Making History Monday: Jelly Beans

I'm guessing that everyone knows about former President Reagan's love of Jelly Belly jelly beans. I've always loved his quote, "You can tell a lot about a fella's character by whether he picks out all of one color or just grabs a handful.", to explain why he kept a jar of jelly beans on hand for important meetings. It is hard to know what he meant for sure. I imagine it was something about taking the good with the bad, which happens a lot in politics and a lot in jelly bean eating too. Politics aside, I am glad that an American President enjoyed Jelly Beans as much as I do. As we are approaching Easter, I thought I'd write about jelly bean history this week. I also have quite a few jelly bean reviews ready to go.

As for jelly bean history, there are a few things everyone is sure of. Jelly beans are some sort of variation of Turkish Delight. Turkish Delight originated in Turkey in the 1700s and is a jelly candy with powdered sugar on it. The panning process used on the outside of the jelly bean was developed in the 1600s in France. That panning process was used on almonds, creating the Jordan Almond. Put the two processes together (jelly from Turkish Delight plus panning from Jordan Almonds) and you've made a jelly bean. According to wikipedia, William Schrafft of Boston is credited with this first combination of jelly center and panned exterior that we call the jelly bean. He sold them to soldiers during the U.S. Civil War. The history then skips to 1930 when the jelly bean becomes an Easter candy. Most people feel this is because the jelly bean has an egg-like shape. Between the 1930's to today, jelly beans became one of the most popular candies sold at Easter. One source said 16 million pounds of jelly beans are sold per year during Easter. (This is a condensed history from several sources.)

Despite an unexciting story of origin, the jelly bean is one of my favorite easter candies. Maybe it is appropriate that such a simple candy should have a humble beginning. I couldn't resist buying a lot of new flavors this year. My wife says I shouldn't do 10 straight days of jelly bean reviews, so I'll try to mix a few other reviews in too. I absolutely LOVE jelly beans! I am considering making the photo below the wallpaper for my computer! Check in over the next two weeks to read my reviews of a wide variety of jelly beans.

Jelly Bean Photo from Wikipedia:

Making History Monday: Marathon Bar

Marathon bar wrapper - M&M Mars - 1973-1974

Photo by JasonLiebig He has an awesome collection of old wrappers on Flickr.

Behold, the Marathon bar!!! This bar was a favorite of Robin Hood and King Arthur, it is, A LEGEND. Okay, that's not really true, but the way some people talk about the Marathon bar, you would think this was the greatest candy bar ever made. A legend, eaten by legends, and it included a ruler??!!

The Marathon bar was introduced by M&M Mars (Mars Inc.) in 1973 (wikipedia says August 1973 to be exact). The bar was eight inches long. The package had a ruler printed on it so you knew exactly how long it was. You can read Candy Blog's other explanation for the ruler HERE. The bar was a perfectly braided caramel that was covered in milk chocolate. Ounce for ounce it wasn't any bigger than today's candy bars but the novelty was the length of this candy bar (it was quite thin). This bar was pulled from the shelves in 1981 after a sales slump. Most people contribute the sales slump to Mars pulling a very successful advertising campaign in the late 1970s (see video below). I find it ironic that a bar with the slogan "Lasts a Good Long Time" was pulled from the market after a short 7-8 year run.

The Marathon name lived on in the U.K. on a bar that we'd call a Snickers bar in the U.S. Mars then pulled the Marathon name from the U.K. bars in 1990 and renamed them Snickers, so the Marathon legend is gone forever. If you are looking for a Marathon bar substitute, many people say the Cadbury Curly Wurly is a perfect fit. I've never tried one, so I cannot tell you for sure. Old Time Candy has a nice write-up on the Marathon and an ordering page for the Curly Wurly HERE. (BTW, I'm not affiliated with Old Time Candy in any way.)

Making History Monday: The Pearson Candy Company

The Pearson's Company celebrated their 100 year anniversary in May, 2009. I have several of their products I'd like to review this week so it seemed only natural to start off with the Pearson's Company history. I have to admit that I love Pearson's Salted Nut Rolls. They are produced in a neighboring state and I swear we get some of the freshest Pearson's products sold in our stores. I know a lot of people will eat a Snickers to help get them through the day, but a Salted Nut Roll is my protein packed candy bar of choice. I've been known to skip meals altogether and eat a Nut Roll instead. My in-laws eat them as "mini-meals" when making a long road trip...neverminding the occasional peanut that falls to the car's carpet. Bias aside, this is a great company that makes just a few products and makes them well.

The Pearson Candy Company was started by three brothers (2 more brothers joined the company after a few years) in the early 1900s as a candy distribution company. At some point they realized they could make more money making their own candy and their first product was the five-cent Nut Goodie Bar, which is still in production today. Their second product was the Salted Nut Roll that they introduced in the height of the Great Depression. The popularity of the Salted Nut Roll led to several copy cats bars (ie. the Payday bar), so the Pearson's changed the name to the Choo Choo bar. They later brought back the Salted Nut Roll name and put a more prominent logo on the label to differentiate their bar from the copy cats.

