came to be.

    It was perhaps an idea before its time. In today’s climate of concern about what goes into the food that goes into our bodies, maybe a sweet potato candy is just what we need.

    Source: “Candy from Sweet Potatoes May Become Popular,” Confectioners Journal May 1950, p. 43.

    October 7, 2009 at 7:36 am 5 comments

    Sweetose: Better Candy from the Chemistry Lab

    sweetose corn syrup

    The astro-turf group calling itself The Center for Consumer Freedom has once again taken up the high fructose corn syrup cause. New ads in national papers and TV stations are meant to mock those concerned with possible health effects of this corn syrup derivative, and to reassure the public that HFCS is just another sugar.

    All the corn dust kicking around got me interested in the whole history of HFCS. While I learn about that, allow me to share a little something with you this HFCS precursor: Sweetose.

    Sweetose was a “high-sugar-content” corn syrup manufactured by the A.E. Staley Manufacturing Company, of Decatur IL. In 1938, Staley patented an enzymatic conversion process that would transform regular corn syrup made up of the single sugar glucose into a sweeter syrup with different chemical properties, made up of glucose and maltose. In addition to industrial applications, Staley marketed Sweetose in consumer formulations as a pancake syrup and baking ingredient, similar to Caro syrup.

    The ad above is from 1950, from a candy manufacturer’s trade journal. Sweetose promises to add quality and sales appeal:

    Sample candy with and without Sweetose…discover immediately how this enzyme-converted corn syrup increases tenderness and intensifies flavors. And Sweetose prolongs freshness, too!

    The Staley patent expired in 1955. This opened up the field for others to experiment with enzyme conversion processes, leading to the development of the process that would produce high fructose corn syrup in 1957. But it was not until 1970 that Japanese scientist Dr. Y. Takasaki perfected an industrial process for HFCS production. HFCS was quickly adopted by the food industry, and here we are today.

    Sources: Staley advertisement, Confectioners Journal 1950; High-fructose corn syrup, Wikipedia; A History of Lactic Acid Making: A chapter in the history of biotechnology, By Harm Benninga (1990), p 414, Google Books.

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  • Glue-cose
  • Beer and Candy III
  • October 5, 2009 at 7:49 am 6 comments

    A Complete, Well-Balanced Diet

    Assortment of Vegetables, Spices, Grains, Nuts, Pasta and Fruit

    In 1951, food engineering was in its infancy. Imagination was the only limit to what the chemists might achieve. And what could be better than a candy bar that offered all the nutrition and sustenance of a complete, well-balanced diet?

    Monsanto Chemical Co. thought it was possible. After all, they had already worked on emergency subsistence bars for the Army which were rough derivations from chocolate candy bars. The food scientists were learning the secrets of concentrated proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. A Monsanto representative explained the principle:

    It requires no great stretch of the imagination to foresee that with current knowledge already in hand … a tailor-made bar could be achieved which would sustain life for a long period of time with essential elements. A ’meat bar’ is already under investigation. Peanut bars, contributing a valuable source of protein, have already been in commerce for some time. … If properly qualified scientists, chemists, and food technologists directed their attention toward developing the kind of product necessary for human sustenance, I am quite confident that a tailor-made, approximately balanced candy bar can be achieved.

    It’s probably a good thing that they decided to abandon this line of research. Imagine all those school kids opening their lunch boxes and pulling out “well-balanced candy bars.”

    Wait, I err. In the twenty-first century, we can buy “well-balanced candy bars” at any grocery or drug store. They come in convenient and delicious flavors like chocolate almond and caramel crunch. Look for them under the wholesome sounding name of “meal replacement bar” or “protein bar.”

    I do wonder what happened to the idea of “meat bars,” though.

    Source: “Candy Bar to Equal Well Balanced Diet Seen in Near Future,” Candy Industry, 17 July 1951, p. 3

    September 30, 2009 at 6:55 am 7 comments

    La Cellophane

    dupont cellophane candy ad 1950In a 1925 advertising pamphlet, the newly formed DuPont Cellophane company extolled its new product, “DuPont Cellophane: The New Super Wrap”:

    …as transparent as glass…its smooth surface and lustrous gloss enhance both color and form. … It is germ-proof, odorless and odor-proof, and will preserve freshness and prevent contamination.

    Most importantly, Cellophane promised to improve sales:

    a wrap of Cellophane will permit a clear view of your product so that it can advertise and sell itself at the same time protecting it from handling, dust, germs, bacteria, etc. It is estimated that 90% of all merchandise in the retail store is bought through appeal to the eye. A wrap of Cellophane cannot fail to add materially to the salability of your product through its appearance alone.

    DuPont listed 18 industries and products that were using Cellophane to advantage, including tobacco, meats, drugs, and cosmetics. Number one was candy and confectionery.

    Cellophane was an exciting product in the 1920s. Books and pamphlets were published extolling its uses not only in wrapping and preserving goods, but in crafts as well. The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company commissioned a study investigating the impact of such transparent wrappers on various industries, including the candy industry.

    Whitman, of “Whitman’s Chocolate Sampler Box,” was the first Cellophane customer in America. Transparent wrapping had enormous benefits for candy sales. Customers liked knowing that the candy was protected, and they being able to see what they were getting. One candy retailer reported:

    As an indication of what transparent wrapping will do in increasing and maintaining the sale of the product, last summer we took an item which was slowly but surely losing consumer acceptance, packaged it in a transparent bag, and almost immediately our sales increased.

    DuPont didn’t invent cellophane. A Swiss engineer discovered the material in 1908. As as early as 1914, “La Cellophane” was available to U.S. candy makers, imported from France by Franz Euler and Company and advertised in the major candy trade journals.

    The earliest cellophanes were waterproof, but not impervious to water vapor. This was a problem for candy, but DuPont created a new moisture-proof formulation in 1927, and candy wrapping was never the same. Not every candy seller in the 1920s could see that candy was on the brink of a revolution. When asked about what impact cellophane was likely to have on the candy business, one manufacturer opined:

    I believe that transparent packaging will continue to grow in favor. HoweverI do not believe that they will ever entirely take the place of candies packed in bulk.

    But by the 1950s, cellophane was everywhere. DuPont had expanded its own production, and others had started manufacturing the material. DuPont was the major player, though. The Justice Department went so far as to bring a lawsuit against DuPont in 1947 charging a monopoly on wrapping materials, the famous cellophane anti-trust case. While DuPont’s plans for expansion were held up by the litigation, the company took the extraordinary step of encouraging their competitors to meet the cellophane demand.

    It is true that in a few “nostalgia” shops, candy can still be bought in bulk. But clear plastic wrappers are so common today, we don’t even notice them. Many new strong, transparent and flexible materials have become available for candy packaging. DuPont stopped making cellophane in 1986. But it was cellophane that started the revolution.


    Du Pont Cellophane: The New Super Wrap. (New York: DuPont Cellophane Co., 1925);Transparent wrappings as a sales aid for food products; a report on the experiences of 29 companies. (New York: Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Policyholders Service Bureau, 1932);Craft with “Cellophane” cellulose film.(New York : Du Pont Cellophane Co., 1935); The History of Cellophane, by Mary Bellis at

    More: For an extended discussion of the rapid rise of wrappers in candy manufacture between 1914 and 1917, see my article The Candy  Prophylactic: Danger, Disease, and Children’s Candy around 1916, in particular the section titled “Covers and Wrappings: the Rise of Hygenic Candy”

    The New York Times obituary of Karl Prindle, who invented the waterproofing formula for Du Pont, tells another part of the cellophane story.

    September 23, 2009 at 2:54 pm 5 comments

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    Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure

    Welcome to Candy Professor

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