Classic Candy

by Darlene Lacey

9780747812432/$9.95/Trade paperback/Shire Publications  

A sweet, nostalgic look back at the fascinating history of candy from the founder of the world's first candy wrapper museum!

Halloween is the perfect excuse to feed our sweet tooth and, thanks to a new book, Classic Candy, it's a time to nostalgically look back at the treats and trends from yesteryear. Loved by kids for their delicious goodness, many of the classic candy treats also perfectly tapped into the popular culture of their day and had brilliant product designs that stay in our memories.

Click to view video of author Darlene Lacey
Author Darlene Lacey founded the Candy Wrapper Museum in Los Angeles as a place to show the collection she began as a personal hobby in 1975. She made the collection public and wrote the book Classic Candy because she believes the visuals and stories represent much more than candy memories: "Wrappers have entertainment value; there's a lot of comedy in the collection. But they also have artistic qualities in the design and they reflect our society. You can see trends of the way we lived."

Highlights from the incredible story of Classic Candy.

Some of the most beloved candy often broke new ground in creativity and marketing genius:
    1970s Wacky Packages
  • Weird packaging and off-the-wall concepts were among the most successful candy fads. Wacky Packages had candy gum along with stickers that satirized consumer goods. Big Tooth and Chu-Bops were among the most creative and innovative packages for bubble gum- one a giant tooth worn as a necklace and the other mini record album sleeves of actual artists of the day like the Rolling Stones and Pat Benatar.
  • Celebrity candy often had strange endorsements: Mr. T's Gold Chain bubble gum, Ozzie and Harriet Almond Joy, The Fonz from Happy Days candy, and a box of candy that featured contestants from The Gong Show
The innovators and companies that created the classic traditional candy bars still popular today date back nearly a century:
  • In 1923 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups were introduced as the creation of former Hershey employee, Harry B. Reese who was given permission by Milton Hershey to use Hershey's chocolate in his brilliant confection.
  • Frank C. Mars suffered numerous business setbacks until his breakthrough Milky Way bar which became the #1 candy bar in America in the 1920s and was followed by Snickers in 1930 and 3 Musketeers in 1932.
  • The Baby Ruth bar was flourishing when released in 1921 and although the public associated it with baseball slugger Babe Ruth, Chicago's Curtiss Candy Company maintained it was named after President Grover Cleveland's daughter and therefore paid no royalties to Babe Ruth or his estate.

Candy conventions changed with the social change of the 20th century:
  • One of the most popular and notorious fads in the '50s and '60s was bubble gum and chocolate candy cigarettes which featured very realistic packaging with powdery "puffs" that mimicked real smoking.
  • Up until the 1960s some manufacturers produced candy with highly objectionable names like  Chocolate Babies, Fu Man Chews, Peppermint Coolies and Pickaninny Peppermints.
  • In 1968 the R.L. Albert Company introduced a candy of small chocolate balls loaded in a toy syringe that could be sipped through the syringe's needle. The candy came with groovy slogans such as "I'll Try Anything" until outraged parents successfully lobbied the manufacturer to remove the candy from shelves.

About the Author:
Darlene Lacey is the author of Classic Candy and the founder of the Candy Wrapper Museum in Los Angeles. She became something of a trendsetter in candy wrappers as collectibles, as one of the first to collect and publicly trade candy wrappers, The book and museum have created new candy wrapper and design enthusiasts and demand has pushed auction prices to a record $1500! Of her passion for collecting candy wrappers and teaching about the history of candy she explains, "There's such an imaginative world of candy- crazy and cute little ideas. I'm careful with what I curate. I just love what I buy and try to preserve it."  Visit her museum website at: .

About the book:
Classic Candy
Darlene Lacey

9780747812432/$9.95/Trade Paperback/Shire Publications

Table of Contents:
Classic Chocolate
Classic Sweets
Trends and Fads
Classic Holidays
Further Reading
Places to Visit

All photos credit: Joe Lacey from Classic Candy, Shire Publications

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Shire is distributed in North America by Random House


  1. Such a great book. Well written and very entertaining.

  2. I simply loved this book! What a great nostalgic visit back to my childhood and perusing the candy counter at the dime store. Hope to hear more from this author.