After WWII, the brothers dropped the distribution business to concentrate on making candy. Business has been very good for them over the years and has allowed for a few acquisitions. They first purchased the Trudeau Candy Company, also in St. Paul, Minnesota, which made the Mint Pattie and Seven Up bar. The Mint Pattie is still in production today but sadly the Seven Up Bar was dropped because of its complexity and cost. The Seven Up bar (link goes to wrapper image) has lived on in candy bar legend as one of those bars people absolutely loved growing up and dream about to this day.

In 1968, the Pearson family sold the company to the TT/Continental Baking who then sold it 10 years later in 1979 to The Confections Group. The Confections Group almost ruined the entire Pearson's company and should be known as the "Seven Up bar killers". The good news is that in 1985, two former employees purchased the Pearson's Candy Company and returned it to its roots of making quality candy. Pearson's last acquisition was in 1998 when the Bun Trademark was acquired from Clark Bar America. The Bun Cluster was a perfect match for the Nut Goodie bar and allowed expansion for Pearson's into other markets.

From Wikipedia: Salted Nut Rolls and Mint Patties account for approximately 80 percent of the company’s sales; Nut Goodie and Bun Bars account for the remainder. Mint Patties are sold nationally and Salted Nut Rolls are available in approximately 60 percent of the company's outlets. In the Twin Cities, Salted Nut Rolls consistently rank number one or number three in sales. Although the products are not sold internationally, the company is the 99th largest confectionery company in the world by revenue.

Pearson's utilizes 200 tons of peanuts, 400 tons of sugar, 100 tons of chocolate and 350 tons of corn syrup per month. Products are produced in the company’s 130,000 sq. ft. plant on three production lines.

Fantastic Link to Pearson's Company History, including old wrappers, timeline and movies.

Pearson's Salted Nut Roll 15-cent candy bar wrapper - 1970's
Originally uploaded by one of my favorite Flickr photographers: jasonliebig

Making History Monday: Love Nest Bar

As Valentine's Day gets closer and closer I'm reminded of a candy bar my Grandmother told me about. It was a $.05 candy bar called the "Love Nest". My grandpa used to hide one in her apron pocket after he'd been to town. This was a classic nut roll recipe: a fudge center with caramel, peanuts and then chocolate on the outside. Two candy bars still being made today that would be similar in composition would be the Baby Ruth and Oh Henry! candy bars.

The sad thing about long forgotten candy bars is that sometimes history dies with them. It is thought that there have been over 100,000 candy bars made and sold in North America. With that many bars, it's not going to be possible to find information on all of them. I tried my best Google-Fu and came up short on information about this bar. If you have more information on this candy bar, please leave a comment. I do know that the Love Nest candy bar was made by The Euclid Candy Company of Cleveland, Ohio. I did find a great picture of a Love Nest advertisement on Flickr though!

Love Nest

Making History Monday: Fluffernutter by Boyer

A favorite treat at our house is a Fluffernutter sandwich. If you have a sugar addiction like mine, then you'll love the 2 pieces of bread (white bread - wonderbread works and tastes best) smothered in Marshmallow Fluff and Peanut Butter. It's hard to describe the taste but it's similar to eating a candy bar. You can also toast a Fluffernutter like a grilled cheese sandwich or add a banana to add something healthy.

Imagine my surprise while browsing the internet the other day I discovered that the Boyer company used to produce a Fluffernutter candy! This was a short time after the Boyer brothers retired and sold the company to American Maize. The Fluffernutter was a cup candy that was a combination of marshmallow and peanut butter coated in chocolate.

I've been known to make a Fluffernutter out of a Boyer Mallo Cup and a Peanut Butter Cup. It would be so much easier if Boyer brought back the Fluffernutter and put two great flavors into one cup! Stacking two cups on top of each other isn't the easiest way to eat candy but it sure does taste good.

Some of the other cups Boyer used to make include the S'Mores, Bunch O' Nuts!, Milk 'n Cookies, Smoothie and Minty Mallo. I wish they'd re-introduce some of these old favorites.

Making History Monday: Chocolate Covered Cherries

I hope everyone had a happy holiday season this year. We are back at home now, unpacking and winding down from visiting family. I was thinking of what to write about for this Monday history post and chocolate covered cherries immediately came to mind. Chocolate covered cherries have been a consistent gift at my family's Christmas celebration as far back as I can remember. We always wrap them for Dad. Then, he would open them, eat the first one and then pass them around the room for everyone else to enjoy. I can't say they are a favorite of mine, but I do enjoy all types of candy, so I'll usually end up eating a few.

I've had some time in the last few days to research a little bit about chocolate covered cherries. I can find 3 brands being sold at almost every store: Cella's, Brach's and Queen Anne. Cella's seems to be the oldest brand. Their boxes and webpage claim they started making chocolate covered cherries in 1864, with large scale production beginning in 1929. I could not find much information about the New York based Cella's Confections prior to their purchase by Tootsie Roll Industries in 1985. These chocolate covered cherries are easily recognizable because they are packaged in a single layer box, rather than a double layer like the other two brands. Cella's are also individually wrapped, rather than packaged egg-crate style with a single piece of cellophane over the plastic tray.

In the 1930's the Brock Candy Company started making chocolate covered cherries. They were an instant holiday hit across the United States. In 1994, the E. J. Brach Corporation bought a majority stake in the Brock Candy Company. I do not remember seeing Brock brand chocolate covered cherries, but the Brach's brand cherries have always been a favorite of my family. I had thought they quit producing these cherries in 2003 but they seem to have brought them back as this was the first year I've seen that brand for sale in our local stores. There's a lot of good information on the Brock Candy Company here, here and here. They were the first company to put candy in cellophane bags, which is an interesting bit of candy trivia.

In our area of the country, the most well known brand of chocolate covered cherries are made by Queen Anne. This is a company founded in 1921 on the south side of Chicago. They started making chocolate covered cherries in 1948. As their website points out, this quickly became their most successful product and they sell over three hundred million chocolate covered cherries in the United States each year. The Queen Anne company has changed hands a few times over the years, but has been owned by World's Finest Chocolate since 2006.

I do have these 3 brands of chocolate covered cherries purchased and will be doing a review very soon. I read that there are 5 large brands of chocolate covered cherry makers in the United States but I couldn't find the other 2 brands. If someone knows about the other two and could leave a comment below, that would be great!

Brock Candy Company in Chattanooga TN1952 photo of the Brock Candy Company in Chattanooga. Here chocolate covered cherries receive the bottom coat of chocolate.

Making History Monday: Peter Paul - PowerHouse candy bar wrapper - 1970's

Peter Paul Candies was started in 1919 by Peter Paul Halajian and 5 friends. The first candy bar they made was the Konabar, which was a coconut, fruits, nuts and chocolate bar. Peter Paul also made two other very popular bars with coconut, the Mounds bar and Almond Joy bar. In 1966 the Peter Paul candies company purchased the Walther H. Johnson Candy Company which was the original maker of the PowerHouse bar. The assumption is that this bar was launched in the late 1920s. This was a candy bar made of peanuts, fudge, and caramel, enrobed in chocolate. The early bars were $.05 and weighed a hefty 4 ounces! To put that in comparison, a King Size Snickers bar is 3.29 ounces. The bars were made into a smaller size at some point in the timeline but it had to be in the 1960s or 1970s. Peter Paul was purchased by Hershey in 1988. I'm not quite sure when the PowerHouse bar quit production but the current replacement would be a Baby Ruth bar. Lets hope Hershey brings this bar back at some point, it sounds fantastic!

Making History Monday

I would like to be a great place to read a wide range of information about candy. The main focus will be candy reviews but I'd like to add some variety to this site. I was thinking that each Monday I would try to write an historical article about candy, similar to the Chicken Dinner article I wrote on Thanksgiving Day.

Today is December 7 which is the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, an event that resulted in the United States' entry into World War II. One very important candy bar from World War II was the Hershey Field Ration D Bar or the Tropical Bar.

While reading the national bestselling book The Emperors of Chocolate by Joel Glen Brenner, I learned how World War II helped Hershey become a household name in the United States by supplying the military with the Ration D Bar. There are many important points to make about this candy bar. The Ration D Bar was the first candy bar to be sealed in cellophane to keep it fresh. It was the first candy bar to withstand heat up to 120 degrees F and pack in 600 calories per bar. This bar came in a 3 pack to provide the needed 1800 calories a soldier would need if nothing else was available. (This bar also went to the moon with the Apollo 15 astronauts.)

In 1942, when the United States entered the war against Germany and Japan, the military ordered Hershey to commence full-scale production of the new ration bar, and for the next four years the Hershey plant operated around the clock, seven days a week, churning out half a million Ration D bars per shift. At the time, the factory was considered the most modern chocolate manufacturing facility in the nation. The plant was so efficient it supplied nearly every candy company in the country--including Mars--with chocolate to manufacture candy bars (from The Emperors of Chocolate, page 9).

More Information on the Ration D Bar:
Wikipedia - Military Chocolate
Hershey Historical Archives Online

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'd like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving today. A long forgotten candy bar I wanted to revisit today is the Chicken Dinner candy bar made by Sperry Candy Co., of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It's only fitting that on a day when everyone is busy eating Turkey, we talk about a candy bar named the "Chicken Dinner". I'm taking this information from a great book I found on 'The Chocolate Chronicles' by Ray Broekel (Paperback)

Chicken Dinner was one of the early nut-roll bars and first came out in the early 1920s. The first Chicken Dinner wrappers pictured a whole roasted chicken sitting on a dinner plate. In the years following World War I, the economy made many families feel fortunate if they had one good meal a day on the dinner table. A whole roasted chicken on a candy bar wrapper symbolized something substantial in terms of food value.

To help promote Chicken Dinner, Sperry decorated a fleet of Model-A Ford trucks with eye-catching sheet-metal bodies built to resemble chickens. Eventually, the Sperry people learned that a chicken didn't convey a candy bar image, so the bird was dropped from the wrapper. The name, however, continued.

I love the internet and Flickr, I even found an old ad for the "Chicken Dinner" candy bar.

retro candy chicken dinner candy bar ad

Chicken Dinner Candy Bar photo by lemonysarah