Has candy really changed over the years?
Though the costumes and styles get a revamp every year, and there’s always some new hero or villain kids want to dress as, the basic Halloween traditions haven’t changed for almost 100 years. Depending on where you are in Canada, this often means braving the cold and the dark as determined children lay siege to the community in search of the treasured candy.
The candy, not unlike the costume has also gone through many stages of change and evolution as the years role by. It wasn’t until the 1950’s when purchasing your candy stash at the local store became a real option for most families. Prior most families made homemade sweets and treats to be given at the door. According to a 1964 Waldbaum’s ad posted in the Times, the price of Milky Way, Snickers and 3 Musketeers bars were 59 cents per pound, or $4.42 per pound today.
During the 1970’s there was a much larger move by the general populace to purchase the candy from a store instead of giving out homemade treats. Worries and fears increased of children getting sick or something far more sinister happening. As the demand increased, so did the available options. But how much has the candy really changed over the years?
Late 1800’s – 1930
This era signaled the worlds foray into what would soon become the mass produced candy bar we know today. After a great run-up to the turn of the century, in 1900 Milton Hershey introduced the variation of his candy bar that would become the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar. The first decade belonged to Hersey as he created the Hersey Kiss in 1906 and added almonds to the original chocolate bar in 1908. Hersey wasn’t the only game in town though as Toblerone also made its debut in 1908.
The next few decades saw a burst of innovative candy bars and sweets, many of which are still with us today. Life Savers first appeared in 1912 and Turtles and the famed Clark bar closed out the 1910’s.
The 1920’s is where things really got going. O’Henry kicked things off in 1920 with follow-up acts by Charleston Chew, Baby Ruth, Milky Way and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. This decade also saw the appearance of Milk Duds, Jujyfruits, the original Gummy Bear, and was also when Hersey Kiss’s got their famed paper “flag”.
1930 – 1960
While Hersey was busy establishing their footprint in the American candy sector, the next 30 years would see the appearance of a few other big players in the sweet-tooth game.
Mars (est. 1911) had a good run when introducing their Milky Way bar, but hit their stride in 1930 when they released the first Snickers bar. The name of the candy bar came from the Mars family’s beloved horse. That decade Mars would go on to produce the Mars Bar and 3 Musketeers.
The 1940’s kicked off with the introduction of a new candy from M&M that would “melt in your mouth and not in your hand”. A few other Halloween staples were produced that decade including Dots, Bazooka Bubble Gum, Junior Mints and Whoppers.
The following decade saw M&M take their candy to the next level adding a variation with a peanut in the center, Bazooka Joe was introduced originally as The Atomic Bubble Boy, and the Candy Necklace and Pixy Stix were first introduced.
1960 – 1990
By the 60’s the inventing had only just begun. Starburst Fruit Chews hit the stage to open the decade followed by a nifty invention by the Cadbury Brothers in 1963 of the Cadbury Crème Egg. It would also be the decade Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup would no longer belong to Reece. Hersey would buy their competitor for $23 million and double its production by the start of 1970.
The 1970’s had less to do with chocolate and more exploration was made on the sweet candy front. Sour Patch Kids (originally named Mars Men and only available in Canada for a time) kicked off the decade. Other candy that has stood the test of time like Laffy Taffy, Pop Rocks, Ring Pop and Jelly Belly also made their debut. The decade would close out with Mars producing the Twix Bar only to be upstaged by a new product from Hershey labs called Reese’s Pieces.
The 80’s not to be outdone saw the creation of Big League Chew, Nerds and Skittles. It would also be the decade M&M’s went to space but also had their Brown M&M banned from Van Halen’s dressing room! It would also be during this time the Sour Patch Kids made the journey South to the United States from Canada.
1990 – 2020
This is the era in which the inventing seems to have hit a wall. Although new inventions and sweets are still being produced, nothing the likes of which we have seen over the years prior seems to have taken hold. Hershey’s introduced the partner to the Hershey Kiss, the white chocolate Hershey Hug, and M&M introduced the Starburst Jelly Belly to markets in 1993.
What an incredible century plus of innovation and change! Only our imaginations can restrict what we may come up with next. Please stay safe this year when trick-or-treating. Maybe when you sneak through the kids “loot” this year you can find some old staples of a bygone era with the same great taste.