Brach’s-in-Bulk – Bite-Size and By-the-Bag – Old-School.

Growing up, one of my favorite spots at the grocery store was the Brach’s bulk candy or Pick-A-Mix area.  Decades before the modern bulk candy sections of super-stores, Brach’s kept the old-fashioned general store feeling alive with their candy sales areas.

Encouraging you to grab a bag and fill it up, the Brach’s kiosks offered a great way to get a nice variety of treats.  These diminutive delights were varied to my young palette, with some becoming lifelong favorites, while others remaining exotic strangers I would never get to know.

Some of you out there might remember the Brach’s areas in grocery stores as easy prey for “sampling hands”.  And I suppose they were good for that, too.  Though I never sampled off-the-books.  I was not a confectionery crook.  Though I recall friends of mine that were.

As a candy collector, the Brach’s bulk offerings don’t present an obvious appeal.  Typically lacking any kind of colorful wrapper, logo, or mascot (there are exceptions), the visual appeal of these cello wrapped treats was a combination of the color and shape of the goodies they contained.

So, as a collector, I was fortunate when I came upon a salesman display of Brach’s bulk offerings, from the era of my childhood, the 1970’s.  All presented as they were from my candy-isle memories.

Brach’s – bulk candy salesman display – 1970’s

When I first found this display, I will admit to a bit of surprise and wonderment, at the condition of the candy it contained.  As I will later showcase here on CollectingCandy.com, after a certain number of years, most candy goes bad.  Let me rephrase that; it doesn’t go bad… it goes downright evil.   So, when I look at this, even now (it hangs in my living room), I am mystified as to why the candy appears as if it was plucked out of 1976.

I have theorized that the lack of confectionery-decomposition might be due to some kind of lacquering applied by the company for the sales kits – or perhaps it is simply a case of the pieces aging well.  I honestly don’t know, and I’m not able to do any more investigation without risk of damage to the pieces as they are.

Several childhood favorites are represented within the display, and I’d like to highlight a few – while also providing you a glimpse of these goodies you aren’t likely to see anywhere else.

Brach’s Cinnamon Bear – 1970’s

Brach’s Cinnamon Bears, or “giant” cinnamon bears as I called them, were a great bit of candy.  Being cinnamon, they were an automatic favorite of mine.

I’m especially fond of the Cinnamon Bear piece from the display.  When I look at the typeface and logo on that tiny cellophane wrapper, it takes me right back to that childhood grocery store, and countless candy bowls.  These bears were also large enough that, biting the head off of them provided a satisfying amount of chewy cinnamon, all by itself.

Brach’s Cinnamon Disc – 1970’s

It is at this point you may have realized that I love cinnamon candies – I won’t apologize for it.  I hope I’m not boring you with them.  A-hem.

Brach’s Cinnamon Discs were the treats I would typically cherry pick out of my grandmother’s candy dish, or your grandmother’s candy dish, or your aunt’s.  I’ll admit it, there was a time that if you allowed me into your home, I’d liberate it of any and all cinnamon discs.  I still might.

At first blush, there’s not much going on design-wise with these little wrappers, but they still have the power to evoke a memory.   When I see the same candies now, in their current modern wrapper, they do remain appealing and certainly delicious.  But there is something powerful about seeing them as you first had them, so long ago.  There is for me, at least.

Brach’s Butterscotch Discs – 1970’s

Once again, nothing too remarkable about the look or design for the similarly-packaged Butterscotch Disc, and yet it comes together for a powerful golden glow of goodness.  These were the safe-but-sweet alternative to those hot cinnamon discs.

Brach’s Coconut Hawaiian and Brach’s Caramel – 1970’s

Moving past the Coconut Hawaiian – I was never a fan of coconut candies as a kid (admittedly that has changed as my tastes have broadened) – so I’ve included it here only because it shared a chamber with the caramel.

Brach’s Caramels were another favorite.  Easy to confuse with Kraft caramel squares, these were melt-in-your-mouth good, and likely responsible for at least a few of my early cavities.

Brach’s Royals – 1970’s

Back in the day, I don’t think I quite understood Brach’s Royals.  I know I liked some of the flavors, but the others I wasn’t a fan of.  I would pick around the flavors I didn’t like, inspecting the foil wrapping, and when realizing it wasn’t “a good one”, I’d toss it back into the bowl, or wherever they were offered.

Over the holidays a few months ago, I saw the contemporary version of these (thanks to the return and relaunch of the Brach’s brand) and picked up a bag.  I found that these days, I love them all.  The colored foil on these vintage examples are striking in person, and they are probably some of the few Brach’s bulk-packaged pieces wrappers that could easily stand on their own, sans-candy.

Brach’s Perkys – 1970’s

Okay, Brach’s Perky’s were never my go-to Brach’s item.  I’m highlighting them here primarily because, at a point, they were sold in the regular candy isle, as well as the bulk.  I have an ad to prove it.

That’s a great little package for Perkys…

This ad directly and slavishly mocked a Chuckles ad from the era, but I’m saving that comparison for another time.

Wrapping up with some flavorful Brach’s goodness – here’s a lovely Brach’s magazine advertisement from 1960.

Brach’s candy ad – Summer 1960

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+
This entry was posted in 1970's and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Brach’s-in-Bulk – Bite-Size and By-the-Bag – Old-School.

  1. Dan B says:

    I don’t know about hard candy’s shelf life, but gum has an incredibly long shelf life…I found a stash of gum in my great grandmother’s stuff that was over 100 years old…she dated some of them on the wrapper…I certainly would feel safe eating it, but the fact that it wasn’t decomposed was pretty amazing to me.

    • jasonliebig says:

      Dan. Well yes, some gum, but not all.
      Stick gum, like Wrigleys, and some others like Bazooka, do dry up and then age well.
      However, soft chunk gum like Bubble Yum can start to turn into a kind of syrup. While I’ve had packs that turn into stable, dried-up bricks, others have begun seeping from the packaging folds. I’ll be getting into this a lot more in a future posting, with photos and my attempts to turn back the tide of packs that have already turned.

  2. Johanna says:

    Just a quick note to tell you that the blog looks fantastic! Well done! I’ve been following your Flickr site for some time, and your wonderful collection of vintage packaging is very creatively inspiring! Thanks for all you do.

    • jasonliebig says:

      Thanks, Johanna. It’s been tremendous fun so far. I’m looking forward to using the blog format to bring together pieces that have been posted to my Flickr over the years, and wrangling them into cohesive slices of confectionery history.

  3. Gavin says:

    My great grandmother used to buy me Brach’s caramels and I would eat them while watching The Muppet Show while playing with Legos. My buddy Greg would “five finger discount” from the Brach’s display at the local Walgreens but I never did. I remember those little metal coin boxes they had if you wanted to pay for a sample. How many people actually put coins in there?

  4. Jay M says:

    This is one of those things that sparks a memory but I can’t quite remember if I had these ones. Great packaging tho. 🙂 Great Site BTW, I love the design of old candy. Hope this site lasts for a long time. Cheers

  5. Dennis says:

    MMM…I notice the coffee candy on top of the the 3rd row from the left. Good stuff. Reminds me of my mom….my brother and dad did not care for it…left it all for us.

  6. Cinnamon Bear! Wow, I haven’t had one of those in quite some time!!

  7. Tom says:

    You didn’t feature the chocolate covered cremes that appear at the bottom left of the sampler. To me, as a child, those were always like getting a cheap version of Russell Stover’s which only made it into our home at Christmastime, but I loved them. From left is the Chocolate covered cherry creme, one of the two in the center was a maple creme if I recall correctly, not sure about the other, and the last was chocolate covered mint which was like a thicker York Peppermint patty. The fruit nougats were always an oddity to me. Oh I’d eat them, but always a last choice. The Sparkles were never as good as I thought they should be. I guess I was expecting a Jolly Rancher. Butterscotches and cinnamon discs will always remind me of my grandmother’s house as she always had those sitting out in a dish alongside a bowl of mint spears.

  8. Man, I love Brach’s if only for the nostalgic images it conjures of trips to the Western Supermarket by my house in Hoover, AL. Their butterscotch and peppermint discs were awesome.

    I loved the Royals, except for the crap-ass Maple flavor. I think Vanilla was my favorite. But I’m a big caramel fan.

    Great article and great images, Jason.

  9. Tony Wolf says:

    I freakin’ loved those jelly nougats. I remember getting the packs that had those as part of an assortment, and those rare times I could an all-jelly nougat package. And plus, the word ‘nougat’ is just so awesome. NOUGAT!! SAY IT WITH ME! 🙂

  10. Tony Wolf says:

    by the way, “Chocolate Jots” is a hilarious name and clearly just an M&M knockoff, right ? (The exclamation point candy featured above in the “Fresh!” ad)

  11. Jon H.Prince says:

    Dynamite Article!

