Posts filed under ‘Marketing’

Tootsie Roll: Penny Candy That’s Not

Here’s an ad for Tootsie Rolls that ran in February and March 1910:

Chocolate Tootsie Rolls are “a hit with all.” And just whom do we mean by “all”? Let’s see. We have the lady at leisure with a book in one hand and a Tootsie in the other. Or for the working woman, a Tootsie chew at the typewriter. Tootsie is for the sporting types as well, as we see Lady offering a morsel to a burly line backer. At home, Mama might offer a bite to her sweet one. Look, there’s Junior, snacking on a Tootsie on his way home from school. And even Officer Nightstick enjoys his Tootsie. Men and women, young and old, leisured and working, at play, school, home or office: everybody eats Tootsie Rolls.

Tootsie Rolls is up to something interesting in this ad. They are selling a piece of candy at the price of one cent: penny candy. But “penny candy” is cheap, in price and quality, and considered suitable only for children. And the penny candy market is the very bottom. If you want a big piece of the candy pie, you need to sell up.

Stern & Saalberg, the makers of the Chocolate Tootsie Roll, had a couple of ideas. First was the packaging. Whether Tootsie Rolls were the first penny candy to be wrapped in paper is impossible to say. Paper wrapping machines were common by 1908, the year Tootsie Rolls were first marketed, and other candies large and small were sold wrapped. But the wrapper on the Tootsie Roll is distinctive, the shape is distinctive, and the display of all those Rolls lined up in their case is quite eye catching. And while “penny candy” was usually brightly colored to catch the child’s eye, Tootsie Roll was wrapped in more “sophisticated” tones of gold and chocolate brown.

The power of syllogism also came in hand for making the Tootsie Roll stand out in the penny field. The copy on this ad reads: “Retailed at one cent each but no more to be classed with the ordinary run of Penny Goods than a Plate of Ice Cream with a Snowball.” Put on your SAT hats: Snowball is to Ice Cream as Penny Good is to Tootsie Roll. Tootsie Roll comes out way ahead in this game of logic.

It wasn’t long, though, before the obvious solution presented itself. In April 1910, a new ad appeared proclaiming “We HAD to pack them in 5 and 10c. packages–everybody asked us to–so here they are, the neatest style and biggest value ever put into a 5 or 10c package.” :

Of course, that didn’t mean that you were getting a special deal. As you can see in this re-design of the package in 1913, a 5 cent box gives you 5 one cent candies, and likewise for 10 cents. But you do get a nice box to go with it.

Sources: Stern & Saalberg ads for Tootsie Rolls from Confectioners Journal (1910); 1913 packaging illustrated in International Confectioner (1913)

February 19, 2010 at 8:24 am 3 comments

Hershey’s Pieces, Brought To You By B-School

An article in the Feb 17, 2010 New York Times Business section included this quote: “I think you’re going to move into more usage occasions with this delivery method.” Jody Cook was describing:

a. Staples new Direct-to-Desk service which will restock disappearing pens on demand. The Deluxe package will also restore missing tape dispensers and staplers on a quarterly basis.

b. Dominos Pizza’s announcement that it will incorporate skateboarders and rock-climbers into its delivery fleet to expand the reach of pizza from the deepest pit to the highest wall.

c. Hershey’s new line of Pieces in Almond Joy and York Peppermint flavors, those little button siblings of Reese’s Pieces that promise endless opportunities for grabbing and going (or just sitting).

OK, that was an easy one. This is the Candy Professor, after all. But really: “usage occasions”? “Delivery method”? It makes candy eating sound like something they invented over in the business school.

So when you’re sitting with a big bag of Almond Joy Pieces in your lap, flipping the channel between Soap Net and Ice Hockey, that would be a usage occasion. And when you’re driving down the highway, looking for adventure, that would be a usage occasion. And when you’re standing in line at the bank desperately hoping that the negative sign on you statement is a clerical error, that would be a usage occasion. And wherever you are, popping those Pieces in your mouth, over and over and over, that would be a delivery method. What Ms. Cook is trying to say is “selling candy in little pieces in big bags is going to make it easier for more people to eat more candy at more times and in more places.” And that is something they came up with over in the business school.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against little candy bites, or candy-coated chocolate pieces, or any sort of candy for that matter. But I do feel insulted by marketers who say with a straight face, “The point [of the Pieces] is that it gives people the option to eat less and more sensibly.”

Folks, this is crazy talk. When you buy the little 80 cent bag of M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces, you eat the whole bag, right? So what happens when you put 10 oz. of candy in the bag? You’ve seen the research on potato chips: when you hand someone a bag of chips, they eat it. Big bag, small bag, doesn’t matter. Do we really think that America, having filled its collective cup holders with no-mess, no-fuss candy bits, is prepared to stop munching before all the candy is gone?

