A Walk Through Whoppers Packaging History!

Whoppers malted milk balls – they’re a candy classic that’s been around in one form or another since 1939.

Because they’ve been around so long, they’re a daunting topic to tackle – and the task to cover them proved to be even more challenging and time-consuming than I expected.   I spent several nights going over packaging, thinking I was done, only to realize that I’d forgotten a piece.   Then I remembered the volumes of trade magazines I had to search through to ensure I wasn’t missing any cool ads or info.

Finally, I have it all here – so without further delay, let’s get to this Whopper.

As I said, Whoppers have been around since 1939.  That was the year the Overland company introduced a product called Giants, which were a larger version of their Malt-etts, a malted milk ball confection.

Overland candy company logo – 1940’s

While I don’t have any images of Overland’s Giants, I do have an image of a pre-Leaf box for Malt-etts.

Overland – Malt-etts candy box – 1940’s

By 1950, Overland would merge with Leaf Brands, after which Giants would be renamed to Whoppers.  Here’s an early look at a Leaf-branded Malt-etts box:

Leaf – Malt-etts candy box – 1952

In the early days of Whoppers they were sold loose out of boxes.  You would get two for a penny.  Believe-it-or-not, they were not individually wrapped – you just grabbed two out of a box and plunked down your penny.  Here’s a Leaf trade ad from 1963 that shows one of these penny-candy Whopper boxes:

Leaf trade ad from 1963

As you can see, the “strong-man” mascot was already featured on packages in 1963.  I’m not sure when that mascot was first introduced, perhaps he goes back to Whoppers introduction, but for now, this is the earliest known image.

It was during the 1960’s when Whoppers were first sold in cello tubes.  Here’s a clipping from a 1967 trade ad, showing one of the early cello packages:

Whoppers cello pack photo from 1967 trade ad

I recall buying Whoppers in the 1970’s in those great old cello tubes (and in the milk carton style packages).  Leaf used the cello tubes for Whoppers until the early 80’s, and they also used them for Leaf’s Rain-Blo bubble gum.    While I haven’t seen Whoppers in cello tubes for decades, you can still find Rain-Blo bubble gum sold in them today.

Also from the late 60’s era, here are a pair of trade clippings featuring Leaf’s Halloween Whopper offerings:

Leaf – Whoppers polybag – Halloween 1967

Whoppers Halloween display box packaging – 1970

I love the look of the Halloween decal/sticker that was added to the Whoppers display box.  Would love to track one down, but I’ve never seen one.

Moving into the very early 70’s and my earliest actual examples of Whoppers packaging,  here’s the earliest cello pack I have:

Leaf – Whoppers – Malted Milk Balls – cello package – early 1970’s

That version is very similar to those used in the 1960’s… and likely only lasted a year into the 1970’s.  Here’s a later one that still features the strong man mascot, but a slightly different design:

Leaf – Whoppers Malted Milk Balls candy cello bag – 1970’s

I love the strong man mascot packaging used back then, and here’s a small poly bag package featuring the same:

Leaf – Whoppers Malted Milk Balls candy small bag – 1970’s

Also appearing in the 1970’s are “bite-sized” Whoppers.  These look to be the Malt-etts of old, but now featuring the Whoppers branding:

Leaf – Whoppers Malted Milk Balls – bite-size – candy box – 1970’s

The early 70’s are notable for Whoppers evolution, as I believe they saw the introduction of the first flavored Whoppers with 1970’s Strawberry variety:

Leaf – Whoppers – New Flavor – Strawberry – trade clipping – November 1971

The cartons pictured in that piece are a couple of my favorites, and in my collection I am fortunate to have examples of both.  These might have been the earliest milk-carton style packages for Whoppers:

Leaf – Whoppers candy 200-count carton – 1972

Leaf – Strawberry Flavored Whoppers candy 200-count carton – 1972

In 1975, the Whopper strong man mascot would be retired and replaced with a more graphical design:

Leaf – Whoppers – malted milk balls – 1 14 oz cello candy package – 1975

I dig that color swoop graphic as well as the fun typeface used for the logo that they introduced in the mid-70’s.  I had known about this design for some years, but only tracked down examples of it a few months ago.   As you might expect, I was pretty jazzed to add them to my collection.   Here’s a front-and-back scan of one of the boxes featuring this design:

Leaf- Whoppers – candy box – 1975-1976

Here’s a trade ad from Leaf that came out in December of 1976.  If you look toward the right on this one, you’ll note that there is a package called “Super Whoppers”.  I’m not quite sure what made that package super.  Perhaps it was simply that it was a large package.

December 1976 Leaf Trade ad

Another trade ad from the following year still features Whoppers with the color swoop design.  This must have been toward the end of the color swoop package design, as it was soon to be replaced:

Leaf trade ad – October 1977

Another fun bit of information I found was that in 1977, it would appear Whoppers were offered in peanut butter flavor (peanut butter flavored Whoppers would come out again three decades later, as you’ll see below):

March 1977 trade clipping highlight – PB Whoppers

It was late in 1977 that the first redesigned Whoppers packages first started showing up – it’s a design sense that will likely be familiar to many of you:

Leaf – Whoppers -Real Malted Milk – 1.34 oz No Grams – candy package – 1977

Once this design hit, it remained largely unchanged for many years.  I have several examples of packaging from this period, though I’m not 100% certain where each piece falls in the evolution.

Soon, grams were added to the product weight information printed on the front, as well as a Whoppers recipe:

Leaf – Whoppers -Real Malted Milk – 1.34 oz 50g – candy package – 1978

Leaf – Whoppers -Real Malted Milk – 1 34 oz 50g – candy package – 1978

I don’t have any of the large cartons from this period, but I do have two sizes and versions of boxes:

Leaf – Whoppers – Old Fashioned Malted Milk – 2 12 oz candy box – 1970’s

Leaf – Whoppers – Old Fashioned Malted Milk – 1 38 oz candy box – 1978

Not to be left out, here are two sizes of Whoppers cello tubes, also from the late 70’s era:

Leaf – Whoppers – 1.14 oz cello tube candy package – 1970’s

Leaf – Whoppers – short cello tube candy package – 1970’s

And here’s a large, 7 oz poly bag from this period:

Leaf Whoppers – 7 oz polybag package – 1981

The next evolution of packaging was a minor one, but worth noting.  In 1982, the small poly package increased its size from 1 3/4 oz, to 2 oz size.  To bring attention to that fact, a banner was added to packages:

Leaf – Whoppers – 2 oz – New Larger Size – candy package – 1982

In 1984, the logo for Whoppers would get a slight update, as written about in this trade clipping:

Whoppers – Logo Update trade clipping – March 1984

Here’s a trade ad from that same year, also featuring the updated logo:

Whoppers – Big Taste trade ad – January 1984

I do have one example of packaging featuring that logo treatment, though mine has a later version of the Leaf logo than the introductory styles, so I’d place it a year or two later (1985-1987):

Leaf – Whoppers – Big-Big Taste – candy package – 1985-87

Around this same time, Canadian Whoppers featured a slightly different package design:

Canada – Leaf – Whoppers – candy package – 1980’s

Back to the United States, in 1988 the Whoppers logo underwent further changes:

Leaf – Whoppers – Win 25,000 MLB – candy package – 1988

That design, as well as the affiliation with Major League Baseball, lasted until 1991, as you can see by this package and promotion:

Leaf – Whoppers – MLB Team Cap Offer – candy package – 1991

In late 1991, the Whoppers logo received another big refresh (the MLB stuck around though):

Leaf – Whoppers – The Original Light and Crunchy – 1 75 oz candy package – 1991

The following year, the “light & crunchy” was removed from the packaging tagline:

In 1993, Whoppers received a very cool Christmas holiday edition packaging.  I don’t have an example of these but I do have this black-and-white image of a display box:

Whoppers Christmas Holiday packaging – trade clipping – May 1993

By the mid-1990’s the most notable change to Whoppers packages was the inclusion of the Nutrition Facts panel:

Leaf – Whoppers – Coca-Cola Classic Win Now – candy package – 1995

Leaf – Whoppers – Sam Goody Musicland Shopping Spree – candy package – 1996

At this point, my packaging knowledge jumps forward a bit, to the late 2000’s – the current era.  But even within this era, there are some interesting tidbits.

