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The History of Candy


A fun historic timeline with the names you know and love, and a few you've never heard of!

We want to cover all of the bases when it comes to candy, so we put together some information about the sweet stuff most of us love to eat!

We come from varied backgrounds, but all of have a sweet tooth hidden somewhere. Or if you are like our candy people here at Groovy, your sweet tooth isn’t hidden! The scales here are only to weigh packages!

We started the web business in 1999, and have already seen many items come and go! The recently released Skittle’s Riddles are going to be retro in a few years – right? Having recently added a part-time archivist to our staff, we knew it was time to put this section together – so here goes! You are going to read a Candy Timeline with a look at how candy appeared and disappeared over the years.

Lovers of chocolate will enjoy a taste of the pages all about Chocolate.

We started this business with one product – a boxed retro collection we called A Blast from the Past®. Were we nuts? As retro candy is our specialty, you have to check out the page with Retro Candy TV Commercials.

Retro Candy Timeline

As consumers of candy since a very young age, we have seen many groovy candies get discontinued. Being in the business since 1999, we have been asked many questions about the ones that went away!

To present you an exact and totally complete history would use up our whole budget for the year, so we tried to simply lay out the time frame for the development of the American candy industry beginning in the 1800s. Please note that this timeline is for entertainment purposes only and we cannot guarantee all of the information here. All information was sourced from the National Confectioners Association’s website, as they are the ultimate authority on candy!

1800s

• 1848 John Curtis produces the first branded chewing gum, made from tree sap, called The State of Maine Spruce Gum

• 1854 The first packaged box of Whitman's Chocolate hits the scene

• 1868 Richard Cadbury makes the first Valentine's Day box of chocolates, starting the tradition that continues today

• 1879 William H. Thompson creates Thompson Chocolate with the stated goal to "make only quality products"

• 1880s Wunderle Candy Company creates candy corn, still a best-selling Halloween candy

• 1890 The Piedmont Candy Company, manufacturer of Red Bird Peppermint Puffs, is founded in Lexington, North Carolina

• 1891 Claus Doscher opens Doscher Brothers Confections and a few years later, after tasting taffy in France, the company introduces the famed French Chews

• 1893 Milton Hershey attends the World's Colombian Exposition in Chicago and watches chocolate being manufactured. Impressed, he purchases the new manufacturing equipment at great expense and has it shipped from Germany to his factory in Pennsylvania

• 1893 William Wrigley, Jr. introduces Juicy Fruit Chewing Gum and Wrigley's Spearmint Chewing Gum

• 1893 Thomas Richardson, creator of Richardson Brands, introduces Pastel Mints at a department store in Philadelphia, PA

• 1894 Milton Hershey creates what is known as the first "American" candy bar, although his famous Milk Chocolate Bar won’t be invented for a few more years

• 1896 Leo Hirshfield, New York confectioner, introduces Tootsie Rolls, named after his daughter's nickname, "Tootsie"

• 1899 The Jenner Manufacturing company is created. The name changes to Judson Atkinson 45 years later

1900s

• 1900 Milton Hershey introduces a variation of what will eventually become the Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar

•1901The King Leo pure peppermint stick candy is developed

• 1901 Multicolored candy disks called NECCO Wafers first appear. The name NECCO is an abbreviation for the New England Confectionery Company

• 1902 NECCO makes the first Conversation Hearts which are still a thriving Valentine’s Day tradition

• 1904 Emil Brach starts Brach's Candy, his second attempt at the candy business. The first product was wrapped caramels which sold for $.20 a pound

• 1905 The Squirrel Brand Company of Massachusetts creates the first peanut bar known as the Squirrel Nut Zipper. It was discontinued in the late 1980s, but resurrected in the 1990s

• 1906 Spangler Manufacturing Company, know now as Spangler Candy, is created. The company got its start manufacturing baking soda products, but added candy to their repertoire in 1908

• 1906 Hershey's Milk Chocolate Kisses appear in the iconic silver foil wrapping and a town in Pennsylvania called Derry Church changes its name to Hershey. The original Hershey's Kisses were called Silvertops and sold as individual units

• 1908 Hershey's adds almonds to its already famous Milk Chocolate Bar

1910s

• 1911 Ethel and Frank Mars open a candy company in Tacoma, Washington. The company, later Mars, Inc., would become one of the largest privately owned candy companies in the entire world