The ad campaign from Hershey’s will promote the idea that little pieces of candy have fewer calories than big pieces of candy. This as an empirical fact, but entirely irrelevant. What matters is that lots of pieces of little candy can have way more calories that one big piece of candy, and Hershey’s Pieces make it easier to forget what you’re eating. So you eat more. The marketers know this too. It’s no secret. Here’s market research analyst Marcia Mogelonsky: “Sure, half of us are going to pour the whole bag into our mouths.” Yikes.

Eat candy, but eat it with your eyes open! I’m thinking of adding a new topic to the Candy Professor course syllabus: “Mindful Candy Eating: The Buddhist Path to Sweet Enlightenment.”

Andrew Adam Newman, “Candy Makers Cut the Calories, by Cutting the Size” , New York Times Business Section, 17 Feb 2010

February 17, 2010 at 9:48 am 2 comments

Taking Candy from a Soldier

U.S. soldiers in the nineteen-teens were distinguished by many virtues: their bravery, their manliness, and above all, for their craving for sweets.

Rations in the Army around 1916 included bread, potatoes, bacon and beans or fresh meat, cheese, coffee, tea, butter, milk, sugar, an orange or an apple, pepper, salt, and 1/4 pound sugar per day. Given such blandly nutritious fare, it wasn’t a surprise that the boys serving in the military would be glad of some candy.

In a report on military morale in 1917, Dr. Naismith, a profesor of physical education at University of Kansas, encouraged gifts of candy to accompany letters from home, in preference of “sob letters and night gowns,” typical items that Naismith called “the most worrying and useless things the boys on the border last summer received from home.” As Dr. Naismith noted, “his appetite for sweets, too, is very keen. The army ration, wholesome and nourishing, hasn’t many trimmings, so candy always is warmly welcomed by the boys.” .

The call for candy did not go unanswered. In August 1917, Wallace and Co. of Brooklyn began advertising the “Service Package” to retail dealers. This box of confection was “designed and packed for the boys” and meant to be purchased on subscription: the customer would pay, and the retailer would send out the package on a regular basis. This would be an easy sale: “We know there is nothing a soldier or sailor on active duty appreciates more than candy. His chances of buying candy for himself are very small, therefore such a gift, delivered by Uncle Sam’s Postal Department, is a most welcome addition to the service rations and a cheerful remembrance from home.” And what would the happy soldier receive in his Service Package? One package each of lemon drops, wild cherry drops, and broken candy, two rations of eating chocolate, and two packages of chewing gum, all wrapped in a box covered with inspirational images of soldiers at salute, cannons, explosions, and the American eagle.

Even before the U.S. joined the European war, the soldiers’ love of candy was a common theme. By 1915 there were reports that “one of the finest old American slang terms is about to succumb to the stern demands of war.” Where Americans used to say “taking candy from a baby,” now it would be more accurate to describe that tearful tug of war as “taking candy from a soldier.” One pundit went so far as to suggest a novel military strategy based on candy: “Put a chocolate statue of the Kaiser in the square at Berlin and our men will take it in a week” (attributed to Sir John French, British Army Inspector-General).

By 1916, confectioners were viewing the impending war with a certain optimism, as a huge marketing opportunity:

We know that a country at war does not lose its desire for confectionery. The European war has taught us however that huge standing armies consume huge quantities of candy, and it is a fact that thousands upon thousands of men who seldom if ever eat candy before, begin to crave for sweetmeats after they feel the rigors of active army life.

Before World War I, candy had been seen primarily as the province of lovers and children. No longer: the experience of war would make candy a man’s game. The market for candy created by the war was the theme of the 1916 address by R. F. Mackenzie, president of the National Confectioners Association (NCA), at the annual convention:

The world must have its sweets. As the wise man has said, ’Candy’s fair in love and war.’ The lover demands his package of bon-bons with which to propitiate his sweetheart; and the veteran of the tranches requests his strength-renewing tablet of chocolate.

As U.S. soldiers returned to civilian life in the roaring 1920s, their candy appetite propelled an enormous boom in candy invention, production, and sales. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the American candy business of today–and especially the primacy of the candy bar–is the legacy of the dough-boys ’appetite for sweets.’

Sources: “The Chocolate Soldier,” International Confectioner October 1915, p. 36; “Preparedness,” International Confectioner June 1916, p. 39; R.F. Mackenzie speech to NCA, 10 May 1916, International Confectioner May 1916, p. 41-42. Wallace and Company “Service Package” ad, International Confectioner August 1917, p. 14-15. Dr. Naismith quotation, International Confectioner June 1917, 61.

January 18, 2010 at 7:34 am 2 comments

Chocolate War Rations, Round One

Ship cannon on gun

In my previous post, I shared some war-themed ads for children’s candy from the WWI era. It’s not surprising that candy makers would jump on the war bandwagon by using war imagery and themes to attract attention. But at the same time, the candy trade was also working very hard to position its product as an essential support for the war effort.

Everyone expected that war would bring rationing and scarcity. The economic viability of the candy business depended on defining candy as food, as a necessity for every day life. Candy makers used every means they could to bring this message to their customers. Here’s the copy from another ad for Zatek Eatmors, this one from 1917:

Show the children how to make an Eatmor Cannon. Zatek Milk Chocolate Eatmors will feed a whole army of hungry soldiers. Appoint one child “Quartermaster” and let him issue the “rations.” [image of chocolate stars flying out of tube/cannon, children playing with cannon and soldiers on the floor indoors, girl and boy]. The sealed Eatmor tube makes sure that each soldier receives his portion clean and fresh. The 28 or more sweet-milk-chocolate-stars are ample to go around. Their wholesome nourishment provides the necessary ’pep’ for long marches and trench warfare.

The message is cleverly double: the children are playing soldier, and the chocolate will give them “pep” for their play. But also we are meant to read this ad literally: chocolate provides real nourishment for real soldiers. Real cannons kill the enemy, of course. But chocolate cannons keep the troops going and, perhaps, win the war.

Candy, and chocolate in particular, was increasingly seen as the ideal ration under the dangers of war. As early as 1914, when the war broke out in Europe, U.S. candy makers took note of the popularity of chocolate among European armies as “a favorite emergency ration on account of its small bulk and the large amount of nutriment it contains.”

And then on in 1917 the life saving virtues of chocolate made the headlines. On June 1, two British aviators who had been shot down over the North Sea were finally rescued. They had been floating on wreckage for five days, sustained only by a small piece of chocolate which they shared. The U.S. Navy took note. In July, they announced “a new emergency ration, for issuance to the marines and sailors who may be ordered into action under circumstances which may result in their being separated for more than a day from their base of supplies. The ration will consist of biscuit and either a highly nutritious form of chocolate or peanut butter.”

By the time World War II came around, chocolate manufacturers were ready with U.S. military-approved field ration chocolate bars. But that’s another story.

Sources: “Troops and Chocolate,” International Confectioner November 1914, p. 42; “Aviators 5 Days on Wreckage Lived on a Piece of Chocolate,” New York Times, 2 June 1917; (No title: comment on Navy rations) International Confectioner August 1917, p. 57.

January 15, 2010 at 7:42 am 1 comment

Let’s Play War Candy!

Toy soldiers on market stall, customers in background (focus on toys)

What do you tell your children about the war? In my house, we try to avoid talk of violence, terrorism, torture, guns and bombs. My daughter is only six, and somehow I cling to the idea that I can shield her from the harsh realities for a little while longer.

So when I found ads for children’s candy from the era of World War I that emphasized war and weaponry, I was a bit surprised.

Zatek Milk Chocolate Eatmors were chocolate drops (similar to Hershey’s chocolate kisses) sold in a tube. Before WWI, ads for Eatmors suggested that kids could use the tube as a megaphone when they were finished with the candy. Then in 1916 they started a new campaign with a new toy idea:

Boom! the War is on. Children all over this peaceful land are having the time of their lives making toy cannons out of ZATEK Eatmor tubes and playing war. Each Eatmor cannon is loaded with 24 or more ’solid shot’ of pure, sweet, creamy milk chocolate.

The ads included diagrams showing how kids could turn the tubes into little play cannons by adding paper wheels, and a scene with brother and sister down on the playroom rug surrounded by toy soldiers and the Eatmor cannon.

The R.E. Rodda Company of Lancaster PA took the theme of national war preparedness for its 1916 line of penny candy novelties. Children could have 6 submarines, or 5 torpedo-boat destroyers, or 4 battleships for their penny purchase. Their ad copy featured a parody of the war-time news reels and tabloid headlines of the day:

Almost since the day the phrase, ’National Preparedness’ was born, we have been building (?) Battleships, Torpedo-Boat Destroyers and Submarines, until now we have a fleet second to none, and can supply each man, woman and child with a navy of their own. This is– National Preparedness.

Don’t wait for this ’bomb’ to drop in your territory–’arm yourself’ with a stock of these goods at once! Don’t ’defeat’ your opportunity for ’an overwhelming success’ this season, by running into doubt ’entanglements.’ Get busy! ’Mobilize’ your forces and begin ’the attack’ on the trade. ’Fire away’ with your orders–as stated before–we are Prepared!”

The U.S. joined the war officially in August 1917. But these advertisements from 1916 give a good idea of how deeply the feeling that war was coming had penetrated into the national spirit. We get a sense of jauntiness and confidence from the language of these ads: war is a good adventure, with little to fear. Candy cannons and submarines seem to transform war into a big game: its fun, if you know how to play.

For us today, the message “war is fun!” seems a little uncomfortable. Even more uncomfortable for me as a parent is the use of candy to encourage children to see the war as normal and fun. The “unconscious” work of these war candies and their advertising is to make every citizen, no matter how small, a participant in the war effort.

On the other hand, war is real. Are we doing more harm than good by sheltering our twenty-first century children from anything that would hint at the brutal truth?

Sources: Pennsylvania Chocolate Company ad for Zatek Eatmors, Confectioners Journal May 1916, p. 27; R.E. Rodda Candy Company ad, Confectioners Journal April 1916, p. 19.

January 13, 2010 at 7:15 am Leave a 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

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

    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

    Luden’s Penny Candy Part II

    In the previous post, we heard about William Luden’s problem: how could he distinguish his penny candy from the rest of the competition?

    Luden hired a team of investigators to quietly sound the market for him. They fanned out over the streets of Philadelphia, visiting all the places penny candies might be bought or eaten. Who was the penny candy customer? How best to reach that customer, and bring those pennies to Luden? Luden’s team visited the candy counters in the department stores, the retail confectioners, the small candy shops. They canvassed school-yards for a direct impression of children’s views.

    Luden’s investigators verified that children were the ones buying the penny candies, and they were buying them in the little candy shops. Grown-ups cared about quality, and when they bought candy in the better stores quality might be a deciding factor. But children buying candy for themselves in the little shops didn’t care about quality. They were looking for the biggest, the most, the brightest, the shiniest. If Luden was going to make any inroads on the basis of quality, he was going to have to persuade the parents.

    A new advertising campaign was launched with the explicit aim of appealing to parents’ concerns and their influence. The theme of the campaign juxtaposed the parents’ dollar purchases of grown-up candy with the child’s penny choices: “Your child’s penny is as important to us as your dollar.” Luden suggested that the quality to be had at the higher price could also be had in cheaper goods, if they chose the Luden brand. The new slogan: “Penny Candy made with Dollar Care.”

    So kids and parents then weren’t so different from kids and parents today. Parents worry about quality, safety, and health effects. Kids look for “extreme” flavors and colors and shapes. But kids today are less free to go where they want, or to buy what they want. On the other hand, marketing today speaks directly to kids, through TV channels promoting “kid power,” and Web sites, and kids “social networks.” Where candy is concerned, it seems there is likely to be conflict between what parents want for their kids, and what kids want. Do today’s lifestyles and technologies make for more conflict, or less?

    Source: “Little Stories of Success: William H. Luden: Standardizing Penny Candy for Children—How the Market Was Won by Addressing Parents.” Candy and Ice Cream Aug. 1915: 10.

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  • Luden’s Penny Candy, 1914 Part I
  • November 20, 2009 at 7:09 am 2 comments

    Luden’s Penny Candy, 1914 Part I

    Mr. William Luden may not be remembered in many high school history books, but you know him just the same. His name has been associated with cough drops since Mr. Luden first started making them in 1878.

    By 1914, Luden was a major candy manufacturer, and although his Reading, Pennsylvania factory made all sorts of candy, the main product was menthol cough drops. Lots of them. Six tons a day. Part of the reason he was so successful with the cough drops was that the Luden’s name was known, and customers could be relied on to demand and expect the Luden’s quality in their cough drops. The cough drops were packaged in a pouch bearing the Luden’s name, and Luden advertised heavily, both to retailers and “jobbers” (independent distributors), and also directly to customers.

    Luden also made and sold “penny candy,” candy that was unmarked and unadvertised. The retailers and the jobbers would take his penny candy because they knew it was good, and because they had good experience with Luden’s cough drops. But the customers didn’t know Luden’s penny candy from any other, and therein lay the problem. How could Luden make his penny candy stand out for the customer?

    No one had ever tried to “brand” penny candy or to advertise it directly to consumers. And initially, Mr. Luden wasn’t sure it could be done. He thought about it on and off for several years, as he watched the way the reputation of his cough drops helped build his business and protected him from the fiercest competition around price fluctuations. In the penny candy business, the profit margins were so slim that the smallest price difference could swing a retail order one way or the other. The only solution Mr. Luden could see would be to establish a standard on the basis of quality, so that slight variations of price would not have such an impact. And the only way to establish quality was to put his name on his penny candies as well.

    Could it work?

    Related Posts:

  • Luden’s Penny Candy Part II
  • November 18, 2009 at 6:08 pm 3 comments

    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

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    Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure

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