I am excited to finally be getting to today’s post, as I’ve wanted to cover the subject of Fun Dip for a long time. It’s good that I waited, as the last couple of months have provided key pieces of information on the background of the brand.
Fun Dip is such a unique confectionery treat that it leaves a tasty sugary residue in the consciousness of anyone who has ever tried it. It certainly did for me, and I absolutely recall the first time I found this at my local Woolworth’s store, and how amazed I was at the unique experience of consumption that it provided. At least in the United States, there’s never been anything quite like Fun Dip that stuck around for any amount of time.
What might surprise readers is that one of the key components in Fun Dip, that Lik-m-Aid powder, has been around at least 60 years. Today, I will cover the earliest versions of that product, and track its development all the way to today.
Fun Dip was created in 1973 when Sunline came up with a new way to enjoy Lik-m-Aid, by adding the Lik-a-Stix. But Lik-m-Aid had already been around for at least two decades before that.
Although the Wikipedia entry lists Lik-m-Aid as being introduced in 1942, I could find no corroborating evidence to support that, and the trademark info leads me to believe that 1952 is a more likely year for its introduction. Featuring the elf mascot that would eventually be well-known as the mascot for Pixy Stix, Lik-m-Aid was originally produced by the Fruzola company, and sold in single flavor packets:
It’s unclear exactly when it occurred, but by the early 1960’s, the Fruzola name was gone and Sunline was now the company behind Lik-m-Aid, as you can see by these illustrated trade ads:
Based on what I’ve been able to piece together, it appears as if the transition to full-color packaging for Lik-m-Aid occurred in 1963, or maybe a little bit earlier. The new full-color packages would still feature the Elf mascot from the previous monochromatic versions, but would now include images of children in costumes of various professions:
Take note of these unused proof packaging examples. These would have been folded in half, allowing for horizontal or vertical stocking. Each child illustration features a different profession, and from what I’ve seen there were many versions produced. Also take the time to check out what they recommended putting the Lik-m-Aid on; corn flakes, gum, cracker snacks and ice cream – Pee Wee Herman would be proud:
By the mid-to-late 1960’s, the color packs with costumed children were replaced with a more graphic approach, which almost seemed to be targeting an older consumer. Each 1-cent package featured a fun mail-away offer on the back. Here’s what they looked like:
I’ve attempted to track how long that style of packaging lasted, but it’s been difficult. My best guess is that they were used until the time when Fun Dip was introduced. I had hoped to find these included in late 60’s or early 70’s trade advertisements, but Sunline was focusing all of their promotional efforts during those years to their new hit, Sweettarts.
So, those Lik-m-Aid pack styles likely made it into the early 1970’s, though I cannot be 100% certain. The next evolution of Lik-m-Aid that I can confirm was when the brand transformed into the now-classic Fun Dip.
When I first set out to research Fun Dip, I had guessed, based on the trademark registration information and my own personal recollections, that it was first put on sale in 1977 or 1978. That’s the time-period I seem to remember first having it.
I would eventually find that Fun Dip was first mentioned all the way back in April of 1973, and likely on store shelves later that year or by early 1974. Here’s a trade clipping mentioning its introduction. [Because I spend hours researching this material, and because I am passionate about it - finding this trade clipping was an exciting discovery for me.]:
So Fun Dip was discussed as early as April 1973. In December of 1973, Sunline published the following trade ad, which is where today’s title image of Fun Dip was pulled from. It’s the earliest image of Fun Dip that I have uncovered:
Although Fun Dip would eventually contain three flavors of Lik-m-Aid and two Lik-A-Stix, this wasn’t the case when it was introduced. During those early years, Fun Dip included only two flavors and one stick. Here’s the earliest pack I’ve come across, dating to 1976:
The design and graphics found on those first Fun Dip packages would be used throughout the 1970’s, and well into the 1980’s.
Although Fun Dip launched with just two flavors, a three-flavor pack would be introduced when lime was added, probably in the late 70’s. I assume that single flavor packs were introduced around that same time. I have a pair of the singles from 1982:
The package style I most fondly remember is the three flavor pack with two sticks, and it was still being used in 1986, with little alteration from the early 70’s package, as you can see here:
The classic Fun Dip design lasted quite a while – over a decade, though it would eventually be replaced, probably in the late 80’s. With that redesign, the lime flavor would also be retired and replaced by blue raspberry. Here’s what the redesigned packaging looked like:
Sunline tried something a little different in the early 1990’s – releasing a product based entirely around the idea of the flavored versions of the edible Lik-a-Stix. They called it Yummy Mummies:
Fun Dip would get another major packaging update on January 1st, 1996:
The mid-1990’s also saw what I am confident was the first holiday-themed edition with Ghoulish Fun Dip:
In the year 2000, Fun Dip would once again receive a major design overhaul. For the first time, packages would receive the Wonka branding and join their confectionery family, which they remain a part of today. The year 2000 overhaul also saw the introduction of sour apple as one of the three flavors of Lik-m-Aid:
I really like that year-2000 blue packaging, with its heavy emphasis on the Oompa mascots. Very fun. In 2003 or 2004, that package style would be retired, replaced by the following version, which lasted several years:
While the US market had the Cherry, Grape and RazzApple flavors, Canadian packages of Fun dip swapped out the RazzApple for Tangerine – I picked this up for the bi-lingual nature of it just a few weeks ago. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized the flavor difference:
The 2000’s also saw a short-lived introduction of a Fun Dip Sour edition:
The other major brand-extension in the 2000’s came in the form of Tropical Fun Dip. The Tropical packs also featured an interesting innovation – a lime-flavored Lik-a-Stix:
Here are a few other late 2000’s pack size and holiday variations:
In 2010, Wonka saw a major line-wide packaging redesign. The new designs were bold and seemingly inspired by the Tim Burton Wonka film. In my opinion, it represents the most dramatic line-wide redesign since the Wonka brand was launched in the early 1970’s. This was the new look for Fun Dip, and the design remains today:
Fun Dip has continued to see new seasonal versions and variations built around the new design – here are a few:
That’s everything I’ve got to share today on the topic of Fun Dip and its colorful packaging history. It’s a classic confectionery treat, and one that I am confident will be around for generations to come.
One last bit of fun – a visual timeline of major Lik-m-Aid and Fun Dip packaging versions: