Courtesy Neatorama, another stroll through the graveyard of long-gone candy bars. These deceased treats were found in the research and Candy Bar Gazebo zine of, of course, Ray Broekel.

THE AIR MAIL BAR. Introduced in 1930 to honor the first airmail flight in the U.S. – in 1918, from Washington, D.C. to New York City. Ironically, the first flight never made it to New York. After takeoff, the pilot noticed someone had forgotten to fill the fuel tank. Then he got lost over Maryland and had to land in a cow pasture. The Air Mail candy bar had a similar fate.

FAT EMMA. In the early 1920s, the Pendergast Candy Company in Minneapolis introduced a candy bar with a nougat center. They planned to call it the Emma bar. But when it wound up twice as thick as expected (they accidentally put too much egg white in the mixture), they changed the name to Fat Emma. Later, Frank Mars copied the idea to create the Milky Way bar.

THE SAL-LE-DANDE BAR. The first candy bar named after a stripper – Sally Rand, whose “fan dance” at the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair shocked and titillated the nation. In the 1960s, another stripper bar was available briefly: the Gypsy bar, named after Gypsy Rose Lee.

The Red Grange Bar

THE RED GRANGE BAR. Endorsed by Red Grange, the most popular football player of his day. After starring at the University of Illinois, he joined the Chicago Bears in 1925 and helped keep the National Football League in business. Unfortunately, he couldn’t do the same for his candy bar.

THE VEGETABLE SANDWICH BAR. One of the weirdest “health” bar ever made, this 1920s vegetable concoction contained cabbage, celery, peppers, and tomatoes. Its makers claimed that it aided digestion and “will not constipate.”

THE ZEP CANDY BAR. “Sky-High Quality.” One of several candy bars that capitalized on the popularity of “lighter-than-air” dirigibles in the 1930s. This one featured a sketch of a Graf Zeppelin on the wrapper. It was taken off the market after the Hindenburg exploded in 1937.

THE CHICKEN DINNER BAR. One of the bestselling bars you’ve never heard of. It was introduced in the 1920s and remained on the market for about 50 years. The original wrapper featured a picture of a roasting chicken on a dinner plate – a bizarre way of suggesting it was a nourishing meal and encouraging customers to associate it with prosperity (“a chicken in every pot”). The manufacturer, Sperry Candy Co., even dispatched a fleet of Model A trucks disguised as giant sheet-metal chickens to deliver the candy to stores. Several years after the bar’s debut, Sperry dropped the chicken from the wrapper. But it kept the name.

THE BIG-HEARTED “AL” BAR. George Williamson, owner of the Williamson Candy Company, was a good Democrat and a good friend of New York governor Al Smith, Democratic nominee for president in 1928. Smith lost in a landslide to Herbert Hoover, and his candy bar soon followed.

Seven Up

THE SEVEN UP CANDY BAR. Got its name from having seven connected pieces, each with a different center. The bar came out in the 1930s, before the 7-Up Bottling Company began production of its soft drink – so the Trudeau Candy Company owned the trademark rights to the name. Eventually the 7-Up Bottling Company bought the bar and retired it, so they had exclusive use of the name no matter how it was spelled – Seven Up or 7-Up.

THE “IT” BAR. The #1 female sex symbol of the silent movie era was Clara Bow – known as the “It Girl.” (She had that special quality her movie studio called “It.”) In 1927 the McDonald Candy Company of Salt Lake City tried cashing in on her popularity with a candy bar featuring her face on the wrapper. It did well for a few years, then disappeared along with Bow. (She wasn’t able to make the switch to talkies, because although she was lovely to look at, her Brooklyn accent made her impossible to listen to.)

Also Gone: The Betsy Ross bar, the Lindy (for Charles Lindbergh), Amos ‘n’ Andy, Poor Prune, Vita Sert, and Doctor’s Orders.

Spotlight: Chicken Dinner

September 23, 2008

Back in the 1920s, Milwaukee’s Sperry Candy Company gave the world its weirdest treat of all: the Chicken Dinner. Read the rest of this entry »

Darrens 246th Daily Painting

Darren's 246th Daily Painting

Sioux City, Iowa artist Darren Maurer has set about presenting a painting a day, posting the results on his blog and offering them for sale. Most paintings feature deliciously rendered foods, but this commissioned Abba Zaba painting particularly caught my eye. (Actually, it came up in a Google search.)

Darren says he’d never heard of or seen an Abba Zaba before–poor guy–but the painting came out a striking and faithful rendition of that classic checkered Annabelle favorite.

To check out more of Darren’s paintings and maybe purchase or commission one of your own, visit www.darrenmaurer.com.

Matzel Toff! Chewish Fun

September 11, 2008

Click here to check out NY1’s piece on Matzel Toff!, a delicious twist on a timeless staple of Jewish life.

More people should start up such wonderful small businesses, if for no other reason than to tickle our funny bones with more hilariously heavy-handed puns.

As promised, the remainder of Ray Broekel’s 1986 American Heritage article. Read the rest of this entry »

Sweet Greetings!

September 4, 2008

Just a quick post to say hello and let any potential readers know what I’m up to here.

Candies, confections, treats… Novelties and sweets, chips, snacks and munchies… In our modern age of mass consumption and sensory gratification, it’s easy to decry our base impulses, particularly when the majority of them drive us to gobble up a boggling variety of nutritionally vacant, ultra-processed foodstuffs. In lieu of vigorous exercise or inner reflection, we too commonly seek comfort in the multi-hued gluttony of candy temptresses. It figures largely, no doubt, in our booming rates of obesity and other determinants of poor health. Sugary and salty snacks, much like television, temporarily distract us from the larger scope of the world around us, but ultimately we come crashing back down and feel we have no option but to seek that cheap euphoria again.

But…! But…they’re so gooooooood! A little flirtation with caramel or bright orange cheese now and then adds a cheery escapist fling to hum-drum days and late-night insomnia. The tastes and textures toy with our tummies so terrifically! Like surrendering to the strains of a touching melody or giggling at an improbably tiny toy dog, treats lift our spirits and add dimension to the human experience. When engaged with conscious effort free of distraction, all five senses come to life and the mind does little backflips of glee. A candy bar can be as stimulating to the primary hunger impulse as pot roast or fresh-baked bread.

Junk food: Stuff we shovel hand over fist which has practically no nutritive value whatsoever. I use the term with affection but wariness. I don’t intend to promote excessive consumption of junk over much more responsible choices like fruit and veggies. What I’m promoting is responsible consumption (i.e., in small doses and not as a replacement for a wholesome meal) of foods engineering to entertain and add a bit of levity to daily life.

And so I’ve started this blog to indulge my curiosity of and appreciation for the foods that delight and amuse. It’s all on the table, and I can scarcely pick a direction before wanting to dart off in another. I’m no junk food junkie, but I’m easily overwhelmed by the staggering volume of products we Americans have developed to satiate our hunger and desire for expression. So many niches are packed chock-a-block with countless opportunities to becalm every taste bud several times over. At a determined pace, I hope to explore this bright, shiny world. From the ubiquitous candy bars and chips, to regional specialties, to even alcoholic beverages and other tasty things mom would frown on, I’m casting my eyes all about for fun, fantastic food fodder. I’ll try tossing in a good measure of confectionary history, news, trivia and nostalgia, too.

I hope you’ll pick up on the Confectionarium and join me in my search for the absurd, the sublime and the timeless treats that ravage diets with utter abandon.