• 1912 Life Savers, reportedly named because of their resemblance to life preservers, are introduced in peppermint flavor. The five-flavor roll isn’t marketed for another 22 years

• 1912 The Whitman's Sampler box of chocolates debuts and is the first box of chocolates to include an index for chocolate lovers to pick exactly which piece they want to eat

• 1913 Goo Goo Clusters are introduced, the first candy bar to combine milk chocolate, marshmallow, caramel, and peanuts

• 1914 The Heath Bar is introduced by L.S. Heath & Sons

• 1917 Goldenberg Candy Company, in Philadelphia, PA, creates the Goldenberg's Peanut Chews as a high-protein energy ration for WWI troops (they aren’t available to retail customers until 1921, however). 

1920s

• 1920 Fannie May Candies opens its first retail candy store in Chicago

• 1920 Williamson Candy Co., introduces the Oh Henry! Bar!

• 1921 Chuckles, colorful, sugared jelly candies, hit the scene

• 1921 Hershey automates its production process and Hershey's Kisses are now machine-wrapped and adorned with a small "flag" on top

• 1922 H.B. Reese makes the first peanut butter candy coated with Hershey's Milk Chocolate, which we now know as the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.

• 1923 The Baby Ruth candy bar, named for President Grover Cleveland’s daughter, is introduced by Curtiss Candy Co.

• 1923 The Mounds Chocolate Bar , coconut filling coated in milk chocolate, makes its debut. Invented by Peter Paul Halijian, it sells under the name Peter Paul Mounds since Halijian is too difficult to pronounce

• 1923 Mars introduces the Milky Way Candy Bar, designed to taste like malted milk. It’s one of the first candies with a nougat center

• 1923 Hershey's Kisses become so popular that the Hershey Company registers the name for federal trademark protection

• 1924 Fair Play Caramel Company introduces Kits and BB Bats Taffy. The brand has been sold to 6 manufacturers over the years, but the candy is still available.

• 1925 Hershey continues to innovate and introduces the first Milk Chocolate Bar with Peanuts, called Mr.Goodbar.

• 1925 The honey-flavored taffy bar made with almond bits, called Bit-O-Honey, is introduced

• 1926 Milk Duds are first sold

• 1928 Primrose Candy Company is established, focusing on manufacturing hard candies

• 1928 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are first marketed to the public. They are still one of the best-selling candy bars of all time

1930s

• 1930 M&M Mars introduces the Snickers Bar, named after the Mars family’s beloved horse

• 1931 Tootsie Roll Pops are introduced, which some consider the first novelty candy since they combine two candies in one

• 1931 A lucky accident involving marshmallow at the Sifer’s Candy Company leads to the creation of the Valomilk Candy Bar, originally known as Valomilk Dips

• 1932 M&M Mars introduces the MARS Candy Bar, later renamed Snickers Almond Crunch in the late 1990s

• 1932 Charles Howard creates Violet Mints in a New York industrial loft. The product was first sold on New York street corners

• 1932 Ferrara Pan Candy Company, located in Chicago, introducesRed Hots

• 1932 M&M Mars debuts the 3 Musketeers, featuring chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry nougat. This flavor combination only lasted 13 years

• 1936 Breaking from tradition, William Luden, one of the creators of cough drops, introduces the 5th Avenue Candy Bar.

• 1936 Marpo offers the first non-meltable ice cream cone called Marpo "Yum Yum" MarshmalloMarshmallow Cones.

• 1938 Hershey introduces a candy bar that combines milk chocolate with Rice Krispies, called the Krackel Bar.

• 1939 Hershey's Miniatures chocolate bars debut

• 1939 Overland Candy Company introduces chocolate-covered malt balls called Giants

• 1939 Blommer Chocolate Company opens a huge factory in Chicago which will become the largest chocolate manufacturer in North America

1940s

• 1941 Bruce Murrie, the President of Hershey Chocolates, joins forces with Forrest Mars and opens a company called M&M Ltd

• 1941 M&M's Plain Chocolate candies are introduced in response to depressed chocolate sales during the summer months (these candies will "melt in your mouth, not in your hand”)

• 1940 Hershey produces a special chocolate bar called the D Bar which is high in calories and has a high melting point, designed as a survival ration for soldiers. It is wrapped in wax paper so that it will be impervious to poisonous gas, and to prevent soldiers from eating it too quickly, the flavor is bittersweet

