Our Big Rolo Roundup! 75 Years of Rolo!

Today is unofficially my 100th article for CollectingCandy.com, so I wanted to make it a big one.   [Note: This is actually post 105, but several of those were directing readers to other things, so this would be my 100th real candy article, give or take a post.]

Though I only launched this site back in February, it’s been a whirlwind few months, and as much as I thought I knew about candy, I continue to learn more and more as the weeks and months go on.   It’s been great sharing this little corner of consumer and pop culture with everyone these last hundred posts, and I hope that the next several hundred are going to be even more fun.

Today’s piece is a bit of a beast.  I spent the last three days scanning and digging through my files to bring it together, and when I sat down to start writing yesterday, I had over sixty different photos and scans to present.  I trimmed it down as much as I felt I could, and I hope you enjoy what I came up with.

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The Rolo was first sold in the UK by Mackintosh’s in 1937.  Checking my calendar, that means that this simple little chocolate covered caramel treat is celebrating its 75th birthday this year.   A perfect time to have a big Rolo Roundup, don’t you think?

Before 1937, Mackintosh’s were apparently best known for their toffee treats, and the Rolo was simply a chocolate covered version of one of their classic toffee rolls.

[Note: After posting this article, I was fortunate to acquire an example of the very first Rolo wrapper from 1937 – click here to check it out.]

The earliest Rolo wrapper I’ve ever tracked down is one from 15 years after their introduction, a wrapper from 1952.  It’s simple and elegant, sporting the design that would continue to be used without much alteration for the following three decades.  This early Rolo wrapper is a beautiful example with an almost Art Deco Mackintosh’s logo.  It’s a confectionery classic:

UK – Mackintosh’s – Rolo – chocolate candy wrapper – 1952

Though that 1952 Rolo wrapper is a UK variety, you might be surprised to learn that I found it in a scrapbook from Parker, South Dakota and assembled throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s.

I’ve often stated here that finding old candy wrappers is not easy, so you have to sort of get lucky to find the odd place where they were tucked away.   This scrapbook is a great example of that.  Shortly after World War II, a girl in Parker signed up for a European pen pal.  In addition to photos and letters, she and her pen pal from England would spend a number of years exchanging sweets with each other.  Fortunately for me, that girl in South Dakota kept a record of what she received by saving the wrappers in a scrapbook.  Eventually the scrapbook would end up on eBay and in my collection.

Another wrapper from that scrapbook that I want to share today is this early Mackintosh wrapper, likely for the brand that predated Rolo:

UK – Mackintosh’s – Toff-o-Luxe – roll candy wrapper – 1952

So the Rolo was a British creation, but it wasn’t long before it made its way across the Atlantic to the United States.  At first, it appears to have been sold directly by Mackintosh’s, but soon it was produced and distributed (under license) by the New England Confectionery Company – of Necco Wafers and Sky Bar fame.  Here are two early American Rolo wrappers.  These date somewhere from the late 50’s to the early 60’s:

USA – Mackintosh’s Rolo 10-cent candy wrapper – 1950’s 1960’s

USA – Mackintosh’s – NECCO – Rolo 10-cent candy wrapper – 1950’s 1960’s

It’s interesting to note that the New England Confectionery Company must have brought production stateside fairly rapidly, as I believe those two early American Rolo wrappers aren’t separated by too many years.  That Necco licensed version is also notable as we see the inclusion of an illustrated Rolo candy, a design element that would be carried on for American Rolo packaging, and persists to this day.

Right around this same time, the Mars company must have taken notice of Rolo’s success and introduced their own take on the treat.  They called their version of the chocolate-covered caramel, Marsettes (and what a beautiful wrapper they designed for them!):

Mars – Marsettes – 10-cent roll candy wrapper – 1950’s

Necco was still producing Rolos here in the United States up to the very early 1970’s, though they would eventually lose the license to the Hershey Company (who still produce all of the Rolos for the United States today).  Here’s an example of what was probably the last style of Rolo wrapper to come out of the New England Confectionery Company:

USA – Necco – Mackintosh’s Rolo candy wrapper – early 1970’s

I have not been able to suss out the details of how Hershey ended up becoming the US licensee for Rolo, but while Necco had been producing the product locally for over a decade, initial Hershey Rolos were produced in the United Kingdom and imported.   Here’s the earliest Hershey Rolo wrapper I’ve been able to turn up:

Hershey – Rolo – 20-cent candy roll wrapper – 1976-77

That early Hershey Rolo wrapper indicates that the contents were “Made in England”.  That again makes me curious how this all went down?

