Halloween is one of our most fascinating holidays.
From spooky ghost stories to scary movies, this holiday is a favorite for many. Trick-or-treating is a very important tradition, and what’s the best part? The candy! Here is a list of your favorite classic Halloween candy and their sweet and spooky histories!
Apples have been an important and mystical part of Halloween from as far back as 400 B.C. They were used as offerings to the spirits who inhabited the earth during the tradition of Samhain, now known as Halloween. (Click here for the full history of Halloween!) Bobbing for apples is also a surprisingly ancient tradition with specific purposes. Apples and water were both considered ways to connect to the fairy kingdom, so bobbing for apples was believed to be a way to meet a fairy. Another tradition was for women to carve their initials into apples, so when the men would bob for apples, the initials on the apple he selected would be for the woman that he was destined to marry.
According to legend, if you leave an apple, it’s peel, or pip under your pillow, your romantic future will permeate into your dreams. And, up until the last century, kids in Canada would shout, “Halloween apples!” instead of “trick-or-treat when going door to door, and would be rewarded with a fresh, juicy apple. In 1908. William M. Kolb, a candy maker, was the first person to candy an apple. This new Halloween candy was immediately welcomed into Halloween tradition.
This Halloween candy staple has been around for over a century. Candy Corn was invented by George Renninger in the 1880s, who worked for Wunderle Candy Company. Its original name was Chicken Feed because, although one of its main ingredients is corn syrup, people pre-World War I did not consider corn to be a food for civilized society. (Obviously, this mentality has changed – who doesn’t love corn?) The flavor was meant to resemble that of honey, sugar, butter, and vanilla.
Candy Corn really rose to prominence in the candy community in 1898 after being picked up by Goelitz Candy Company, now Jelly Belly. It started out as a year-round treat, but it wasn’t long before the candy company capitalized on the every-popularizing candy-centered tradition of trick-or-treating. The National Confectioners Association believes that Americans consume 35 million pounds of candy corn every year, despite its polarizing presence. So, what’s your stance on this waxy, ultra-sweet treat?
Smarties is one of the true family-owned companies, originating in 1949 in Bloomfield, New Jersey. After World War II, the Dee family purchased pellet machines and decided to transform them into candy machines, giving these popular candies their signature shape. The company is still owned and operated by three generations of Dees. Today, they are produced in that same factory as well as In Toronto, Canada. It is estimated that both factories produce approximately 2 billion Smarties rolls per year. These iconic candy wafers can be found anywhere throughout the country as they are often a great allergen friendly alternative. Also, did you know that each color signifies a different flavor? Here are the different flavors of Smarties candies:
Green: strawberry (what??)
White: orange cream
Bubblegum has an interesting origin story. However, it was not the first iteration of gum to be invented. Gum dates as far back as the ancient Greeks, who used to chew resin from mastic trees. Northern Europeans chewed birch bark, Mayans and Aztecs chewed chicle from sapodilla trees, and North American indiginous people chewed resin from spruce trees. Many people after the mid-1850s experimented with chicle and other ingredients to create the perfect chewing gum, but it wasn’t until Wrigley stepped in that it turned into what it is today. They were the first to add flavors like spearmint and Juicy Fruit.
Then, in 1928, 23-year-old Walter Diemer, who worked for a chewing gum factory, was the first person to successfully put the bubbles in gum. He experimented with different recipes until he invented a gum that was less sticky, but more elastic. Then, every inventors greatest fear happened: he lost the recipe, and it took him four months to recreate his invention! The gum has a grey color, so he knew he had to change the color to make it more marketable. Pink was the only color available at the time, so that’s how we got that classic tone!
Gumdrop candies were invented in 1945 as a sort of grandchild to black licorice, Black Crows. Black crows, though they have evolved into a rather controversial flavor, were very popular back in the day, and gave rise to Dots’ classic shape. In 1972, Tootsie Roll Industries bought Dots, and continues to market them to this day. Although other two other special flavors have emerged, sour and tropical, the original Dots flavors are still the most popular: cherry, strawberry, orange, lemon and lime. Each year, an estimated 4 billion DOTS are made from their Chicago factory. They are the perfect movie candy, so, next time you put on your favorite Halloween classic, grab a box of these Halloween candy classics!
The very first individually-wrapped candy is the retro Tootsie Roll. In the late 1800s, chocolates were difficult to sell because they would melt so easily. Leo Hirschfield, an Austrian immigrant, came up with a solution for this problem by inventing the Tootsie Roll. He sold it for one cent in Brooklyn.
By 1905, he had patented his invention and was delivering it by horse and buggy. These durable, individually-wrapped candies solved the sticky problem of melting chocolate, while still curing a hankering for that chocolatey taste. In addition to being a staple candy for trick-or-treaters, it was also a popular snack for soldiers in World War II, saved the lives of many soldiers during the Korean war by serving both as food and as a kind of putty to fix holes, and was a favorite candy of both Frank Sinatra and Jackie Kennedy. So, if you’re a Tootsie Roll lover, you’re in good company!
Nik-L-Nips, aka Wax Candies
Is there any more vintage Halloween candy than the classic wax soda bottles? In 1859, the oil industry emerged, and a byproduct of kerosene distillation proved itself to be a very useful substance: paraffin. It became sealing wax, candles, crayons, and even chewing gum. Glenn Confections, a subdivision of one of the biggest candy companies, W&F, producing its wax candies. They used food-grade paraffin to develop some of the most creative candies ever seen. They would mold the wax into the shape of lips, cars, mustaches, harmonicas, and more. The most popular design was probably the wax bottles. They were all filled with a sugar-filled juice, which made for a fun and chewy candy experience. The name Nik-L-Nips came from the fact that they cost a nickel, and you nip the top off to get to the candy. Anyone had one of these recently?
Lollipops are a treat that have been around in some form or another literally since the start of humanity. Cavemen used to take sticks and coat them in honey from beehives, serving as the first lollipops. As humans got more sophisticated, ancient cultures like the Egyptians and Chinese would candy fruit and nuts and poke sticks in them. In the Civil War era, they had probably the most hazardous version of lollipops, where they would stick candies on top of pencils and give them to children.
However, the first form of lollipop that we would be familiar with are what the English invented in the 17th century. Sugar was becoming much more bounteous at the time, and they would boil it into soft candies on sticks. They called the treats ‘lolly pops’, which, translated, means ‘tongue slaps’. In 1905, the way candies were made was by heating them up into a liquid and stirring them with a stick. The owner of the McAviney Candy Company had an epiphany as he was stirring his own candy, and brought the candy-coated sticks home for his kids. Soon after, he was selling these inventions.
From there, lollipops got more and more refined, with the Racine Confectionary Machine Company inventing a machine that stuck hard candies on sticks at a very fast rate, and then Samuel Born inventing another machine that effectively impaled hard candies with sticks. In 1912, candy maker George Smith came up with what we know as the modern lollipop, following in the footsteps of the many candy makers that came before him. Now, it’s hard to imagine trick-or-treating without receiving this classic Halloween candy!
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My name is Andrea and I live in Los Angeles, California. By day, I am an actor and by night I am working towards a degree in nutritional science.