What can you say about Razzles? As it turns out, quite a lot.
I don’t recall what my earliest memory of Razzles was, only that they seemed to be ever present in the tapestry of my confectionery youth.
My most vivid memory of Razzles comes not from my childhood, but from my years as an editor for Marvel Comics, when I worked on their X-Men comic books. It was the late 1990’s, and Marvel had purchased the Fleer company some years before this, Fleer being the manufacturer of Razzles gum. Due to this, the President’s seceratary always had a closet fully stocked with Fleer candy and gum. Once I figured this out, I availed myself of the candy-closet (and the kindness of the woman who guarded it) whenever I could. My go-to treat? Razzles.
As I’ve stated here on CollectingCandy.com, candy history, especially the Wikipedia version of it, is often filled with incorrect data. It’s not surprising, due to the lack of solid info out there. Looking at the current entry for Razzles, it shows them being introduced in 1966, but based on the only early packaging piece I’ve encountered, this seems wrong. More likely, it would appear that Razzles were introduced in 1968:
This early Razzles package still sports “New!” on the pack, and was on shelves in the late 1968-1969 period. So 1968 would be a more likely year to point to as the introductory year for Razzles.
Though it’s not evident these days, Razzles received their name partly due to the fact that, when introduced, they were solely a raspberry-flavored treat. It would be a few years later before we’d see Razzles offered in assorted flavors. Based on my research, 1972 would appear to be the first year that fruit-flavored Razzles hit store shelves:
One thing I’m not sure on is whether the fruit-flavored Razzles replaced the original raspberry-only versions, or if they were sold side-by-side for a time. It seems likely the the fruit-flavor Razzles simply replaced the originals.
The original package style was still being used as late as 1974:
1975 saw the introduction of a new design for Razzles packaging. Gone were the Razzle-shaped faces of people, now replaced by fruit mascots:
This period also saw the introduction of flavor extensions for the brand, with Sour Razzles:
The fruit-mascot Razzles packaging would last a few more years, but by 1980, they would be phased out, in favor the package style seen below:
This early 80’s package style is the one I remember most clearly from my own childhood. Perhaps it’s because it was tied so closely to my days of regular visits to Woolworths, trying to find the latest Empire Strikes Back trading cards. I have that package still full with the original Razzles in it. I suspect that they haven’t held up well…
Another great Razzles piece that came from the early 80’s might be my favorite of them all:
There’s nothing I don’t love about Ape Size Razzles. It’s just awesome.
Razzles saw another packaging overhaul in 1984:
After a number of years without one, 1984 also saw the return of a Razzles flavor-extension – with Tropical Razzles:
It’s great to see the introduction of Tropical Razzles during this period. I recently acquired a neat sell-sheet from this period of Razzles:
Though not a major redesign, the packages received some tweaks for the “Razzles Letters” promotion in 1986:
Here’s a small clipping of Razzles “Ticket to Adventure” promotion from the following year:
In 1989, Razzles would see their next major packaging redesign. My eye tells me that this 1989 package shows the first signs of computer design influence:
The 1989 redesign also saw the inclusion of a different flavor extension for the brand. This time, the standard Razzles were joined by a Tangy Fruit variety, as seen in this clipping from a Fleer price listing:
I don’t have a Tangy Fruit Razzles package, but you can be sure that it’s on my want-list.
Moving on into the 1990’s, we reach the period when Marvel had purchased Fleer, and I was enjoying Razzles on a regular basis out of my office desk drawer. The mid-1990’s saw the most dramatic design change for Razzles, as they would finally lose their distinctive circled-lettering design, which they had for nearly 30-years, replaced with what I would call something more “extreme”:
By the year 2000, Fleer had been sold to a Canadian company called Concorde Confections (not to be confused with the USA-based Condord Confections of the early 70’s) – and they handled the manufacture and distribution of Razzles until the brand was taken over by Tootsie. The package design, likely introduced in the early 2000’s, appears to have remained unchanged, and there are now three flavor-packs of Razzles available, the flavor extensions tie together the ones offered in the 1970’s and the 1980’s:
So, nearly 45 years later, Razzles are still around – that’s what I call a timeliness confectionery classic.
I’m going to round out with a visual timeline, collecting the major packaging evolutions of the brand over its four decades. This is easily the longest timeline I’ve put together. It makes me think I need more than just a vertical stack, when I’ve got so many package variations to include:
Have you checked the patent records with it’s patent number (3,262,784) to see if there’s any clue on the debut year?
I did not check that… Would that provide a certain date? Or just a date on patent filing and approval? I’ve found that trademarks have sometimes been filed a year after a product is released…
The patent will provide two dates – the date it was filed or applied for, and the date the patent was issued. It’ll also tell you who the company that owned the patent is / was, and maybe the name of the inventor(s).
In this case, it says:
Patent # 3,262,784
Patented July 26, 1966 (the date the patent was granted by the government)
“Chewing Gun Product and Method of Making Same” (The title of the patent)
Robert C. Bucher, Harleysville, Pa. (the patent attorney who filed the application), Assignor to Frank H. Fleer Corporation, Philadelphia, Pa. (the person(s) or company who owns the patent)
Filed dec. 2, 1963 (this is the date the patent was applied for – three years before it was granted!)
Additionally, you can look up brand names (AKA registered trademarks) as well. It’ll tell you the owner, the ‘category’ of the product or service, the date is was filed, the date it expired, when it was renewed (if ever), and if the protected trademark status is still active. If you’re lucky, there’s a picture of the logo or word art, if ‘they’ applied for that as well, and didn’t just say “the word ‘Razzles.'”
Goods & Services: Chewing Gum (the debate is solved!)
FIRST USE: 1964-08-11. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 1964-08-11
And “Razzles” is ‘live’, meaning still registered as a trademark. It was renewed in 2006.
So, you can look up any US patent number easily enough, and check for any US registered trademark as well.
Super post once again!
I wanted to add one bit of information. The kid on the back of the ’70s Sour Razzles wrapper was named Reggie Razzle (no “s”). At one time they did a mail-away Reggie doll promo.
Regarding the patent / trademark comments, the USPTO website is a valuable resource for this kind of stuff. It’s that “first use in commerce” date, when available, that I find most important when doing research.
I very clearly remember Razzles being a prized treat for me and my brother, and the packaging I recall was the 1974 version. I remember one Razzles-related incident very clearly all these years later: a friend of ours bet that he could chew an entire package at once. He *barely* managed it.
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I’m trying to find the lyrics to the original jingle. All I can remember is “First it’s a candy, then it’s a gum. Little round Razzles are so much fun….gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme. Gimme some Razzles….”.
My husband’s best friend’s father worked for Fleer. He was the one who came up with the name Razzles. His name was Ray Beck.
That’s an amazing bit of confectionery history! Wow! I’d love to speak to your husband’s friend about his father. Drop me a line if that’s possible. -Jason