If you’re wondering why Hershey simply didn’t acquire Necco’s Rolo-producing machinery; well, Necco had other plans.  They may have lost the license to sell Rolos, but apparently they felt they could still sell the confection they’d been making all those years.  They just changed the name, as you can see here:

Necco – Milk Chocolate Caramel Roll – Rolo – roll candy wrapper – mid-1970’s

By 1978, Hershey was also producing its Rolos stateside, as indicated on this 20-cent wrapper:

USA – Hershey – Rolo – 20-cent 155 ounce candy roll wrapper – 1978

That 20-cent wrapper would change to a 25-cent version, and eventually lose the printed-on price altogether.

USA – Hershey – Rolo – 25-cent 1.74 ounce candy roll wrapper – 1979

USA – Hershey – Rolo – 1.55 ounce candy roll wrapper – 1981

With Hershey’s marketing power behind it, Rolo’s reach in the marketplace expanded in the late 70’s and into the 80’s.   The way the product was merchandised was also expanded.   Here’s a larger multi-bag that would have contained individually foil-wrapped Rolo candy pieces:

Hershey – Rolo – multi bag candy package – 1981

From here, my roundup of Rolo could get a little sketchy if I’m trying to go chronologically, as I’ve got UK Rolos, American Rolos, Canadian Rolos, and even a cool German Rolo flavor variant.

In order to keep this somewhat clear, I’m going to go forward focusing just on the evolution of American Rolo packaging, then come back around to the vintage pieces I have from other parts of the world.

Early on in the 1980’s, Hershey increased the size of their packages across the board, so things like Reese’s Pieces and Hershey bars got larger, and this also applied to Rolo.  This may have been a response to inflation and an attempt to appeal to value concerns of consumers.  Here’s what the Rolo wrapper from that promotion looked like:

USA – Hershey – Rolo – Now 9 Pieces – 1.74 ounce candy roll wrapper – 1982

The look of the Rolo logo had remained the same since at least the early 1950’s, but later on in the 80’s or early 90’s, it would be redesigned to become bolder.  [This change occurred earlier in the UK, but I’ll get to that a bit further down…]

USA – Hershey – Rolo – 1.93 ounce candy roll wrapper – late 1980’s to early 1990’s

Soon after the addition of Nutrition Facts to all US packaging, Rolo still sported this design and look:

USA – Hershey – Rolo – 1.91 ounce candy roll wrapper – 1990’s

USA – Hershey – Rolo – 1.91 ounce candy roll wrapper – 2000

In the early 2000’s, American Rolo packages would get their most significant redesign yet with a change to this look:

USA – Hershey – Rolo – roll candy wrapper – 2003 – Image Courtesy CandyWrapperArchive.com

And that brings us finally up to the modern American Rolo package, seen here:

USA – Hershey – Rolo candy roll wrapper – 2012

And that’s my evolution of Rolo wrappers, focused on the American versions.  But there’s more…  Here are some highlights of Rolo packaging from around the world.

