The Fascinating History of Classic American Candies (2023)

Candy has been a beloved treat for generations, bringing joy to people of all ages. But did you know that some of your favorite candies have a rich history that dates back decades? In this article, we'll take a trip down memory lane and explore the origins of classic American candies that are still being sold today. From Necco Wafers to Butterfinger Bars, these sweet confections have stood the test of time and continue to delight candy lovers around the world.

Necco Wafers: A Taste of History

Let's start our journey with Necco Wafers, a candy that has been enjoyed for over a century. These colorful, disk-shaped candies were first made in 1847 and were originally referred to as "hub wafers" by Union soldiers during the Civil War . When Chase Company merged with New England Confectionary Company in 1912, they changed the name to Necco Wafers. What makes Necco Wafers truly unique is that the recipe and design have remained unchanged since the 1900s, making them a nostalgic treat for many.

Baby Ruth Bars: A Sweet Mystery

Next up, we have Baby Ruth Bars, a classic candy that has sparked debates about its origin. First made by Curtiss Candy Company in 1921, the candy bar's name has been the subject of much speculation. The company initially claimed that it was not named after famous baseball player Babe Ruth, but rather after Grover Cleveland's daughter, Ruth Cleveland. However, this explanation did not satisfy the public, and an alternative theory emerged that the candy bar was named after the candy maker's own granddaughter Regardless of its origin, Baby Ruth Bars have become a staple in the world of American candy.

Bit-O-Honey: A Bite-Sized Delight

In 1924, Bit-O-Honey bars made their debut, becoming the first of their kind. These chewy treats were originally full-sized bars, but today they are more commonly found in miniature form. Just imagine trying to finish a full-sized Bit-O-Honey bar during the Great Depression when candy bars were meant to be savored for hours.

Abba Zaba Bars: A Sticky Combination

If you're a fan of peanut butter and taffy, then Abba Zaba Bars are the perfect candy for you. These sticky treats combine the two ingredients to create a unique and delicious flavor. Some candy enthusiasts even recommend freezing Abba Zaba Bars and squeezing out the peanut butter like toothpaste for an extra special treat. Produced by Annabelle Candy Co., these bars are a California favorite and can now be delivered right to your doorstep.

Chuckles: A Burst of Flavor

Chuckles, introduced in 1921, are jelly candies coated in a layer of sugar. These colorful treats come in five different flavors: lime, orange, cherry, yellow, and licorice. While some compare them to Sunkist Fruit Gems, candy purists argue that Chuckles are far superior. With their burst of fruity flavor, Chuckles have become a beloved classic in the world of American candy .

Candy Cigarettes: A Taboo Treat

In the 1930s, candy cigarettes became a popular and controversial candy. These chalky candies were designed to resemble cigarettes and were even banned in some states, including North Dakota, from 1953 to 1967. Eventually, the manufacturers had to remove the red tip and market them as "candy sticks." While they may no longer be referred to as candy cigarettes, these nostalgic treats remain a part of American nostalgia.

Big Hunk: A Sweet and Chewy Delight

The Big Hunk bar is a honey-sweetened nougat and peanut candy that offers two ways to enjoy it. For a "snack attack," you can smack it on a hard surface and eat it in pieces. If you prefer a "soft and chewy treat," simply place it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds. However you choose to enjoy it, the Big Hunk bar is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth .

Oh Henry! Bars: A Peanut-Caramel Delight

The origin of the name "Oh Henry!" bar is shrouded in mystery. Some believe it was named after a boy who would visit the factory and flirt with girls, while others think it's an homage to the writer O. Henry. Regardless of its name, the Oh Henry! bar is a chocolate-covered mixture of peanuts and caramel, similar to a Baby Ruth bar. So, be sure not to confuse the two when reaching for a delicious treat .

Mary Jane: A Peanut Butter Classic

This year marks the 100th birthday of Mary Jane candies, bite-sized peanut butter and molasses treats. Charles N. Miller started his own candy company in 1884, manufacturing the candy in a home that was previously owned by Paul Revere. Today, Mary Jane candy is still made in Revere, Massachusetts, and remains a popular choice for those seeking "healthy" candy options, as it is gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free.

Chiclets: The Gum with a Chicle Twist

Chiclets gum has a unique history that dates back to the 1870s. The main ingredient in chewing gum, "chicle," was originally intended for rubber products like toys and rain boots. However, when Thomas Adams discovered that chicle could be used for gum, he started his own gum company, Adams New York Gum, in 1871. Chiclets gum, wrapped in a hard candy shell, was added to the American Chicle Company in 1914, and it quickly became a popular choice for gum enthusiasts.

Zero Bars: A Unique White Chocolate Experience

The Zero bar, often referred to as the white Snickers, made its debut in the 1920s as a truly unique candy bar. Unlike most candy bars coated in milk chocolate, the Zero bar features a mixture of nougat, almonds, and peanuts generously covered in white chocolate. Originally known as the Double Zero bar, it was later shortened to Zero in 1934. Contrary to popular belief, the Zero bar does not contain zero calories, but it does offer a delicious and distinct taste.

Chick-O-Stick: A Fun and Crunchy Treat

Chick-O-Stick is a popular vintage candy that has stood the test of time. Made by Atkinson Company, this peanut butter and coconut treat is often compared to Butterfinger bars, but without the chocolate coating. It's a fun candy to eat, and breaking off a piece of Chick-O-Stick is a great way to enjoy it at any event .

Clark's Teaberry Gum: A Refreshing Delight

Clark's Teaberry Gum has been delighting gum enthusiasts since the early 1900s. This unique gum even had its own dance in the 1960s, thanks to a song called "Teaberry Shuffle" by Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass. With its refreshing flavor, Clark's Teaberry Gum quickly gained popularity and remains a favorite among gum connoisseurs.

U-No Bars: A Truffle Candy Sensation

U-No bars are chocolate truffle candies that were first manufactured by the Cardinet Candy Company during the Great Depression. These delectable treats were the first of their kind, as truffle candies had only been discovered two decades prior. Despite their smaller size compared to other candy bars of the era, U-No bars quickly gained a loyal following and continue to be enjoyed by candy lovers today.

Cherry Mash: A Cherry-Chocolate Delight

Cherry Mash candies have a dedicated following and are considered the best-selling cherry and chocolate bar on the market. These golf-ball sized candies are covered in chocolate and feature a real maraschino cherry center mixed with peanuts. While many companies have tried to replicate the Cherry Mash recipe over the years, the original version remains the most popular choice for cherry and chocolate lovers.

Butterfinger Bars: A Classic Crunch

Butterfinger Bars have been satisfying candy cravings since 1923. The design of the Butterfinger wrapper has remained largely unchanged over the years, with only the company logo receiving updates. In a clever marketing move, Butterfinger bars were even dropped from planes equipped with mini parachutes to create a buzz around the candy. Today, Butterfinger Bars continue to be a beloved treat enjoyed by candy enthusiasts of all ages.


The world of classic American candies is filled with rich history and delightful flavors. From Necco Wafers to Butterfinger Bars, these timeless treats have brought joy to generations of candy lovers. Whether you're reminiscing about your favorite childhood candy or discovering these classics for the first time, there's no denying the enduring appeal of these sweet confections. So go ahead, indulge in a taste of nostalgia and enjoy the simple pleasure of a classic American candy.

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