Milk Duds – 86 Years and 40 different packages!

CC_Milk Duds Title Plate

Milk Duds is a confectionery classic that was first sold in 1926 by the Holloway company of Chicago.  It’s a pretty simple bit of candy as so many classics are; a chewy nugget of caramel surrounded by a tasty chocolatey coating.   Along with Hot Tamales, Milk Duds have always been one of my favorite movie theater go-to candies.

Over the years, I’ve picked up quite a variety of Milk Duds packages that dot their history, though most of what I have is from the last forty years.   So today and tomorrow, I’m going to share what I have and walk you through the pieces of Milk Duds history that my collection can shine a light on.  Today is what we’ll call the standard Milk Duds chapter and tomorrow it’s going to be the exotic Milk Duds brand extensions.

Unlike some brands that have seen dramatic changes in colorful packaging and mascots through the years, Milk Duds have been steady and reliable.  My earliest box is a yellow hue with brown logo, a look which is still largely the design the boxes retain to this day.

I’ll admit that it was this very consistency that, for a long time, kept me from giving much thought to the packaging or to putting much effort to collecting it.   These days I find that I can celebrate its consistency and the small tweaks it has experienced in its long life.

But consider this a warning: to the casual observer, you may find that many of the boxes I’m going to share with you today all start to look the same.  You have my permission to skim a bit, but if you are curious and want to take a closer look, you’ll note the many subtle design evolutions and company changes along the way.

The problem with this consistency in packaging style is that it often makes it difficult to precisely date a package.  I’ve spent a lot of time to narrow in on ways to define each period and where each design fits along the way.  I think I’ve created a pretty good roadmap for dating boxes of the 1970-2012 vintage.

First up is my earliest Milk Duds box.  This one came to me in great shape — so well-preserved in fact, that it’s hard to imagine just how old it is.  I like the Art Deco-ish stylings of this one:

Holloway's - Milk Duds - candy box - 1930's 1940's

Holloway’s – Milk Duds – candy box – 1930’s 1940’s

Following is a similar box that incorporates illustrations of the Milk Duds themselves.  Still retaining much of the look of that earlier box, I determined that this one was later as it included a trademark next to the logo that the previous box lacked.

Holloway's - Milk Duds - candy box - 1940's 1950's

Holloway’s – Milk Duds – candy box – 1940’s 1950’s

It is at this point in the timeline of Milk Duds packaging that I must do a bit of hand-waving.

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What I know is, is that the Beatrice company purchased Holloway in 1960, though it continued to operate under its original name into the late 1970’s.  I will speculate that the box design seen below might have been one initiated due to the ownership change, though that is merely speculation.  The next image of a box I have in my files is from 1963, and by that time it was sporting a very different look than the early, scripted logo style box.  This more rigid logo is a design that Milk Duds would carry, off and on, for the next twenty years.

1963 Milk Duds box - Candy Trade Ad - 1963

1963 Milk Duds box – Candy Trade Ad – 1963

Though it’s from a number of years later, I have a very similar design box from the early 1970’s:

Holloway's - Milk Duds 10-cent  1 1 4 oz candy box - 1970's

Holloway’s – Milk Duds 10-cent 1 1 4 oz candy box – 1970’s

In 1971, Holloway did a baseball card promotion that is likely responsible for the survival of more vintage Milk Duds boxes for that year than all others combined.  As a collector, you could consider this the first candy box I ever collected, though I was technically collecting Pete Rose cards when I picked it up.

Holloway Milk Duds - MLB Pete Rose card box - 1971

Holloway Milk Duds – MLB Pete Rose card box – 1971

Though they would later bear the Clark name, in 1972, both D.L. Clark and Holloway were held under the parent company of Beatrice, as you can see in this candy trade magazine ad.  I should note, this ad shows us a Milk Duds box with the Good Housekeeping seal — that’s a box I’ve never come across before:

Beatrice - Milk Duds & Clark - candy trade ad - February 1972

Beatrice – Milk Duds & Clark – candy trade ad – February 1972

 

From here things were a little iffy when I first started because many late 70’s Milk Duds boxes look quite similar to the early 70’s boxes.    I finally determined reliable groupings using whether or not boxes had UPC codes or not, among other things.

Here’s another early 70’s variety box:

Holloway's - Milk Duds 10-cent  1 3_8 oz candy box - 1970's

Holloway’s – Milk Duds 10-cent 1 3.8 oz candy box – 1970’s

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By 1974, Milk Duds would receive a significant packaging redesign.  For a long time, this box design was difficult for me to track down, a quest which I discussed back in March for my Wacky Wednesdays Milk Muds post.

Here’s what the redesigned box looked like:

Holloway - Milk Duds - candy box - mid-1970's

Holloway – Milk Duds – candy box – mid-1970’s

Holloway - Milk Duds - More Chocolate Taste - candy box - mid-1970's

Holloway – Milk Duds – More Chocolate Taste – candy box – mid-1970’s

Here’s a Milk Duds 9oz Juniors package featuring this mid-70’s design.

Holloway - Milk Duds Juniors - 9oz multi-pack candy bag - mid-1970's

Holloway – Milk Duds Juniors – 9oz multi-pack candy bag – mid-1970’s

I’ve got one of those Juniors boxes, but I’m saving it for the end of today’s post.

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By 1977, the logo for Milk Duds would be revised back to the way it looked in 1972.  I’m not sure why this change was made, only that it was.

