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Candy History

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Although it would be impossible to present an exact history, this timeline illustrates the development of the American candy industry from the 1800’s onward. As you will see, many retro candies and their founding companies have come and gone, but it is interesting to note that 65 percent of American candy bars have been around for more than 60 years. We hope you enjoy the journey!


1847  Oliver Chase invents a machine for cutting lozenges and, hence, the fabled Necco Wafer is born.

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 & George Cadbury, the second generation of Cadburys, 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 Hallween 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

1894 Legend has it is this is the year of the opening of the world famous Jackson Candy & Fudge Factory.

1896  Leo Hirshfield, New York confectioner, introduces Tootsie Rolls, named after his daughter’s nickname, “Tootsie.” Learn more about this longtime favorite here.

1890  Legend has it that an unnamed  Southern lady was making taffy but added the wrong ingredient resulting in the first batch of Peanut Brittle

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


1900  A very important year as Milton Hershey introduces a variation of what will eventually become the  Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar.

1900  Clark Gum Company introduces Teaberry Gum.  Find out what flavor it tastes like and the dance craze it inspired here.

1901  The King Leo pure peppermint stick candy is developed

1901  Multicolored candy disks called NECCO Wafers first appear. The name stands for New England Confectionery Company

1902  New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) makes the first Conversation Hearts which are still a thriving Valentine’s 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, sadly, discontinued in the late 1980’s, but resurrected in the 1990’s

1905  Flush with the success of their Conversation Hearts, New England Confectionary Company introduces another classic peanut butter candy called Peach Blossoms

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

1906 The American Chicle Company introduces Chiclets, the candy coated gum that uses chicle inside.  To learn what exactly is chicle and where it comes from, click here.

1907  After the great success of the Milk Chocolate Bar, Hershey introduces the beloved Hershey’s Kisses. The original Hershey’s Kiss were called Silvertops and sold as individual units (this first incarnation was discontinued in 1931)

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

1908  Theodor Tobler and his cousin Emil Baumann invent a delicious Swiss Milk Chocolate and Honey and Nougat infused candy bar called Toblerone.


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, which will become a Southern favorite, is introduced, the first candy bar to combine milk chocolate, marshmallow, caramel, and peanuts

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

1914  Mary Janes are created by Charles N. Miller in Boston, MA.  Learn more about this nostalgic classic here.

1916 George DeMet introduces the Turtle, a chocolate covered caramel and nut candy that strikes a resemblance to a real turtle.  Discover more about this creamy classic here.

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). The company sells and is renamed Just Born in 2003.  Unwrap more about their facinating history here!


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

1920  Williamson Candy Co., introduces the O’Henry! bar

1920  Hollywood Brands introduced a white fudge candy bar called Double Zero Bar.  The formula remained the same but in 1934, the name was changed to Zero Bar

1920  Henry Heidi creates Jujyfruits which became an instant movie favorite.  The chewy candy also made a cameo with Elaine from the hit show Seinfeld.

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

1922  Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, made in Philadelphia, PA, are introduced and soon take on a cult status with East Coast candy aficionados

1922  A West Coast company called Colby & McDermott introduce a taffy and peanut butter candy bar called the Zero Bar

1922  The Fox Cross Candy Company creates the Charleston Chew which was inspired by the swinging Charleston dance.

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  A unique non-chocolate candy bar, with a sweet taste and taffy consistency , called Bit O Honey is introduced by the Schutter Johnson company of Chicago.

1924  Akron Candy Company creates Dum Dums lollipops.  Discover more about this easy to say treat here.

1924  Fair Play Caramel Company introduces Kits and BB Bats Taffy. The brand has been sold to 6 manufacturers over the years but are 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

1926  Squirrel Nut Zippers are introduced by Squirrel Brand.  Find out it’s connections to Prohibition and a punk rock band here!

1927  McKeesport Candy Co. was established. Although not as important as the introduction of a new candy bar, we couldn’t resist including ourselves as we are one of the oldest wholesale candy companies in the nation!

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

1928  Heath Bars appear, the first chocolate-covered toffee bars. These were originally only offered for home delivery since they were sold by a dairy salesman

1928  Admiral Richard Byrd begins his legendary Antartica expedition equipped with 2.5 tons of Necco Wafers

1928  An important year for any candy lover as the beloved Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are first marketed. They are still one of the best-selling candy bars of all time


1930  M&M Mars introduces the Snickers Bar, named after the Mars family’s beloved horse, and it is still one of the best-selling candy bars ever.  Lean more about this famous bar here.

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 1990’s (but the formula never changed)

1932  Charles Howard creates Violet Mints in a New York industrial loft. The product was first sold on New York street corners and the company later changed its name to  C.Howards Company

1932  Ferrara Pan Candy Company, located in Chicago, introduces Red Hots.  Find out more about this hot candy here.

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

1932  Pierre Van Melle develops Peppermint Mentos in the Netherlands. It was until 1973 that new flavors were added.

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” Marshmallow Cones

1938  Hershey introduces a candy bar that combines milk chocolate with Rice Krispies, called the Krackel Bar consisting of Almonds and Crisped Rice. In 1943, due to wartime food rationing, it was changed to an all rice formula

1938 Necco releases the Sky Bar, the first candy bar with four separate sections.  Learn more about this revolutionary candy confection here!

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


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 hands). 59 years later, M&M Mars shortened the name to M&M’s

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

1945 The Mason Company introduces Dots in strawberry, cherry, orange, lime and lemon flavors.

1947  Peter Paul introduces Mounds

1947  Topps Candy Company introduces Bazooka Bubble Gum. This iconic Amercian confection would endure for 65 years until it was discontinued in 2012

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

1949  Junior Mints are introduced

1949  Smarties candy roll wafers are introduced, often called “candy pills.”  Become smarter on Smarties with our history page here!

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.  Learn more about it’s great history here.


1950   Sam Altshuler creates The Annabelle Candy Company, named for his daughter. His first product is the Rocky Road Candy Bar.  Discover more historical facts here!

1954   Just Born introduces Marshmallow Peeps in the shape of Easter chicks.  Learn more about how Peeps were born here

1950   Bobs Candy Canes are introduced, sold under the Cris Cringle brand

1952   Sunline Inc. introduces a powdery candy called Pixy Stix that was a precursor to powder candies such as Fun Dip.

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


1960  Looking to create a healthy candy, M&M Mars introduces Starburst 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

1962  The Phoenix Candy Company, ironically located in Brooklyn, New York,  introduces a taffy and encourages consumers to “enjoy a piece now and save a few for later” aptly naming the product Now & Later

1963  Cadbury Brothers introduce a filled chocolate egg called Fry Creme Eggs. In 1971, the name as changed to Cadbury Creme Eggs and an Easter classic was officially born.

1963  Sweetarts hit the market

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

1966  Fleer introduces Razzles, “First it’s a candy, then it’s a gum!”  Get dazzled by this innovative candy’s history here.

1966  The Campbell Soup Company acquires the Belgian Choclatier Godiva

1966  100 Grand candy bar is created.  Find out how it was used in some mischivious pranks here.

1968  Zotz are introduced, one of the first “sour fizzy” candies


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

1991  Nestle introduces Laffy Taffy, the taffy with a joke inside every package.  Learn more about the hilarious history here.

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

1974  General Mills introduces a truly revolutionary new product called Pop Rocks. This lead to a rumor that swept the nation. Curious? Learn more

1974  Chuckles jelly candy sponsors daredevil Evil Kneivel.  Discover more about this unlikely partnership here.

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

1979  Frank Richards invents everyone’s favorite lickable jewelry, the Ring Pop.


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

1980  Rob Nelson and Jim Bouton create Big League Chew, America’s favorite shredded bubble gum.  Learn more about it’s fantastic history here!

1981  M&M’s, or as Nasa deemed them “candy-coated chocolates”, take a journey to the solar system aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia

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

1982  Van Halen introduces the infamous “Brown M&M’s Rider” into their concert contract, banning Brown M&M’s from their dressing room.  Find out why they did it here

1983  Albanese Candy  is founded with the aim of producing the world’s best gummi products.

1983  Angelo Fraggos invents Nerds, the crunchy little candy with a mysterious name.  Learn more about Nerd history here.

1985  Sour Patch Kids migrate to the United States. Frank Galatolie invented them in the 1970’s but they were only avalable for purchase in Canada.  They were originally called Mars Men.

1988  Hershey’s Chocolate Company is renamed Hershey Chocolate USA

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


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 favorite 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

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