When you are a collector of old candy wrappers and candy boxes, you quickly learn and have to accept that you’re collecting what most folks consider trash. Candy wrappers are discarded, not saved. Because of that fact, you look for and find them wherever you can. In a few instances, that means they still contain the original candy inside.
Now, when a candy wrapper gets saved, it’s usually by accident, and the same has to be said of an intact candy bar. Maybe a store closes down, and the shelves remain untouched and unclean – the candy bars just sit.
Two years ago, I took possession of six different unopened candy bars, originally produced for sale in 1980. I wanted the wrappers for my collection and wasn’t sure how I’d separate them, but I did know that when I did, I wanted to capture the contents on film. How often do you get to see a 30-year-old Snickers bar, after all?
So I put those bars in a box, where they remained until this weekend, when I pulled them out for today’s posting.
Since the time that I acquired the 1980 bars, I also picked up a 1988 Milky Way, as well as a UK Snickers bar (then called Marathon) from 1990. All of these, along with their contemporary counterparts, are the topic I’ll be covering today.
I know that, with old food, there is a particular curiosity and I’ve endeavored to include the photos I think most of you will want to see.
I began by photographing the main pieces, and their contemporary counterparts [Note: The contemporary examples are from 2011. Last Summer, I tracked those down and they've been waiting in my fridge ever since.]
I decided to start with one of my personal faves, the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
Having the hobby that I do, I am used to dealing with some occasionally old candy, but nothing quite like these. This first package was a little daunting. What would be in there? Some kind of rot, or dead bugs, or decades-old-mold?
Flipping the pack, we find…
Considering these are approaching the retirement age of most pro athletes, they didn’t look too bad. [Not sure what that dark spot is, though.]
For contrast, here’s another look, but with a current package included. When you look at the 1980 Reese’s relative to a new one, it isn’t looking so hot.
In an effort to be thorough, I wanted to get inside these.. to see how the innards aged.
Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? For the sake of expedience, I’m going to get through the rest of these in direct order. I’ll comment along as needed. First up… Snickers.
With the Snickers – I have my 1980 example, a current version, but I also have an intact 1990 Snickers bar from the UK – but in the UK, Snickers was called Marathon, at least until the late 1990’s, when they changed it to Snickers (this particular naming issue is something I plan to address in more depth – in another post down the road).
So we have three bars to get to know… and to dissect [insert mad-scientist laugh here].
I should point out that my end game is to end up with these vintage wrappers in my collection, but these were so brittle and sealed up that it was impossible to remove the contents without some damage occurring. Unfortunate, but I won’t keep full candy bars… except when I’m planning to publicly take them apart, of course.
You’ll notice some writing on the paper underneath, as well as some odd grease stains. The stains are from the bars, the 1980 Snickers was pretty dry, but the 1990 UK Marathon had a bit of a… sort of moist to it. The writings are my notes, so I could keep track of which bar was which. Next up, Milky Way.
For my Milky Way showcase, I again include three different bars. After I had acquired the 1980 assortment, I saw a listing on eBay for a 1988 Milky Way bar. The seller repaired and restored vending machines, and this was the bar that sat in the display window of a vintage machine, for the last twenty years. I won that auction, and today, it joins its Milky Way brethren in the scientific quest for knowledge.
The 1988 Milky Way was particularly brittle and crumbly, even more than the 1980 example. Clearly these things age differently, depending on environmental surroundings. Now to 3 Musketeers!
Finally, the two packs of M&M’s. I’ve seen old M&M’s that were just a few years’ old, and they get crumbly. What’s surprising here is that the peanut M&M’s from 1980 were in remarkably intact condition. Some of them looked almost new. Another thing to note is the lack of vibrant color shells in 1980. Back then, there were no red and no blue candy shells for M&M’s.
Another notable observation about these 1980 candy bars, was the UPC codes. Except for the Reese’s, all of the UPC’s of the 1980 bars matched their 2011 counterparts. So if one of these somehow managed to find it’s way into the candy isle at your local retailer, it would scan…
That’s the last of the comparison shots.
If I could share the sickly-sweet, yet somehow “off” smell of old chocolate, I would. It filled my living room as I shot these, and while it wasn’t the worst thing in the world, it wasn’t a happy aroma. I do this for you, curious reader.
After shooting these photos, I did place the ancient bars into ziploc bags. I plan on doing something else with them soon, and I’ll reveal that later. I’m also going to work on the removed wrappers in the next few days to get them presentable. Here’s how they looked at the end of the day.
In case those images are a little unpleasant, I wanted to round out today’s post with a view of the 1980 bars, the way I’d like to remember them…
[EDIT: I've since carefully flattened the wrappers recovered from these bars. You can see the results here.]