Rolos from Around the World

As I said, the bulkier Rolo logo was introduced in the UK much earlier than it was in the United States.  Here are a few of those:

UK – Mackintosh’s – Rolo – 4p chocolate candy wrapper – 1970’s

UK – Mackintosh’s – Rolo – chocolate candy wrapper – 1970’s

UK – Rowntree Mackintosh – Rolo – one extra free – 62g candy roll wrapper – 1980’s

This next wrapper is the earliest I have to sport the Nestle ownership:

UK – Nestle Rowntree Mackintosh – Rolo – 57g roll cany wrapper – 1990’s

In the mid-1990’s Rolo would get the candy bar treatment as you can see here (the Nestle name also takes top-billing now):

UK – Nestle – Rolo Bar – NEW – chocolate candy bar wrapper – 1995

1995 must have been the end of the sharper-edged Rolo logo, as 1996 saw the introduction of the more fluid look for Rolo Bar:

UK – Nestle – Rolo Bar – chocolate candy bar wrapper – 1996

Here are a few other fun late 1990’s and early 2000’s UK Rolo packages:

UK – Nestle – Rolo – Sony 1000 Prizes – candy roll wrapper – 1998

This next wrapper is for Rolo Cookies.  They basically added a cookie core to the caramel center.  Sounds a bit like little bite-size Twix.

UK – Nestle – Rolo Cookies – new – candy wrapper – 1999

UK – Nestle – Rolo – Win a 24ct Gold last Rolo – candy wrapper – 2004

Rolo isn’t known for having mascots, and truth be told, I’ve only ever found mascots represented on a Rolo package once.  It was for the UK’s “Little Rolos” which were first put on sale in 2002 – the mascots are featured on the reverse of the package and they’re quite fun:

UK – Nestle – Little Rolo – NEW – candy package – 2002

The evolution of Rolo in other English-speaking parts of the world like Canada and Australia has followed that of the UK more closely than the USA.  Following is a selection of packaging from those two countries:

Canada – Rowntree-Mackintosh – Rolo – 11 Pieces – candy roll wrapper – 1980’s

Canada – Nestle – Rolo – 11 pieces – candy roll wrapper – 1980’s

Not sure what makes this next one a “Special Edition”, as there’s nothing that points out just what is special about it.  Anyone see something I don’t?

Canada – Nestle – Rolo – Special Edition – chocolate candy roll wrapper – 1990’s

Canada – Nestle – Rolo – roll candy wrapper – 1997

This next version of Canadian Rolo looses the individual makeup of the Rolo and turns it almost into a bar of sorts.

Canada – Nestle – Rolo – New Shape Extra Creamy – roll candy wrapper – 1990’s

Canada – Nestle – Rolo – candy roll wrapper – 1990’s 2000’s

And here’s a wrapper for a roll of Jumbo Rolos I picked up a couple of years ago:

Canada – Nestle – Rolo Jumbo roll wrapper – 2010

And now for some of the Australian/New Zealand pieces:

Australia – Nestle – Rolo – roll candy wrapper – 1998

In Australia and New Zealand, they put out something called Rolo Smooth.  I’m not exactly sure what differentiated it from a standard Rolo – if anyone knows, please leave a comment:

Australia – Nestle – Rolo Smooth – NEW – candy bar wrapper – 1998

Australia – Nestle – Rolo Smooth – NEW – King Size – candy bar wrapper – 1998

Australia also seems to have the corner on the oversized European style versions of Rolo, as evidenced by the following pair of big 200g wrappers:

Australia – Nestle – Rolo Smooth – 200g big bar chocolate candy wrapper – 1999

Australia – Nestle – Rolo – 200g big bar chocolate candy wrapper – 1998

And that’s the end of the standard Rolo wrappers.  Whew!  I’m going to round out today with a selection of other Rolo branded items that I’ve come across in the UK and Canada.  In the United States, Rolo is a time-tested favorite, but in the UK and Canada it is a brand that has been attached to so many other things.  It’s a bit like the way our Reese’s is here.  So there are countless Rolo items in the UK and Canada, but here are just a few:

Canada – Nestle Nesquik Rolo – in store – Fall 2009

Canada – Nestle Rolo ice cream bars – in store – Fall 2009

Canada – Nestle – Rolo Egg – candy package – Easter 2012

UK – London – Nestle – Rolo Doughnuts – Sainsbury – November 2011

And no, I didn’t end up getting the Doughnuts.  The next time I make it back to the UK, if I find them, I’ll make it a point to sample these exotic treats.  While I didn’t try those, I did manage to put away a few Rolo infused cookies.  Here’s the evidence:

UK – Nestle – Rolo Cookies – Sainsbury’s package – November 2011

And that’s all I have for you today…well, one more thing.  This is the most unusual piece of Rolo packaging I’ve ever come across, and it’s the only example I’ve ever seen.  Released in Germany sometime in the late 70’s or early 80’s, this is one of those near-mythical pieces.  It’s certainly one of my absolute faves.  A wrapper for a Rolo Mint…

Germany – Mackintosh’s – Rolo – Peppermint – candy roll wrapper – late 70’s early 80’s

How cool is that?

