When I posted about those 30-year-old unopened candy bars last week, I said that finding old candy wasn’t easy so you have to look for it wherever you can.
Today’s post will illustrate that while vintage candy is exceedingly difficult to find, it is out there and sometimes just takes the right kind of curiosity to uncover. With that in mind, I’m going to share how I came into possession of a decades-old case of Reeds candy.
For those that don’t know, Reeds were a roll candy, somewhat similar to Lifesavers though they had their own appeal and dedicated fans.
I liked Reeds quite a lot, especially the Cinnamon and Butterscotch flavors. Growing up in the 1970’s I could find them in most candy isles. Into the 1990’s, they would become less and less common, and I’d only see them occasionally. Sadly, they ceased production in 2005 or 2006, but I’m told they may be making a comeback soon. That’s exciting news for fans of Reeds candy, and I’ll be sharing more about that as I learn it.
About two years ago, I was talking with an eBay seller who had offered some unusual candy pieces on eBay. I was intrigued and asked how he came to be in possession of these items. He obliged with a story:
“There was an old convenience store here in north east PA. It has been closed for decades. The place has been around forever. I passed by it a million times but no one was ever there, then one day I saw someone clearing it out and selling what they could. They must have just watched an episode of American Pickers because their prices weren’t cheap. I found this candy and some others in an old store room that had not seen daylight in 30 years.”
That discussion led to his description of the Reeds case and asking if I’d be interested – I was. Soon a deal was struck and a week later it arrived at my door.
The first thing I noticed when I opened the package and saw the Reeds shipper box was the smell – it was musty, and there appeared to be old mold stains or light water damage on the cardboard of the shipper. So the outer box was not great, but it was still cool to see it. Then, I cracked it open.
I was relieved when I discovered that each individual display box was sealed in a thick clear plastic, protecting it from whatever that odd aroma was that plagued the cardboard shipper.
I pulled the cinnamon display box out first, and put it up to my nose. A big whiff revealed the faint odor of cinnamon – even through the plastic. Weird, but cool.
Out came the rest, one by one. It presented a great assortment of the flavors.
The only negative about these was the cardboard insert, a sales message explaining that each box had two free rolls. Great for the retailer, who never sold them, but not so great since I only got to see one roll from each box.
Still – it was an amazing thing to see these – and looking no different than they might have thirty-five years earlier.
The condition of these was remarkable, considering they survived 35 winters and summers in that Pennsylvania store room.
Only one of them showed any kind of internal confectionery decomposition – the Butterscotch box. Though the evidence was subtle, it was clear that some of those Butterscotch rolls had turned bad, and at some point leaked a bit – leaving light stains. You can see them on this side-shot of the boxes.
So, here I had 130 rolls of these wonderful old candies packed into six display boxes. But what to do with them? I wanted to get a better look at those inner rolls – perhaps open a few packs and see what was inside…
But I didn’t. I felt that an assortment like this, in this pristine condition was too unusual and too special. It was unlike anything I’d encountered before. So I put them back in their shipper box and there they’ve remained until today, when I brought them out for these photos.
The moral here is: If you see an old convenience store that’s been shuttered for two decades – e-mail me.
Jason Liebig is a rare collector. His passion and energy is unrivaled. His collection has such depth and expanse that anyone can find something that will interest them and capture their attention. Jason’s collective, some of which was previously seen on flicker and now here in this wonderful new web site, is like a magical portal in time. Every label, wrapper, box, candy, cereal, and food item tells a fascinating story and captures a moment in time like a great history documentary with a fun and fascinating tale.
Like music, fun retro food serves as a remarkable mechanism to relive moments from our past, and what’s better than reliving those moments. I applaud Jason for his remarkable ability to collect, sought and display such a diverse collection.
At http://www.IconicCandy.com we are trying to revive some of these great gone but by no means forgotten Iconic Candies. Currently we are diligently working on the revival of both REEDS and REGAL CROWN SOURS, two of the greatest hard (high boil) candies. We will soon be releasing more information on the return of Reeds which was so timely covered by Jason here. Reeds candy company and its owners had a quite storied history which I am sure will be expanded here in CollectingCandy.com’s blog and at Iconiccandy.com.