    There are few candies that occupy such a space in the history of candy as Brachs does and having sold this brand for over 70 years, we have seen the packaging and advertising change on a regular basis. Despite all, Brachs remain one of most brand loyal candies available.

  12. Kat says:

    I just wanted to say I enjoyed seeing your collection! Brought back a lot of old memories growing up in the early 70s! Thank You.

  13. Pingback: Hot Week: Cinnamon Teddy Bears! | CollectingCandy.com

  14. BAMBI STEWART says:

    My question is Why did they stop putting the bulk displays out of the stores? We use to be able to go and choose the different candies we wanted and pay for them by the pound. I loved that because you could choose the candies you liked the best and get a wide assortment. Those were the days. I miss them. I am just curious as to why we can no longer buy them in them in the sotres

    • Jason Liebig says:

      Bambi,

      Brach’s Pick-A-Mix bulk displays are still around, but I don’t see them in every grocery store like they used to be back in the day. Even so, I still run across stores that devote a whole section to Pick-A-Mix. So they’re still out there, but much harder to track down.

      Brach’s is doing a lot of new marketing these days so hopefully that could mean a more widespread return of the bulk displays. We can hope!

  15. Candy fan says:

    The chocolates on the bottom left, I cannot find those anywhere! I would give anything to bite into that creamy vanilla tasting soft sugar center! I lived for those when I was a kid! Anyone know if they are discontinued?

    • Jason Liebig says:

      Candy Fan – Unfortunately, I don’t believe Brach’s “Assorted Wrapped Chocolates” have been in production in many many years. So yes, unfortunately they have long been discontinued. -Jason

    • Joe says:

      I saw them as recently as the early 2000’s in my local Hannaford grocery store. Alas, I’m also pretty sure they are no longer made. Brach’s Assorted Wrapped Chocolates flavors were vanilla, maple, orange, raspberry creme, cherry nougat, and vanilla caramel.

      • Jason Liebig says:

        Thanks for the comment, Joe. I didn’t think they were around even that long. That’s pretty cool. I wonder how they were packaged at that point – do you recall? Still wax paper-type wrappers?

        You can see the individual flavors on page 5 of my 1972 Brach’s chocolates sales catalog here:

        http://www.collectingcandy.com/wordpress/?p=15798

        • Joe says:

          Hey! Whadya know!! The reason I ended up here and commented above is cuz I was looking for the place I originally saw that catalog page scan a few years ago. I was cleaning out my desk today and found a scribble on a sticky note with the 6 flavors and even the 737 catalog number. Thanks for the link. It was you all along.
          The year my daughter was born (late 2000) I moved to an upstate NY town and discovered that the local Hannaford sold them loose in bins. (I don’t recall if it was a Brach’s Pick-a-Mix type of display.) I had not seen them in many years at that point and was excited to be able to enjoy again one of my favorite candies from my youth. Within a few years (maybe less – I don’t recall the exact end date), though, they were no longer sold.
          They still had the same wax wrapper, same design and colors. Also, same recipe, I guess, because I noticed again that as they got old, they got harder. I could tell the freshest from the oldest. I still liked them as they got harder!
          I sure miss them. (I also miss Fudgetown cookies!)

      • I would give anything for a maple wrapped choclate RIGHT NOW!

  16. Paul says:

    With your knowledge of candy I hope you can help me. In the early 80’s my grandmother use to give me cinnamon discs and butterscotch discs that had a cream filling in the center. I could have sworn they were brach’s but I can’t find a single trace of them on the internet. I can except the fact that they may have been discontinued but I need see if anyone else remembers them.

  17. Angela Lowry says:

    I have been talking about, and searching for, the Brach’s coffee candy for almost two decades and could not even prove i didn’t make them up to family and friends. Are these still around worth, maybe, a different packaging? This is an amazing walk down memory lane. Excellent job!

  18. Dani says:

    I’ve been scouring the interwebz trying to find the chocolate covered mint cremes of my childhood dreams … sadly it seems I will not get to have these again as I find they are discontinued. Well, at least I have an answer. Guess I’ll have to make do with mint patties … sigh. So much for nostalgia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *