From 1800s to Retro Candy
From Medicines to Treats
The 1800s were a time of tremendous change. The rise of industry. The start of candy as we know it. Many sweets began as medicine, such as licorice root which people chewed to clean their teeth and later became candy. Horehound and rock candy were used for upset stomachs and sore throats. Rock candy is till popular today – horehound, not so much! NECCO Wafers were made in an 1847 apothecary and became one of the first penny candies.
Saloons, Soldiers… and Jelly Beans?
And speaking of rock candy… Many candies also got their start in saloons such as rock candy. This candy crystal has long been used as a fermenting agent and was the main ingredient in the most popular saloon drink of the 19th century – Rock n’ Rye. Turkish Delight, a medicine for sore throat (first sold in 9th century Arabic apothecaries), became the jelly bean in Boston and was sent to Civil War solders.
Fun Foods & The Rise of Industry
Eventually, today’s favorite candies, such as buttermints, were just for fun. After the Civil War, industry made new candies possible – like caramel, an American original. Marshmallows were all the rage thanks to new instant gelatin. Salt water taffy, the venerable favorite, was first made by the seashore in the late 1880s – but never actually contained salt! These candies were made just for fun – mand rmain so today.
The Nation’s Oldest Candy Brand…
The rise of industry also meant the rise of candy brands – many of which we still know today! Good & Plenty, the nation’s oldest candy brand, debuted in 1893. Tootsie Rolls, first made in 1896, were named for the creator’s daughter “Tootsie.” The first “kiss” candy, chocolate Wilbur Buds, became popular in the late 1800s. Their more famous rival, the Hershey Kiss, was actually a knock off version of the delicious original – the Wilbur Bud.
Our penny candy collection contains a variety of different treats commonly sold as penny candy – from the 1800s through the 1950s! The earliest penny candies were NECCO Wafers (1847), candy sticks (1837) and pulled creams (mid 1800s). Jelly beans, enjoyed by Union soldiers, descended from Turkish Delight, originally a 9th century Arabic sore throat remedy. The 1880s and ’90s brought circus peanuts, and the turn-of-century brought Lifesavers, first sold at saloons.
The Early 1900s & Prohibition Sweets
The early 1900s brought Jawbreakers – a descendent of the sugar plum candies of the 1600s! Bit O’Honey and other toffees hit shelves in the 1920s, along with Dum-Dums, named by a salesman thinking children would remember the name. Charleston Chews, named for the speakeasy dance, and Nik L Nips – wax bottles that looked like nips of whiskey. An accountant at Fleer Gum invented Dubble Bubble – the first bubblegum in the United States in the late 1920s.
Retro Penny Candy Explosion
What lay ahead in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s? A drink mix-turned-candy, Pixy Stix, appeared. Later, the company received so many complaints from parents about their children making messes when eating the dusty treat, they created a cleaner version of the same candy – the SweeTart! Fireballs, Satellite Wafers, candy buttons, and other wonders later crowded on candy store shelves.