The Sweet: 10 Candies Of The '70s You Ate Way Too Much Of
June 10, 2004 in Fairfield, California. The late former U.S. President Ronald Reagan was known for his fondness for jelly beans during his political career and claims the candy helped him quite smoking. (Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images)
Reese's Pieces, Pop Rocks, Jelly Bellies -- for kids prowling the candy aisle at the local 7-Eleven or Circle-K in the 1970s, there was a constant stream of new and delicious sugary stuff. All the better to rot those teeth right out of your head. So many of the candies we know and still love today came to us during the decade of Watergate and disco. Can you imagine life without a Twix bar, Bubble Yum or York Peppermint Pattie?
It was a fun time -- and then there was Fun Dip. It was dip, it was fun, it was both. It was sugar in crystalline powder form you eat by fishing it out of a pouch with a licked sticky stick of solidified sugar. Fun Dip was a process, an activity, an experience -- and yes, it would also rot your teeth out of your head.
Advances in food engineering were responsible for some of the new sugary goodies, but in all honesty, it was probably the 1971 movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory that helped to inspire candy makers to invent new and creative sweets. Here is a look at ten of the best candies that were introduced in the 1970s.
1976: Ring Pops
Topps, the company known for baseball cards, introduced their wearable candy ring pops in 1976. Affixed to a one-size-fits-all plastic ring is mounted a huge, over-sized “jewel” made of hard candy. According to company history, candy creator Frank Richards invented the ring pop as a way to stop his daughter from sucking her thumb, because, you know, a big chunk of sugar is a better alternative. Ring pops have become a fixture of fake marriage proposals ever since.
1975: Pop Rocks
When Pop Rocks were first introduced in 1975, they created a sensation, and we don’t just mean the one inside your mouth. The fizzing, sizzling candy tingled and exploded on your tongue in a way that no other food had ever done before. The idea for the crackling, fizzy treat was actually patented by two chemists from General Foods, named Leon T. Kremzner and William A. Mitchell. Pop Rocks reached the pinnacle of popularity when it became the subject of an urban legend. Rumors went viral -- in an age before the internet -- that eating Pop Rocks and drinking carbonated cola caused people’s stomachs to explode. In particular, child actor John Gilchrist, who played Mikey in the Life cereal commercials, was said to have died from eating Pop Rocks and drinking Coke, but those rumors were untrue. In fact, decades later, the TV show Mythbusters disproved the rumor that combining cola and Pop Rocks could be fatal.
1975: Bubble Yum
Speaking of urban legends, Bubble Yum Bubble Gum, which hit the market in 1975, was also the subject of false rumors and urban legends. Bubble Yum was the first soft bubble gum. It was created by an unknown housewife in Missouri and sold to the Life Saver Company’s St. Louis division. Bubble Yum was wildly popular until rumors started to swirl that the secret ingredient that made the gum so soft was spider eggs. The Life Saver Company sought to dispel the rumors by placing a full-page ad in the New York Times. The move helped. In a few years, sales of Bubble Yum passed the sales of Life Saver candies.
1975: York Peppermint Patties
York Peppermint Patties were not a new candy in the 1970s. In fact, they had been made and sold by the York Cone Company for more than fifty years, but they were only available regionally. In 1972, candy makers, Peter Paul, purchased the York Cone Company and prepared to launch York Peppermint Patties as a nationwide candy in 1975. The cool sensation -- and the unique round shape -- made these a different sort of candy bar that everyone wanted.
1976: Jelly Belly
Candy distributor David Klein developed a line of mini jelly beans in 1976 that were flavored with natural purees. He called his creation Jelly Belly, in part to honor his favorite blues musician, Lead Belly. Klein first began offering his Jelly Belly candies in one location only, an ice cream parlor in Alhambra, California, where he sold the candies as separate flavors instead of mixing them together in a variety pack. Jelly Belly jelly beans enjoyed a spike in popularity as the end of the seventies came, a popularity that was partially credited to President Ronald Reagan, a huge fan of the sweet treats.
1978: Reese's Pieces
It is hard to believe that it took the Hershey Company thirty-seven years to release a product similar to their trademark chocolate pellets, M&M’s that were introduced in 1941. But it did take until 1978 for the Hershey Company to transform its popular Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup into a chocolate-covered share-able treat, which it called Reese’s Pieces. Reese’s Pieces was moderately popular when it was first introduced, but it reached stellar heights thanks to the product placement in the 1982 blockbuster film E.T.the Extra-Terrestrial.
Twix bars, called Raider, were being made in the United Kingdom since 1967, but the candy bar didn’t make its way to America until 1979. That’s when Mars, Inc. acquired the recipe and renamed the candy a Twix bar, a portmanteau of “twin” and “sticks”. Two narrow biscuit sticks were topped with caramel and chocolate and packaged together. It may have gotten a slow start, but today, the Twix bars are sold around the world and consistently rank near the top of favorite candy bar lists.
1973: Fun Dip
The Willy Wonka Candy Company re-purposed a product that was popular among World War II soldiers and made it into Fun Dip. In the 1940s, the Fruzalo Company made Lik-M-Aid, but it was the creative geniuses of the Willy Wonka Candy Company that released Fun Dip in 1973 to a sugar-craving public. Essentially, just a pouch of colored, flavored sugar, the unique feature of Fun Dip was the edible sticks that were included in the packet. Called Lik-A-Stix, Fun Dip users were supposed to lick the stick to dampen it so that the powder would stick to it. After the powder was all gone, Fun Dip fans could look forward to eating the hard sugar sticks for an added boost to their sugar buzz.
1973: Charms Blow Pops
Candy and gum together in one treat! When Charms Blow Pops were first introduced in 1973, they marketed it as two treats in one. The creation of Charms Blow Pops is credited to Vince Ciccone, Walter Reid, and Ross Cameron who experimented with ways to encase a piece of chewing gum in hard candy. The result was a lollipop that became the signature product of the Charms Candy Company.
1972: Bottle Caps
A variation of SweeTarts, the Willy Wonka Candy Company released Bottle Caps in 1972. Like the SweeTarts, the Bottle Caps were a flavored, powdery, sugary mixture that was hard-pressed into round discs. The Bottle Caps, though, had scalloped edged to make them appear like their namesake. They also had a slight fizziness to them that was supposed to evoke the sensation of drinking carbonated soda. Later, the manufacturer added more fizz and released a newer product, Fizzy Bottle Caps.
Tags: 70s Kids | Blow Pops | Bottle Caps | Bubble Yum | Fun Dip | Jelly Belly | Pop Rocks | Popular Lists Of Everything From The Groovy Era | Reeses Pieces | Ring Pops | The 1970s | Twix | York
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