Bridge was a popular card game in the early to mid-1900s: it was strategic and engaging, where partners played against other partners, for hours on end. Besides, what better way to escape the horrors of the Depression, the Second World War, and the Cold War? Naturally, the players grew hungry so candy-makers, among others, served as the perfect finger foods where players could nibble away using one hand while holding the cards with another.
Soon, the candies found homes in movie theaters, Halloween collections, grandmother’s candy bowls and just about any other candy-friendly places. So here’s the back story to a few of these shiny little wonders:
- Bridge Mix: A compilation of chocolate covered nuts and fruits, this was the ultimate bridge players’ sweet snack. Also comes in licorice, reminiscent of the 19th century licorice allsorts, still available today.
- Malted Milk Balls: The malted milk was invented by a British food-maker living in Wisconsin as infant formula. It was a dud with parents but a hit with explorers who took it to the North and South Poles, among other places. Later, it was encased with chocolate and appeared in the less dangerous living rooms of American homes.
- Chocolate Covered Raisins: To me, the perfect companion to the ultra-sweet chocolate, with a hint of tart. These guys also became popular in movie theaters in the mid-20th century in ultra-big movie theater sizes…still there today.
- Milk Duds. Candy-makers at the F. Hoffman Company of Chicago wanted the chocolate treat to have the malted milk balls shiny finish but the chocolate kept denting the caramels, making the balls wobbly and misshapen. The balls were, in fact, duds. So, savvy marketers called the result “Milk Duds.”