Hot Week: Digging Hot Tamales Through the Decades!

CC_Hot Week Hot Tamales TITLE PLATEFor the final day of Cinnamon Hot Week, I wanted to dig deep into a brand that has always been a favorite of mine, Just Born’s Hot Tamales!

This will be the final post in our week-long coverage of all things “hot” and it’s also going to be the biggest post of the week – with over 50 different Hot Tamales packages presented.  Whew!

I first looked at Hot Tamales with a short retrospective and timeline during the first few days of this site, but since then I’ve discovered a lot of new things about the brand’s history, and a few new things have developed as well that I’d like to cover.

According to the Just Born website, Hot Tamales were introduced to the market in 1950.  Without that piece of information, my best guess would have been that these were an early 60’s creation as Just Born first filed for the trademark on Hot Tamales in 1962.  By that time, Hot Tamales boxes already featured their famous mascot, the Hot Tamales Kid.

Earlier this year I was thrilled to add an early 1960’s box to my collection and it differentiates itself from later boxes in that the “flavor” part of the description is printed in green.  It is as close to a “rookie box” for Hot Tamales as I’ve ever come across:

Just Born - Hot Tamales - 1 3/8 oz candy box - early 60's

Just Born – Hot Tamales – 1 3/8 oz candy box – early 60’s

By 1968, the box design would change and the green text would be dropped, as seen in this candy trade advertisement:

Just Born - Best Sellers Year Round - Candy Trade Ad_August 1968

Just Born – Best Sellers Year Round – Candy Trade Ad – August 1968

In the later 1960’s, a 15-cent long box would be introduced.  This “long box” style is the one I most identify with the Hot Tamales from my childhood.

Just Born - Hot Tamales - 15-cent candy box - late  60's early 70's

Just Born – Hot Tamales – 15-cent candy box – late 60’s early 70’s

In 1971 Just Born launched a popular promotion that would run at least through 1974, with their Hot Tamales Kid plush mail-away offer.

Just Born - Meet the Hot Tamales Kid -  candy  trade advertisement - 1971

Just Born – Meet the Hot Tamales Kid – candy trade advertisement – 1971

As I said, this promotion would last at least into 1974 as seen in this consumer magazine advertisement:

Just Born - Hot Tamales Kid ad - American Girl magazine, page 41 - February 1974

Just Born – Hot Tamales Kid ad – American Girl magazine, page 41 – February 1974

I’m fortunate to have a box featuring this promotion.  It’s one of the first pieces I added to my collection and remains a favorite of mine due to the promotion’s inclusion.  [Note: A fun bit of trivia is that this box was originally found underneath the floorboards of a closed-down movie theater.]

Just Born - Hot Tamales - Hot Tamale Kid mail away offer - candy box 1973

Just Born – Hot Tamales – Hot Tamale Kid mail away offer – 15-cent candy box 1973

I also have the premium from the promotion – here’s a photo of my Hot Tamales Kid:

Hot Tamales Kid Just Born mail-away doll - Front and Back - 1970's

Hot Tamales Kid Just Born mail-away doll – Front and Back – 1970’s

By 1976, the Hot Tamales box design still looked much as it did in the early 1960’s, though the “cinnamon” in the title was now emphasized and the “artificially flavored” was added as well:

Just Born - Hot Tamales - 1 5/8 oz candy box - 1976

Just Born – Hot Tamales – 1 5/8 oz candy box – 1976

1977 was notable for Hot Tamales packages and marketing as they would introduce a large (at the time) 9-ounce size box that year:

Just Born - Nine-Ounce Hot Tamales - magazine snippet -  October 1977

Just Born – Nine-Ounce Hot Tamales – magazine snippet – October 1977

Beyond being sold in boxes, Just Born also marketed Hot Tamales to the vending trade.  Here’s a super-cool vending machine insert card for the brand [Note: You can read all about Just Born’s vending machine insert cards here.]:

Just Born - Hot Tamales - Zingy - candy vending machine insert card - 1970's

Just Born – Hot Tamales – Zingy – candy vending machine insert card – 1970’s

Something that I consider a “sort-of” spin-off of Hot Tamales was introduced in 1979 in the form of Just Born’s Cinnamon Apple – seen in this trade ad [Note: I first wrote about my discovery of these last year.]Just Born - Hot Line to Bigger Profits - candy trade ad - December 1979

Just Born – Hot Line to Bigger Profits – candy trade ad – December 1979

In 1979, Just Born gave their packaging lineup a refresh, eliminating tabbed boxes and introducing a diagonal logo look:

Just Born - Hot Tamales - 1 5/8 oz candy box - 1979

Just Born – Hot Tamales – 1 5/8 oz candy box – 1979

The diagonal logo style box was featured in this set of scratch-n-sniff stickers from Hallmark in 1980:

Hot Tamales - Hallmark Silly Stickers Front and back - 1980

Hot Tamales – Hallmark Silly Stickers Front and back – 1980

This style of Hot Tamales box design would carry through to 1986, before it was discontinued.  By then, the 2.12 box size had been established, a size which became the standard for the next two decades.

Just Born - Hot Tamales - 2.12 oz candy box - 1986

Just Born – Hot Tamales – 2.12 oz candy box – 1986

The following year in 1987, Just Born gave their line it’s biggest redesign in the history of the company.  They announced the change to the trade with the following ad:

Just Born - Jolly Joes, Mike and Ike, Hot Tamales ad - 1987

Just Born – Jolly Joes, Mike and Ike, Hot Tamales ad – 1987

Here’s an example of the first Hot Tamales box to feature the 1987 design:

Just Born - Hot Tamales - 2.12 oz candy box - 1988

Just Born – Hot Tamales – 2.12 oz candy box – 1988

As the Just Born line expanded, the backs of Hot Tamales boxes reflected the changes:

Just Born - Hot Tamales - 2_12 oz candy box - Cherri Bubb back - 1989-1990

Just Born – Hot Tamales – 2_12 oz candy box – Cherri Bubb back – 1989-1990

And in the mid-1990’s, boxes added mandatory nutrition labeling:

Just Born - Hot Tamales - 2.12 oz candy box - mid-1990's

Just Born – Hot Tamales – 2.12 oz candy box – mid-1990’s

The early 1990’s brought the first official Hot Tamales spin-off I know of in the form of Super Hot Tamales, which were first released in 1993:

Just Born - Super Hot Tamales - 2.12 oz candy box - NEW - early 1990's

Just Born – Super Hot Tamales – 2.12 oz candy box – NEW! – 1993

Here’s a trade ad promoting Super Hot Tamales.  I have vivid memories of when these were new and excitedly trying them – I was a big fan of Hot Tamales then, too.

Just Born - Super Hot Tamales - Hot Tamales - candy trade ad - January 1995

Just Born – Super Hot Tamales – Hot Tamales – candy trade ad – January 1995

Two fun promotions that I know of ran on Hot Tamales boxes in the 1990’s:

Just Born - Hot Tamales - Spider-Man Instant Win game - candy box - 1996

Just Born – Hot Tamales – Spider-Man Instant Win game – candy box – 1996

I chuckle every time I see that Spider-Man box, as this was during my years working as an editor at Marvel Comics.  I had friends in creative services and licensing and I remember seeing art and other materials for this promotion around their offices.  At the time I wasn’t paying much attention to candy, though.

Just Born - Hot Tamales - Schwinn BMX Bike Instant Win Game - candy box - 1997

Just Born – Hot Tamales – Schwinn BMX Bike Instant Win Game – candy box – 1997

The next piece I have to share was a giant discovery for me earlier this year, and though I don’t have a box example in my collection, I was thrilled to get the following image from the US Trademark Office archives.  This is for a product Just Born released briefly in the late 1990’s called Hot Tamales Jr’s.

Not just Hot Tamales sold in a smaller box, these were actually half-height Hot Tamales candies.  I would love to add one of these boxes to my collection!

Just Born - Hot Tamales Jr's - 1_65 oz candy box - 1998-1999_USTO Archives

Just Born – Hot Tamales Jr’s – 1_65 oz candy box – 1998-1999 – Source USTO Archives

Right around the year 2000, Just Born would once again give their Hot Tamales packages a design refresh:

JustBorn - Hot Tamales - choice of Nascar - 2.12 oz candy box - 2003

JustBorn – Hot Tamales – choice of Nascar – 2.12 oz candy box – 2003

Super Hot Tamales also got a facelift, with an appearance perhaps a little more inline with the standard box:

JustBorn - Super Hot Tamales - 25-cent candy box - 2003

JustBorn – Super Hot Tamales – 25-cent candy box – 2003

Just Born’s marketing to the vending trade continued throughout the years and I have a vending insert card from this era as well:

Just Born - Hot Tamales - vending insert card - late 1990's early 2000's

Just Born – Hot Tamales – vending insert card – early 2000’s

The early 2000’s marked Just Born’s partnering up with Nascar and the team of Kerry Earnhardt.  Just Born celebrated the partnership with at least two different special Hot Tamales candy boxes:

JustBorn - Hot Tamales Kerry Earnhardt limited edition box - 2003

JustBorn – Hot Tamales Kerry Earnhardt limited edition box – 2003

Just Born - Super Hot Tamales - Kerry Earnhardt Winston Cup - candy box - 2003

Just Born – Super Hot Tamales – Kerry Earnhardt Winston Cup – candy box – 2003

In 2005-2006, the next major redesign of Just Born’s product line was introduced with Hot Tamales getting their new fireball mascot.  Another major change for the line was the retirement of the 2.12 ounce cardboard box in favor of a 2.12 ounce plastic package:

JustBorn - Hot Tamales Now With More Kick bag - 2006

JustBorn – Hot Tamales Now With More Kick bag – 2006

Over the course of the next few years, the plastic packaged Hot Tamales would receive subtle updates while still retaining that 2.12 oz pack size standard:

JustBorn - Hot Tamales Get Fired Up bag - 2007

JustBorn – Hot Tamales Get Fired Up bag – 2007

Just Born - Hot Tamales - 2.12 oz candy package - 2012

Just Born – Hot Tamales – 2.12 oz candy package – 2012

One of my favorite promos from this era is also represented by one of the very first contemporary candy packages I ever saved – this 2006 Hold’em pack:

JustBorn - Hot Tamales Play Holdem Poker bag - 2006

JustBorn – Hot Tamales Play Holdem Poker bag – 2006

In 2006, Super Hot Tamales would be reintroduced and rebranded under the new name Hot Tamales Fire:

Just Born - Hot Tamales Fire - NEW - 2.12 oz candy package - 2006

Just Born – Hot Tamales Fire – NEW – 2.12 oz candy package – 2006

Hot Tamales Fire packs soon dropped the “New!” indications:

JustBorn - Hot Tamales Fire Get Fired Up bag - 2006

JustBorn – Hot Tamales Fire Get Fired Up bag – 2006

Just Born - Hot Tamales Fire - 6oz candy box - 2008

Just Born – Hot Tamales Fire – 6oz candy box – 2008

Quick on the heels of the Just Born line wide redesign, 2007 saw the release a dramatic spin-off for Hot Tamales; Hot Tamales Ice:

Just Born - Hot Tamales ICE - NEW! - 6 oz candy box - 2007

Just Born – Hot Tamales ICE – NEW! – 6 oz candy box – 2007

While Hot Tamales Ice was a bold departure for the brand, it unfortunately didn’t catch on.

2007 Hot Tamales boxes featured a “Spring Break Trip” promotion:

JustBorn - Hot Tamales Spring Break Trip box - 2007

JustBorn – Hot Tamales Spring Break Trip box – 2007

The Hot Tamales brand had been successful enough during this time to warrant it getting licensed for a scratch-off lottery game.  I picked up these during a trip back to Nebraska in 2007:

Hot Tamales branded Nebraska Lottery scratch tickets - 2007

Hot Tamales branded Nebraska Lottery scratch tickets – 2007

In 2008 I first encountered a Valentine’s holiday edition box for Hot Tamales (though I believe they’d done some of these in the past):

Just Born - Hot Tamales Valentines Day box - 2008

Just Born – Hot Tamales Valentines Day box – 2008

A few years later, they’d release a full-sized box version of Hot Tamales for Valentine’s Day entitled “Untamed Love Mix”:

Just Born - Hot Tamales - Untamed Love Mix - 5 oz candy box - Valentine's Holiday 2013

Just Born – Hot Tamales – Untamed Love Mix – 5 oz candy box – Valentine’s Holiday 2013

Jumping back to 2009, Just Born expanded the Hot Tamales brand into jelly beans, with a somewhat expected cinnamon variety as well as an unusual black licorice flavor:

Just Born - Hot Tamales Cinnamon Flavored Jelly Beans - 9oz candy package - 2009

Just Born – Hot Tamales Cinnamon Flavored Jelly Beans – 9oz candy package – 2009

Just Born - Hot Tamales Licorice Flavored Jelly Beans - 9oz candy package - 2009

Just Born – Hot Tamales Licorice Flavored Jelly Beans – 9oz candy package – 2009

That same year, Ford Gum became a licensee of Just Born and produced Hot Tamales sugarless gum:

Ford Gum - Just Born - Hot Tamales sugar free cinnamon flavored gum package - 2009

Ford Gum – Just Born – Hot Tamales sugar free cinnamon flavored gum package – 2009

A year later the brand would even get the cotton candy treatment:

Just Born - Candy ASAP - Hot Tamales Cotton Candy - foil package - 2010

Just Born – Candy ASAP – Hot Tamales Cotton Candy – foil package – 2010

As the brand was expanding its licensing reach, Just Born was also trying new things in house.  2009 saw the release of retro-themed boxes for both Hot Tamales and Mike and Ike.  Here’s what the Hot Tamales box looked like:

Just Born - Hot Tamales retro box - 2009

Just Born – Hot Tamales retro box – 2009

Retailers also received a Christmas Holiday edition of the standard-sized 6 oz Hot Tamales box in 2009:

Just Born - Hot Tamales - Holiday 6oz box - 2009

Just Born – Hot Tamales – Holiday 6oz box – 2009

This box design would return in subsequent years, though by 2012 the standard theater size had dropped from six ounces to five:

Just Born - Hot Tamales - Christmas Holiday Edition - 5 oz candy box - 2012

Just Born – Hot Tamales – Christmas Holiday Edition – 5 oz candy box – 2012

During a trip to Canada in 2010, I was delighted to find a Canadian edition of the standard Hot Tamales box, complete with bilingual packaging.  A fun addition to my collection:

Canada - Just Born - Hot Tamales - candy box - 2010

Canada – Just Born – Hot Tamales – candy box – 2010

That box matched up well with the version that was on shelves back home the following year:

Just Born - Hot Tamales - Chewy Cinnamon Flavored Candies - candy box - December 2011

Just Born – Hot Tamales – Chewy Cinnamon Flavored Candies – candy box – December 2011

A new era and new box design was coming for Hot Tamales, but the solid red box would get one final groovy promotion before retiring – here is a box from 2011 featuring the Just Born Sweets & Beats promo:

Just Born - Hot Tamales - Sweets & Beats Sweepstakes - 6 oz candy box - 2011

Just Born – Hot Tamales – Sweets & Beats Sweepstakes – 6 oz candy box – 2011

Though 2012 would usher in a new look for Hot Tamales boxes, I found an unusual offering in an unexpected place that year:  A special theater box only available at movie theater chains:

Just Born - Summit Food Ent - Hot Tamales - movie theater edition - candy box - 2012

Just Born – Summit Food Ent – Hot Tamales – movie theater edition – candy box – 2012

Before getting the new design Hot Tamales boxes in 2012, however, 2011 gave us what I came to decide was the replacement for the now-discontinued Hot Tamales Fire – Hot Tamales 3 Alarm.  More than just a renamed and re-branded Hot Tamales Fire, this was something a bit different – a box with three levels of hot cinnamon candies:

Just Born - Hot Tamales 3 Alarm - 6oz candy box - 2011

Just Born – Hot Tamales 3 Alarm – 6oz candy box – 2011

Hot Tamales 3 Alarm were released in the last few months of the 6 ounce box size standard.  By 2012, that was reduced to 5 ounce and so was Hot Tamales 3 Alarm:

Just Born - Hot Tamales 3 Alarm - 5oz candy box - 2012

Just Born – Hot Tamales 3 Alarm – 5oz candy box – 2012

Hot Tamales 3 Alarm was  the first time that I noticed a reduction from 2.12 ounces on the standard plastic packs to 1.8 ounces:

Just Born - Hot Tamales 3 Alarm - 1.8 oz candy package 2012

Just Born – Hot Tamales 3 Alarm – 1.8 oz candy package 2012

I even picked a 25-cent box size for 3 Alarm – I think the Just Born 25-cent box sizes are pretty neat:

Just Born - Hot Tamales 3 Alarm - 25-cent  .78 oz candy box - 2012

Just Born – Hot Tamales 3 Alarm – 25-cent .78 oz candy box – 2012

2012 might be best known in the Just Born world as the year that Mike and Ike were breaking up their team, but it was also a pretty big year for Hot Tamales, as the brand received major makeover.  Though they retained their fireball mascot, boxes became much flashier – with swirling graphic flames replacing the flat red background of the boxes that preceded them:

Just Born - Hot Tamales - Fierce Cinnamon - 5 oz candy box - 2012

Just Born – Hot Tamales – Fierce Cinnamon – 5 oz candy box – 2012

With a new box design on store shelves, I was quick to try to grab an example of each major size:

Just Born - Hot Tamales - Fierce Cinnamon - 1.8 oz candy package - 2012

Just Born – Hot Tamales – Fierce Cinnamon – 1.8 oz candy package – 2012

Just Born - Hot Tamales - Fierce Cinnamon - 25-cent .78oz candy box - 2013

Just Born – Hot Tamales – Fierce Cinnamon – 25-cent .78oz candy box – 2013

Just Born - Hot Tamales - Fierce Cinnamon - 10 oz candy package - 2013

Just Born – Hot Tamales – Fierce Cinnamon – 10 oz candy package – 2013

I even found one of the “Big Box” versions of the new box design:

Just Born - Hot Tamales Firece Cinnamon - The BIG Box - 8.3 oz candy box - 2013

Just Born – Hot Tamales Fierce Cinnamon – The BIG Box – 8.3 oz candy box – 2013

It’s worth noting that “The Big Box” size for 2013 is a reduced 8.3 ounces, down from 9.5 in 2007 (the only other “Big Box” I have in my collection.)

JustBorn - Hot Tamales THE BIG BOX box - 2007

JustBorn – Hot Tamales THE BIG BOX box – 2007

So that pretty much brings us up to speed and what’s currently on shelves right now for Hot Tamales.

But I do have one last Hot Tamales treat to share, and it’s a pretty cool one.

Currently, there’s a Hot Tamales brand extension that’s out though it’s not easy to find.  For the moment these are only available at Albertons and H-E-B stores, or via the Just Born online store – take a look at a package for Hot Tamales Tropical Heat!

Just Born - Hot Tamales Tropical Heat - 8 oz candy package - 2013

Just Born – Hot Tamales Tropical Heat – 8 oz candy package – 2013

With flavors like Limon Fever, Mango Tango and Pineapple Picante, Tropical Heat might be the most unusual Hot Tamales spinoff ever!

And that’s it – all 50 Hot Tamales packages in one very long post.

I hope you all enjoyed today’s entry and the wrap up to our CollectingCandy.com Cinnamon Hot Week.

In a day or two, we’ll be starting our month-long CountdownToHalloween.  I hope you can drop by and keep up with all we’ll be covering.

See you next time!

 ————–

This post was a part of CollectingCandy.com’s Cinnamon Hot Week!

CC_Collecting Candy HotWeek TITLE PLATE

 

About Jason Liebig

A New York City based writer, editor and sometimes actor. After spending much of the 1990′s in the comic book business helping tell the stories of Marvel Comics’ X-Men as series editor, he has since split his time between developing his own entertainment properties while still consulting and working on others. Having been described as “the Indiana Jones of lost and forgotten candy”, Jason is one of the country’s premier candy collectors and historians with his discoveries appearing in countless blogs, magazines, newspaper articles, and books. Always happy to share his knowledge and unique perspectives on this colorful part of our popular culture, Jason has consulted with New York’s Museum of Food and Drink and has also been a featured guest on Food Network’s Heavyweights, France’s M6 Capital, and New York’s TheActionRoom.com. My Google Profile+
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2 Responses to Hot Week: Digging Hot Tamales Through the Decades!

  1. Bravo Mr. Liebig! My favorite post so far. I wonder why they didn’t hire Paris Hilton and her “That’s hot” catch-phrase. I love the fire-puking sun on the Super Hot Tamales package.

  2. Pingback: Q&A With America's #1 Candy Wrapper Collector and Historian

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