When Gremlins and Candy Met – A History of Gremlins Confections from the 1950’s to Today!

CC_Gremlins history of Candy TITLE PLATE-Gremlins

Today I’ll be looking at the confectionery connections to Gremlins, both the 1984 Joe Dante-directed film classic as well as the Brown and Haley treat of the same name that preceded it – along with the time when the two came together back in 1984.  [Including coverage of this Summer’s Gremlins Snickers tie-in.]

The Brown & Haley company introduced their Gremlins product to the market all the way back in the 1950’s.  A chocolate/caramel/pecan treat, Brown & Haley’s Gremlins were a mainstay for the company if not a cash cow.  By the mid-1970’s Brown & Haley’s Gremlins packaging looked like this:

Brown & Haley - Gremlins - 25-cent partial candy wrapper - mid-1970's

Brown & Haley – Gremlins – 25-cent partial candy wrapper – mid-1970’s

According to the following news clipping, over the years sales for Gremlins would decline and in the early 1980’s Brown & Haley were considering retiring the brand when they caught wind of the upcoming Stephen Spielberg-produced Gremlins film.

Brown & Haley Gremlins - Ocala Star Banner - 6-29-84 - Courtesy Jason of GoneButNotForgottenGroceries

Ocala Star Banner – 6-29-84 – Courtesy  GoneButNotForgottenGroceries

Taking inspiration from the confectionery success Reese’s Pieces enjoyed thanks to their connection to the E.T. The Extra Terrestrial film, I suspect that Brown & Haley hoped for a similar injection of attention when they partnered up with Warner Brothers for a Gremlins promotion based on the lead Mogwai from the film, Gizmo.

Brown & Haley - Gremlins - Discover Gizmos Secret - 2oz candy bar wrapper - 1984

Brown & Haley – Gremlins – Discover Gizmos Secret – 2oz candy bar wrapper – 1984

Of course, Brown & Haley weren’t the only ones to get their hands on the license for Gremlins candy – Topps had their own take on the film’s characters.

Topps Gremlins candy containers - 1980's - Image courtesy Wonderland Toys

Topps Gremlins candy containers – 1980’s – Image courtesy Wonderland Toys, ETSY

Though Gremlins was a cinematic success that even spawned a sequel, it didn’t translate into much of a boost for the Brown & Haley treat of the same name.  As best as I can tell, Brown & Haley’s Gremlins did not make it out of the 1980’s.

But you can’t keep a good pop-cultural film license down, and seemingly out-of-nowhere in 2013, Mars licensed the cinematic Gremlins for use in a Snickers promotion overseas.

I encountered the Gremlins promotion through an Eastern European Summer 2014 release consisting of a Snickers wrapper as well as two different laminated shelf-talkers.

Croatia - Bosnia - Poland - Mars - Snickers - Snickers Gremlins promotional shelf talker - you're not yourself - bar burst out - Summer 2014

Croatia – Bosnia – Poland – Mars – Snickers – Snickers Gremlins promotional shelf talker – you’re not yourself – bar burst out – Summer 2014

Croatia - Bosnia - Poland - Mars - Snickers - Snickers Gremlins promotional shelf talker - you're not yourself when you're hungry - Summer 2014

Croatia – Bosnia – Poland – Mars – Snickers – Snickers Gremlins promotional shelf talker – you’re not yourself when you’re hungry – Summer 2014

The promotion incorporates the broader “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry.” campaign that Snickers has been using for the last few years, putting the focus entirely on the cinematic Gremlins as hungry alter-ego.  They’ve even created neat-looking Gremlins-themed prizes.

Snickers Gremlins promotional shelf talker - close-up of goodies - Summer 2014

Snickers Gremlins promotional shelf talker – close-up of goodies – Summer 2014

All in all, it’s a pretty cool promotion – though a disappointment might be that the promotion isn’t available here in the United States and that the promotional Snickers wrappers feature no fun Gremlins imagery.

Croatia - Bosnia - Poland - Mars - Snickers - Grab Gremlin Stage & Win Year's Supply of Snickers - 50g chocolate candy bar wrapper - Summer 2014

Croatia – Bosnia – Poland – Mars – Snickers – Grab Gremlin Stage & Win Year’s Supply of Snickers – 50g chocolate candy bar wrapper – Summer 2014

What we do get is a tiny Gremins logo, stuffed next to the small print packaging indicia:

Snickers Gremlins wrapper - isolated close-up - Summer 2014

Snickers Gremlins wrapper – isolated close-up – Summer 2014

It’s really a shame that more wasn’t done graphically on the wrapper as they could have done some great things with the Gremlins concept and the Snickers bar package design.  But where they didn’t have fun with the Gremlins on the wrapper, they killed it with their commercial spot, which you can see here.  It’s pretty fantastic:

These Gremlin wrappers join the other Spielberg-related confectionery film tie-ins I have in my collection like the aforementioned E.T. The Extra Terrestrial pieces as well as a couple Jurassic Park candy boxes and my prized The Goonies candy bar wrapper.  Fun stuff all the way around.

And that’s everything I’ve got to share on Gremlins and their unexpected and long history with confection.  Don’t feed them after midnight!

See you next time!

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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.

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3 Responses to When Gremlins and Candy Met – A History of Gremlins Confections from the 1950’s to Today!

  1. Mike J. says:

    Now that you’ve mentioned it, I HAVE to ask you about the Jurassic Park candy. It was one of my favorite films as a kid, and remains a favorite to this day.

    • Jason Liebig says:

      Mike,

      I don’t have any Jurassic Park coverage planned, but with the new movie coming… next year? perhaps I should start putting something together. I will let you know.

      -J

  2. Pingback: Snickers Week Day 5: Poland’s Amazing Gremlins Wrappers!! | CollectingCandy.com

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