I wanted to assemble a big timeline for today’s piece, but just ran out of time, and I’m not quite sure how all of this material would fit together in a timeline anyway.  I may still do it, and if I do, I’ll post a link to it here.

With that, I hope you’ve enjoyed this extensive look at the history of Rolo and Rolo packaging through the decades and around the world.  It was a big task to bring it all together, so I hope it makes up for the last few days without posts.   I spent all weekend working on this one.

See you back here tomorrow for another edition of CollectingCandy.com’s Wacky Wednsedays!

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. My Google Profile+
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13 Responses to Our Big Rolo Roundup! 75 Years of Rolo!

  1. Tom says:

    Congrats on your 100th post, I have had a blast following along. As a Canadian it is interesting to see how products in the USA have evolved different designs.

    According to this site: http://www.chocolatereview.co.uk/bar/?51 Rolo Smooth is the new name for Rolo Bar.

  2. JB says:

    Wow, I had no idea Rolo’s had been around so long. Good job, very comprehensive.

  3. Bradley Fechner says:

    Fantastic 100th post, a very good read and learnt a lot out of it, its great to see how the Rolo wrappers have transformed over time. Some really early wrappers there that look in real good nick. just outstanding!

  4. Brandon says:

    Good find on the Rolo mascots!

    Hey, I still remember that Rolo commercial with the “You can roll a Rolo…” jingle.

  5. Tom says:

    “Roll a Rolo to your Pal, it’c chocolate-covered cara-MAL!”

    My first knowledge of Rolos dates back to the late ’70’s and probably coincided with the above-referenced television commercial campaign.

    I’ve always been a fan of chocolate and caramel stemming back to my love of the Marathon bar. It’s still one of my favorites.

    p.s. I know it’s spelled “caramel”, but that’s how they sang it!

  6. Congrats on 100, Jason. And great article on one of my favorite candies.

    And you seriously need to try those Rolo Donuts. They sound AMAZING. I bet the Rolos with the cookie center were good.

    Pax

  7. Pingback: Whoops! I Missed a few Rolos! | CollectingCandy.com

  8. Gerald Chernicoff says:

    As a former district sales manager for Hershey, I introduced “ROLO” in March of 79 (as memory has it) to the Oklahoma test market. We had a winner along with SKOR and Whatchamacallit, which we successfully introduced there as well.

    Ask me some time about the secret ingredient to Whatchamacallit..and why it was such a big seller along the TexMex border :)

  9. Gary Winders says:

    I remember distinctly, as a young boy, early 60’s, buying mint rolo’s. I don’t remember them being German but I suppose it’s possible or perhaps they were a trial version tested in the midwest?

    • jasonliebig says:

      Gary,

      Interesting recollection. Well, it’s certainly possible. I would love to find hard evidence of their existence.

  10. Vincent Nash says:

    Rolos have been my favourite all my life, right through my early childhood in the 1960s in the Uk & ever since here in South Australia. Just recently about june 2013 Nestle Australia discontinued importing them here although they do produce the large bar which is a sweeter tasting recipe. I phoned their marketing manager & passed on my dissaproval in no uncertain terms. It is good atleast the rest of the world think rolo is still a winner even if Nestle Australia are a bunch of no hopers & numtys.Vincent.

  11. David says:

    Hi. I’m redoing a house and I found an advert in the paper (under the lino) selling Rolo’s. Wonder if you would be interested in a scan of it. The paper is dated 1939!!

  12. Food Porn says:

    Rolo donuts? My god.

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