I can’t imagine there’s a candy bar as oddly-named as the Zagnut, and while I’ve researched quite a lot on it, the origins of the name itself are lost to time.
My initial attraction to the brand came from its cameo appearance in the movie Beetlejuice, which I detailed yesterday. Today, I’m going to focus on the broader range of Zagnut wrappers in my collection.
A sister to the Clark bar, Zagnut was first launched in 1930 by the D.L. Clark company, and it is still sold today. It bears mentioning that while Zagnut is now sold by Hershey, the Clark bar is currently a Necco brand. It’s a bit unusual, but it would appear that when the Clark brands were sold off, they were done so individually.
This is my earliest Zagnut wrapper – and it likely dates back to some of the earliest years of the brand:
Lightning bolts were a brand-wide design feature on all bars sold by Clark for decades. With Zagnut, the lightning bolt design became part of the typeface itself. Because of this, older Zagnut wrappers have always reminded me of something out of an early 20th century carnival or midway. I could easily see these logos being used for a magician named “Zagnut the Great!”
It’s difficult to accurately date wrappers like these without corroborating information to go along with them. For these pre-70’s Zagnut wrappers, my dates might be off and the order could be mixed-up, but I took an educated guess. I have determined dates for these Zagnuts based largely on the other wrappers they were found with – and assumed they were saved during the same period.
The cool lightning bolt style of Zagnut packaging lasted into the 1960’s, which can be seen in this series of 1963 trade ads:
A few years later, the brand underwent a significant visual overhaul. The sideshow style of graphics gave way to a more modern interpretation, as seen on this 1967 trade ad:
I have a two variations of Zagnut wrappers from the 1970’s; both are pre-UPC with the main differentiating factor being that one has a pre-printed price, and the other does not:
This wrapper style lasted well through the 1970’s, perhaps making into the 1980’s. By 1982, the brand received another major refresh, which was also about the time that Leaf acquired the Clark brands:
While still under the Leaf name, the Zagnut would undergo its latest redesign, which appears to have happened just before or after 1990. It is a design the wrappers retain to this day:
Finally, here’s a timeline of the major Zagnut wrapper designs I have in my collection:
That’s all I have for Zagnut today. Before I sign-off, here’s a fun 1960’s commercial that makes quite a lot of fun of the Zagnut name, and includes a bit of fabricated mythology of how it came to be: