Today is special to me as it marks the Third Anniversary of CollectingCandy.com – first launched on February 6th, 2012. And while I wasn’t able to program a week-long anniversary celebration as I did last year, I have endeavored to bring a few especially fun pieces together this week, concluding with today’s post on the history of Nestle’s Choco’Lite bar.
This is one I’m especially excited to share as it represents the culmination of years of hunting for (and finding) little grains of historical information along the way. There are still Choco’Lite promotions and pieces I haven’t turned up material for, so this isn’t as complete as I’d like, but it’s awfully close. So make the jump to check out the (nearly) definitive history of Nestle’s Choco’Lite!
Choco’Lite was an aerated chocolate bar sold in the United States from 1972 until around 1982, but it shouldn’t be confused with just another Aero bar knockoff which some internet commenters occasionally compare it to. I’ve long held that the Choco’Lite bar represented a significantly different textural experience than what one gets from an Aero.
Not long after I launched this site back in 2012, I published a short write-up on the Choco’Lite and within that post I conveyed the importance of the packaging’s description of “crispy chips”. I think those crispy chips are an important distinction and that leads to an important discovery I made on the ancestry of the Choco’Lite bar.
The ingredients list of Choco’Lite has always included honey, which is likely what provided it with the crispy chips element. Recalling this, last year I discovered that Nestle UK had produced an aerated bar with honey all the way back in the 1930’s. That bar was called the Bubblo and I have an image of an early wrapper here:
So, Nestle’s Bubblo may well be the earliest and clearest ancestor to the Choco’Lite bar, which would follow four decades later.
Though Nestle would go on to purchase the Rowntree company in the late 1980’s and come to own the Aero aerated chocolate bar, it wasn’t always so. I believe that Nestle’s efforts to create their own version of an aerated bar were long motivated to compete with Rowntree’s successful Aero. Which leads me to my next discovery.
Years after the Bubblo had disappeared, Nestle took another crack at an aerated chocolate bar, this time for distribution in the United States. This bar was called Nestle’s Puffed.
Unlike the Bubblo, this bar contained no honey and so was a straight-up aerated chocolate bar more similar to Rowntree’s Aero bar at the time. I’m happy to have picked up a pair of Nestle’s Puffed pieces in recent years; a wrapper and a display box. [Note: These pieces are both for Nestle’s Puffed Milk Chocolate, but Nestle’s also produced a dark chocolate version of the Puffed bar at the time.]
After Nestle’s Puffed, we jump ahead to December of 1971 and the candy trade announcement of the launch of Nestle’s new Choco’Lite bar:
Interestingly, that Choco’Lite trade clipping includes mention of another Nestle aerated chocolate bar, the Choco’Puff. I’ve never found images of the aforementioned Choco’Puff bar, so that’s one I’m still on the hunt for.
So by late 1971, the Choco’Lite had begun its roll out to the United States. Last year I unearthed a film reel for what was likely the very first Choco’Lite television commercial spot and had it digitally transferred:
I’m thrilled to have finally tracked down an example of that very first version of Choco’Lite bar wrapper – the “rookie wrapper”, if you will:
That wrapper sports an early version of the Choco’Lite logo which would change just a couple of years later.
During this initial product roll-out, Nestle’s promotions included the following point-of-purchase cardboard sign, likely given to retailers along with their first Choco’Lite orders:
In April of 1973, Nestle’s touted the early popularity of their Choco’Lite with the following trade ad:
I’ve determined that 1974 saw the first redesign of the Choco’Lite logo and wrapper design, featuring a sharper, more pronounced “C” as well as a Wonka-esque “Whipped” in the description line:
During the 1975-76 period, Choco’Lite’s wrapper design would be tweaked once again, this time to reflect the parent company name change from “Nestle’s” to the singular “Nestle”:
The next two pieces I’ve got to share are from this same period and I think they’re pretty unusual and fun. The first is a wrapper for a Choco’Lite King Size 6oz bar – something I never knew existed until I found this one:
And conversely, here’s the wrapper for a 1/2 ounce “fun-size” Choco’Lite:
Bringing those last three 1975-76 Choco’Lite wrappers together, I thought it would be neat to present a size comparison graphic:
I found a Choco’Lite commercial spot from this period on YouTube, which you can see here:
In early 1977, Nestle once again highlighted the popularity of its Choco’Lite bar with the following trade ad:
Later that same year, Nestle gave the Choco’Lite wrapper a complete redesign and refresh, highlighted with a backdrop of the aerated look of the interior of the bar. [Note: This would be the final Choco’Lite wrapper to be produced without a UPC code.]:
By 1978, Choco’Lite wrappers were brought into the modern age with the inclusion of an on-pack UPC code. This next piece I have to share is great because it includes Choco’Lite’s yellow inner-wrapper (the only example of that inner wrapper I’ve ever found) and features an on-pack mail-away promotion:
1979 was a year of big movie tie-ins for Nestle which included line-wide promotions for both Superman and Star Wars. I don’t have one of the wrappers featuring the Superman promotion, but you can see what one looked like on this isolated section of a promotional coupon:
I do have a Choco’Lite wrapper featuring the Star Wars promo. It’s a bit torn up, but still pretty awesome:
The Nestle line had a less cinematic promotion the following year with a mail-away offer for a set of personalized pencils.
It doesn’t appear that this promotion featured on-pack graphics (though wrappers with this promotion MAY exist – I’ve simply never encountered evidence that they do) and may have been merely promoted with point-of-purchase setups. The following mail-away form would have been found on an in-store display:
The latest (and final) Choco’Lite wrapper I have to show today dates to 1981. I can’t specify exactly when the Choco’Lite bar ceased distribution but a lack of later wrappers point to 1982 being the last year that you would have found them on store shelves. Here it is – what might be the final version of Choco’Lite:
[Edit: After publishing this piece, I came across yet another Choco’Lite variant in my files. Based upon the wrappers I found it with, I estimate it to be from 1982-83. I didn’t realize it was a variant at first due to the fact that it is identical to my 1981 wrapper, save for the background color of the UPC code area.]
So by the early 1980’s, the Choco’Lite story had come to an end, leaving only the memories of the bar by its fans and the mystery of why it went away. Over the years, the myth of the Choco’Lite has continued and the debate about how much it might (or might not) have been like the Aero bar also rages on.
But while the Choco’Lite had been discontinued, Nestle’s quest for its own aerated chocolate bar did not. Just a few years later Nestle would acquire the Rowntree-Mackintosh company, finally giving them ownership of the most iconic and timeless of aerated bars, the Aero.
That new ownership would lead to Nestle delivering an aerated bar back to consumers here in the United States. No, the Choco’Lite had not returned, but rather Nestle introduced an American version of the classic Aero bar.
Announced to the trade in June of 1993, it didn’t last too long but it was great that we got it at all. In what I consider an unusual move at the time, Nestle marketed the American Aero bar as one designed especially for women:
Sadly, the American Aero would be gone soon after it launched. And to my knowledge in the 20 years since, Nestle has not attempted to introduce another aerated chocolate bar to the United States market.
I would still love to see Nestle revive the Choco’Lite brand and bar in the future. Though the prospect of a true Choco’Lite revival might be difficult now as another manufacturer, Healthsmart Foods, has since come out with a low calorie, sugar-free bar featuring a similar name – the Chocolite:
So perhaps it is that we’ll never see the likes of the original Nestle Choco’Lite bar again. But you never know – one can dream…
For now, that’s everything I’ve got to share on my (nearly) definitive history of Nestle’s wonderful Choco’Lite bar. I’m so happy to be able to mark CollectingCandy.com’s third anniversary by celebrating this classic bar and one of the favorites of my youth. See you next time!