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.