First, let me get to the design that graces the packages now on shelves:

Hershey’s – Whoppers – The Original Malted Milk Balls – candy box – 2012

As you can see, after having been produced by Leaf for decades, Whoppers are now a product of Hershey.   Hershey took on the Leaf line toward the end of 1996.

In my experience, today Whoppers are most often found in the 5 oz “theater-style” box seen above, but they’re still sold in a 12 oz carton as well as smaller poly bags.  Notably, since the late 2000’s, there are now three flavors of Whoppers available year-round: regular, strawberry milkshake, and Reese’s peanut butter.

Hershey’s – Whoppers – Strawberry Milkshake – candy box – 2012

Hershey’s – Whoppers – Reese’s Peanut Butter – candy box – 2012

Though I somehow missed them when they were out (drat!), just a few years ago, the Whoppers Milkshake flavors extended a bit further, at least during the Easter holiday.  Here are a pair of photos showing Whoppers in blueberry, vanilla, and orange creme milkshake flavors:

Whoppers – Vanilla and Blueberry Milkshake flavors 2009 – Source: The SugarHi blog.

Whoppers Milkshake Orange Creme flavor – 2009 – Image source: Candy For Dinner Blog.

Somehow I missed out on that trio of awesome Whoppers releases back in 2009.  It just goes to show that even when you routinely hunt for candy stuff, you can miss some really neat ones!  The packaging for those three are now on my want list, if anyone ever comes across them.

I do have a few more fun pieces that don’t easily fit within the standard timeline, so they landed here at the end.

First up is a retro packaged Whoppers mini-carton I found at Wal-Mart back in 2008.  I almost passed this one over, but I’m glad I didn’t, as I never saw it again.  It features a re-drawn version of the classic Whoppers strong-man mascot:

Hershey – Whoppers Malted Milk Balls – retro candy box carton – 2008

Next up is an early 70’s cello pack for Leaf’s Sno-Balls:

Leaf – Malted Milk Sno-Balls – cello candy package – 1970’s

Sno-Balls were the Christmas-themed candy-coated cousin to Whoppers and these days when you find them they include Whoppers branding, as you can see on this Santa’s Workshop mini-carton from 2010:

Hershey – Whoppers – Sno-Balls – Santa’s Workshop holiday box – 2010

Lastly, an early 70’s example of a Leaf’s Speckled Eggs cello package – another seasonal Whoppers relative, and one worth including today:

Leaf – Malted Milk Speckled Eggs – cello candy package – 1970’s

And that’s everything I’ve got to share with you regarding my walk through Whoppers packaging history today.

There are likely many holiday editions I missed or don’t know about, as well as early packaging I simply have never found images or examples of.  There’s also the 1997-2007 era of Whoppers packaging that I don’t have, though I suspect it matches either the late 90’s or late 2008 versions I do.   Even with my extensive coverage, there’s much for me to continue to hunt for, so I will do so…

And that’s all – I gotta go take a nap!

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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4 Responses to A Walk Through Whoppers Packaging History!

  1. Brandon says:

    I love the logo on that ’75 box!

    I’m pretty sure I saved one of the Easter cartons from a few years ago.

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  4. I have Hershey products all over my home at any given
    time, even Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup and the Strawberry one too! Keep up the good work guys!

    Signed, Mr. Keith H. Henry
    P.S. my mom was born in
    Hershey Pennsylvania……….

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