I remember Reed’s. I think my favorite was Butterscotch. This is like finding an old unassembled Erector Set or Heathkit computer kit. Unless you have more than one box of each flavor, I wouldn’t open them, altho I suspect the urge to do so is rather strong…
I can only imagine how you feel when you find a piece of candy history like this. It would be similar to me finding an unopened case of Star Wars figures from 1978.
I think I vaguely remember Reeds after seeing the rolls but don’t recall much else.
Dex – Yeah, I’d probably feel even better if I had an unopened case of Star Wars figures from 1978. That would be… awesome.
My aunt recently mentioned she missed these candies. I searched online and had to tell her they were discontinued. I did; however, find her second favorite candy, Butter Rum Lifesavers. I was so excited to find them that I bought 80 rolls! From one shopper to another – Congrats on your find!
I loved Reed’s cinnamon. Everytime I go to Cambridge, MA I always ask around about Reeds as if they will reappear. Seems they always discontinue the good stuff! I’d love to be able to get hold of these. They were one of my favorite childhood candies.
I was recently telling my husband about Reed’s butterscotch, how clear and smooth and good! Decided to look online and surprise, great information about it. I remember my dad getting Reed’s square butterscotch wrapped in cellophane at the Sears candy counter. They were so goooood!!! Does anyone else remember them at Sears?
Can’t wait for the rolls to reappear!!!
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Your discovery is wonderful. I’m just now reading about it. When I was a boy, my mom would buy Reed’s for me instead of the “other” brand, because she thought that having OUR last name on the candy was fun. I did too, and I wish I could find the delicious candy in these “modern times!” Thank you for the story. Missing them a lot!
What a wonderful find. Thank you for sharing this. I read on another blog that the butterscotch used real butter in them. This would explain the staining on inside packaging.
Root Beer was my favorite. I hated the individual wrappers because many times it would be stuck to the candy and you’d have to spend time picking it off. Invariably there were a few slivers that you couldn’t remove and just to eventually spit out.
Yes, I remember the square ones. We use to always get them at the Woolworth candy counter.
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Reed’s Cinnamon and Root Beer hard candies are back.
They sure are. Quite different than I remember, but quite good, in spite of that.
I’ve seen the Reed’s Cinnamon at the specialty soda shop on Second Avenue in Nashville, TN within the last month. If Mr. Liebig says it is different, then the rewrappers have missed the point, haven’t they? My late mother loved these because they were *ferociously* spicy hot. In early 2000 we found a jar of them that she had socked away. I soaked the plastic (individual wrapping of each candy) off of them for her to enjoy, one last time.
Iconic Candy is a family business that undertakes the return of nostalgic candies where no other company would dare go. Our goal is to return discontinued (some long discontinued) nostalgic candies to their customers in as close to the original as possible. We are compelled by the customers who like us yearn for the candy’s return. The return of these iconic candies is a monumental and risky undertaking for a small family business. Simply wrestling the control from the mega candy companies hands is a very costly and lengthy process with an uncertain future. Therafter we must devise the equipment to both produce and wrap the product which is also costly and very difficult. From the start up and through bringing it back to the market can take five years or more. Unlike many many years ago, the candy business is controlled by mega multi national companies. These companies recognize that the nostalgic market is not only a niche business but it’s customers are very discerning. So it will not return candies which it has in its cobweb inventory of trademarks and rights. If you produce a product that is 95% exact to its original, as can be seen, some customers will not celebrate the 95% but rather complain about the 5%. Nevertheless there are an overwhelming number of nostalgic fans that recognize the accomplishments and supremely enjoy the return and at the same time encourage the family business that takes the risk to enter into a market where the cards are stacked against them. It is these customers we continue to return nostalgic candies to and continually work to bring the candy back as it was or as close as it was as possible. With enough support we can continue.