• 1942-1945 To help maintain wartime morale, women at the Whitman’s Candy Company slipped notes to soldiers in boxes of Whitman’s Chocolate Samplers set to ship to the troops. The notes resulted at least a few friendships and even a couple of marriages

• 1945 M&M Mars decides to change the formula for the 3 Musketeers Bar to one that’s all chocolate, eliminating the vanilla and strawberry flavors

• 1947 Frankford Candy & Chocolate Company is founded in Philadelphia, PA

• 1949 Junior Mints are introduced

• 1949 Smarties candy roll wafersare introduced, often called "candy pills”

• 1949 El Bubble Bubble Gum Cigars are the first five-cent bubble gum

• 1949 Leaf Confectionery changes the name of a popular chocolate-covered malted milk ball from Giants to Whoppers

1950s

• 1950 Sam Altshuler creates the Annabelle Candy Company, named for his daughter. His first product is the Rocky Road Candy Bar

• 1954 Just Born introduces Marshmallow Peeps in the shape of Easter chicks

• 1950 Bob’s Candy Canes are introduced, sold under the Cris Cringle brand

• 1958 Candy Necklaces are introduced, an enduring retro candy classic

1960s

• 1960 Looking to create a healthy candy, M&M Mars introducesStarburst Fruit Chews, which are later fortified with Vitamin C

• 1960 Amurol confections introduces the first sugar-free bubble gum. They called it Blammo

• 1960 Ferrara Pan Candy Company introduces Lemonheads and, later this same year,Apple Heads,Grape Heads,and Orange Heads

• 1962 Hershey begins to sell Hershey's Kisses in colored wrappers

• 1963 SweeTarts hit the market

• 1963 The Hershey’s Chocolate Company acquires the H.B. Reese Company for the sum of $23 million

• 1966 The Campbell Soup Company acquires Belgian chocolatier Godiva

• 1968 Zotz are introduced, one of the first "sour fizzy" candies



1970s

• 1970 M&M Mars introduces the Snickers Munch Bar

• 1970 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups become so popular that the Hershey Food Corporation doubles its production in order to meet worldwide demand

• 1973 Hershey opens the first candy-related theme park known as Hershey's Chocolate World

• 1973 Hershey becomes the first candy company to offer ingredients and nutritional information on wrappers

•1976 Herman Goelitz Company introduces individually-flavored jelly beans called Jelly Belly.

• 1976 Hershey decides to tweak the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and offers a version with peanuts called Reese's Crunchy

• 1977 Hershey introduces a new variation of the "Great American Chocolate Bar" called Golden Almond

• 1978 Because of the massive success of Reese Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey’s introduces Reese's Pieces

• 1979 M&M Mars introduces the Twix Caramel Cookie Candy Bar



1980s


• 1980 Herman Goelitz Company introduces the first American-made gummi bears and gummi worms, which up to now had been imported from Europe

• 1981 After their success in Europe, M&M Mars introduces Skittles Bite Size Candies to the United States

• 1983 Albanese Candy is founded with the aim of producing the world's best gummi products

• 1988 Hershey’s Chocolate Company is renamed Hershey Chocolate USA

• 1989 Hershey introduces the Symphony Bar, a combination of almonds, toffee, and milk chocolate


1990s

• 1990 Hershey sends 144,000 heat-resistant candy bars to soldiers in the Gulf War. The formula is identical to what they sent to soldiers in WWII

• 1991 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups continue to be a worldwide best-seller and the recipe is improved with three times the amount of peanuts

• 1992 M&M Mars introduces the Dove Dark Chocolate Bar and Dove Milk Chocolate Bar.

• 1993 Hershey introduces Miniature Hershey's Kisses as well as white chocolate kisses called Hugs.

• 1994 M&M Mars introduces Starburst Jelly Beans.

• 1996 Zingos, another one of several strong mint introductions, is created by Brown & Haley.

• 1998 Holopops become the first hologram lollipops introduced by Light Vision Confections. The design on their etched surface appears to change as you move the pop.

• 1999 Sound Bites Lollipops from Cap Candies is the first radio-lollipop combination in the growing interactive candy segment.

So there you have it!  More will be added and we welcome your historical perspective too!

For even more sweet fun take a look at our History of the Lollipop.

Want to debate the Top Candy of all time? We are ready for you - take a look at our list of the Top Candy of all time.
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