Free Shipping on Orders over $49 (Retail Only)

Shop Now

The Heath Bar: America’s “Finest” Toffee

What is the Heath Bar?

The heath bar is a deliciously thin, even candy bar, consisting of a thin layer of toffee wrapped in a smooth layer of milk chocolate. It’s the perfect combination of soft, smooth and crunch. Born in the U.S., the Heath Bar remains one of the nation’s great candy bars…all thanks to the doings of a schoolteacher and his two sons.

Heath Bar Today

Toffy, the Candy Bar, and the Birth of the Heath Bar

To understand the Heath Bar, it’s important to understand the candy bar. Now a favorite candy of American men today – the candy bar created by the Frye family of England in 1847. Most likely their candy bars were gritty as a means of creating the smooth chocolate didn’t exist yet. That changed in 1879 when Rodolphe Lindt invented a process known as “conching” to create the smooth, delectable texture of the chocolate we love so much today. CHOCOLATE BARS – In Order of Creation: Dark, Chocolate w/Almonds, Milk, White:

            Fry’s Chocolate ad 1901

Heath Bar, Hershey Bar, Peanut Chew: The Candy Bar Difference

Candy bars were different from other chocolates.  Most chocolates, indeed, most vintage candy, was weighed and sold by the pound. Candy bars, including the Heath Bar, Hershey Bar, and others, were called “count line’ candies, sold by the piece, typically wrapped and ready to go. Around 1912, a new invention appeared on the candy scene called “combination candy bars,” a chocolate candy bar filled caramel, peanuts, marshmallow, and, yes, toffee: all relatively new, post-Civil War ingredients the consumer loved. One of the first was the Goo Goo Cluster, made in Nashville and still around today:

              Goo Goo Cluster Made in 1912

These new candy bars gave confectioners the opportunity to fill their expensive chocolate with deliciously cheaper fillers, meaning they were more profitable. Even better, the count line aspect of candy bars, made them portable enough to withstand long trips to places such as the trenches in World War I, where they appeared in the first rations ever. These included the Clark Bar and Goldenberg’s Peanut Chew.


                                        Clark Bar Ad

The Heath Bar, which was invented in 1928, eventually made an appearance in the supplies of fighters during World War II.

      World War II Ad

Enter Milk Chocolate, Toffee & A New American Classic: The Heath Bar

In 1914, just as candy bars were making a mark in the chocolate kingdom, L.S. Heath, a schoolteacher in Illinois, was looking for a line of work for his two oldest sons Bayard and Everett. The reason? Were they ne’er-do-wells? Youngsters just starting out? History doesn’t tell. Luckily, L.S. Heath found a small confectionery for sale. He bought the shop and soon his sons were selling ice cream, fountain drinks, and sweets.

One thing led to another, and candy salesmen were hanging around the Heath brothers’ store, talking, as they do, about candy. One of them was raving about another candy-maker’s toffee, called “Trail Toffee.” Legend has it the salesmen offered to provide the Heath brothers with the recipe…and the next thing you know, it’s 1928 and the company is making what was known as “Heath English Toffee” or, simply “Heath Toffee.” The Heath Brothers tweaked the recipe and soon marketed it as “America’s Finest.” People traveled from all over the place to get some.

    Heath Bar Ad 1920s

What is the Difference Between Toffee, English Toffee, and… Buttercrunch?

The difference between English toffee and plain old toffee isn’t entirely clear. Some say English toffee, made by the British, is made with more butter, and tends to be softer than the American version. In fact, some British toffee is closer to American taffy than, well, toffee. Then, there’s the explanation that nuts are the decisive factor. American toffee has nuts and British toffee doesn’t. If it has nuts on top, it’s actually buttercrunch. If it has nuts in it, it’s American toffee which is actually peanut brittle. Got it?

Never mind – stick with this: When the Heaths started selling their Heath Bar, they described it as “Heath Milk Chocolate English Toffee Bar.”

  True Treats’ Buttercrunch


LOOK: Here’s a toffee comparison from The Nibble: The Nibble: Buttercrunch Toffee Difference

 The Heath Bar Marketing Dilemma

In 1915, as the candy business was taking off, L.S. Heath bought a dairy. All went well, and in 1931, L.S. quit his job teaching school after twenty years. He then convinced his sons to sell the candy store and join the dairy business. They did, bringing at least some of the candy-making machinery with them.

It was the younger generation who also thought up this great marketing idea: why not sell our candies through the dairymen who went house-to-house selling milk, ice, and cheese. Just add “Heath Toffee” to the list and customers will add it to their purchases along with other products. And, of course, they did.

The Heath family also confronted a dilemma common to just about any manufacturer of any candy. How to distinguish themselves from the other toffee/English toffee/taffy/buttercrunch/brittle makers. They knew a good logo was at hand. So, they designed logo which had a large “H” at either end, with the “eat” in lower caps in the middle: HeatH.

  Heath Bar Ad with Two H’s

Now, here were the marketing dilemmas: First, the bar was one ounce, while the others were four, which convinced consumers they were buying a penny candy and not a five-cent bar which was typical of candy-makers of the time. Second, shoppers thought the name of the company was H&H with the “eat” telling them what to do with it. A third problem: the packaging, name aside, made it look like the laxative Ex-Lax. Salesmen weren’t sure what they were supposed to sell.

Reasons unknown, the Heath Bar took off anyway and is made by Hershey Today.

Chocolate in the Cards

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.”

Featured Products:


Bridge Mix
Bridge Mix


Malted Milk Balls





Milk Duds



The Chocolate Covered: Peace-Maker and Friend to All

I have found the answer as to why chocolate is so loved. It comes down to this: its versatility. In fact, so accommodating and versatile is the chocolate, it could be a metaphor, if not symbol, for world peace. We have a number of new chocolates that prove the point beyond reason:

  • Chocolate covered ginger patties. The Mesoamerican chocolate merged with the Asian ginger plant for a perfect balance of spicy, bitter and sweet. All the better as these are hand-dipped in a shop that opened generations ago.
  • Chocolate covered apricot glace´. The cultivated apricot originated in the Mideast and Mediterranean, where, exactly, no one knows. So did the process of coating fruit in a sugar glaze aka glace´ – this goes back to the 1300s, probably earlier. The sugar tasted good, acted as a preservative, and had health-benefits.  Naturally, chocolate, with its Mesoamerican roots, accommodates it nicely.
  • Chocolate-covered coconut Needhams. This one is the oldest of our new selections, a favorite of a Reverend George Needham in the 1870s. The authentic ingredients include potatoes. We know how the European potatoes got to Maine but how about the coconut? Maine was a hub for whaling ships who traveled the world in search of whale meat and oils…and returned with other exotic prizes, the coconut among them.

As always, if you have any great examples of chocolate merging with other fruits, let us know. Something passed along from your family? Even better!

Featured Products:


Chocolate Covered Ginger


Chocolate Covered Apricot


Coconut Squares (Needhams)


Valentine’s Day: Why Hearts?

So, it’s almost Valentine’s Day and you might be wondering how the ubiquitous  hearts got their start. The shape actually evolved from the ancient and now extinct silphium plant, used in the fifth century by Romans as a spice, aphrodisiac and birth control measure. The plant’s seed pod was heart-shaped, much like the bleeding hearts you see today. At some point, the heart was also used as a  depiction of the anatomical heart.

Heart Shapes on 1545 German Card Deck

Around 1250, the heart took on sexual and religious significance, appearing as  an inverted pine cone. A hundred or so years later, it was featured in its current form on playing cards and art work.

1550 Danish Heart Shaped Manuscript of Love Ballads

As for the heart- shaped candy boxes,  that was the brainchild of the British Cadbury Company who invented them in the late 1800s. The idea took off as marketing grew into an unstoppable force, making Valentines Day the grand event it is today.

As for the Conversation Hearts, they started in a different form but eventually took on the heart shape. Also made in the mid-1800s, they were called “wedding candy,” with  romantic sayings printed on paper and wrapped around the candy.  Daniel Chase of Boston came up with a better idea and made a machine that dropped words onto the batter directly.

By the way, Daniel is the brother of NECCO Wafer-maker Oliver Chase. And that’s why they taste so similar!






Huffington Post,

NPR, The Dark Origins of Valentine’s Day

Sweet as Sin: The Unwrapped Story of How Candy Became America’s Favorite Pleasure