The previous redesigned box featured a “More Chocolate Taste” call-out, so I think it makes sense that when they returned to the more traditional logo design, boxes featuring that same call-out were the first ones 0n shelves:

Beatrice - Holloway - Milk Duds - 10-cent .81oz candy box - 1976-1977

Beatrice – Holloway – Milk Duds – 10-cent .81oz candy box – 1976-1977

Beatrice - Holloway - Milk Duds - More Chocolate Taste - 1 1.2 oz candy box - late 1970's

Beatrice – Holloway – Milk Duds – More Chocolate Taste – 1 1.2 oz candy box – late 1970’s

Beatrice - Holloway - Milk Duds - Famous Holloway Caramels - 1 1.2 oz candy box - late 70's

Beatrice – Holloway – Milk Duds – Famous Holloway Caramels – 1 1.2 oz candy box – late 70’s

 Here’s a fun box that featured a mail-away for a Milk Duds t-shirt.  I’ve determined this box was on sale in 1978:

Beatrice - Holloway - Milk Duds - 10-cent candy box flat - T-Shirt offer - 1978

Beatrice – Holloway – Milk Duds – 10-cent candy box flat – T-Shirt offer – 1978

Here are a few more late 70’s boxes:

Beatrice - Holloway - Milk Duds long candy box - 1970's

Beatrice – Holloway – Milk Duds long candy box – 1970’s

Beatrice - Holloway - Milk Duds - 1.75oz candy box - 1978

Beatrice – Holloway – Milk Duds – 1.75oz candy box – 1978

Beatrice - Holloway - Milk Duds - 25-cent 1.65oz candy box - 1979

Beatrice – Holloway – Milk Duds – 25-cent 1.65oz candy box – 1979

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By 1980, the Holloway name would be removed from boxes, as the D.L. Clark company would be the parent confectioner in charge of their production, but still under Beatrice.  This first one actually replaces Holloway with Clark in the slogan “Famous Clark Caramels”:

Beatrice - Clark - Milk Duds candy box - 1979/1980

Beatrice – Clark – Milk Duds candy box – 1979/1980

Here are the other D.L. Clark Milk Duds boxes I have:

Beatrice - DL Clark - Milk Duds - Famous Caramels - 1.4oz candy box - 1980

Beatrice – DL Clark – Milk Duds – Famous Caramels – 1.4oz candy box – 1980

 

Beatrice - DL Clark - Milk Duds -  0.7 oz candy box - 1981

Beatrice – DL Clark – Milk Duds – 0.7 oz candy box – 1981

Beatrice - DL Clark - Milk Duds - Famous Caramels - 2 oz candy box - 1982

Beatrice – DL Clark – Milk Duds – Famous Caramels – 2 oz candy box – 1982

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This next box from 1982 still features the D.L. Clark ownership, but now gone is any mention of Beatrice.

DL Clark - Milk Duds - 15% more candy - 1.61oz candy box - 1982

DL Clark – Milk Duds – 15% more candy – 1.61oz candy box – 1982

DL Clark - Milk Duds - Caramels with Real Milk Chocolate - 1.61 oz candy box - 1983

DL Clark – Milk Duds – Caramels with Real Milk Chocolate – 1.61 oz candy box – 1983

In 1983, the Clark company would merge with the Switzer company (best known for their licorice at the time) to form Switzer-Clark.  Here’s a trade ad showcasing the new combined company’s offerings:

Switzer-Clark candy trade magazine advertisement - 1984

Switzer-Clark candy trade magazine advertisement – 1984

From this point until a few years later, Milk Duds boxes had Switzer-Clark, Division of Leaf branding.

Leaf - Switzer-Clark - Milk Duds - Famous Caramels - 2.75 oz candy box - early-to-mid 1980's

Leaf – Switzer-Clark – Milk Duds – Famous Caramels – 2.75 oz candy box – early-to-mid 1980’s

Leaf - Switzer-Clark - Famous Caramels - 1.4 oz candy box - mid-1980's

Leaf – Switzer-Clark – Famous Caramels – 1.4 oz candy box – mid-1980’s

Leaf - Switzer-Clark - Milk Duds - Sweet Sounds Game - 2oz candy box - 1985

Leaf – Switzer-Clark – Milk Duds – Sweet Sounds Game – 2oz candy box – 1985

The Leaf Switzer-Clark period also saw the release of something that they’d done years earlier; Learn-to-Spell Milk Duds juniors.  I’ve always thought these were pretty cool. Here’s the package:

Milk Duds Famous Caramels Juniors - Learn to Spell Boxes - candy bag - 1970's or 1980's

Milk Duds Famous Caramels Juniors – Learn to Spell Boxes – candy bag – 1970’s or 1980’s

And here are the different of Learn-to-Spell Juniors boxes I’ve acquired over the years.  I’m a long way from having the full alphabet:

Milk Duds Juniors - Learn to Spell boxes - 1970's 1980's

Milk Duds Juniors – Learn to Spell boxes – 1970’s 1980’s

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From here, it’s on to the late 80’s, when Switzer-Clark became simply, Leaf.

Leaf - Milk Duds - 1.4 oz candy box - late 1980's

Leaf – Milk Duds – 1.4 oz candy box – late 1980’s

Leaf - Milk Duds - New Milk Chocolate - MLB All-Star Game - 1.61oz candy box - 1988-89

Leaf – Milk Duds – New Milk Chocolate – MLB All-Star Game – 1.61oz candy box – 1988-89

Leaf - Milk Duds - Now 15-percent more - 1.85 oz candy box - 1992

Leaf – Milk Duds – Now 15-percent more – 1.85 oz candy box – 1992

During this period, Leaf put out Elf-branded boxes for the holidays, though all I have to show of them is this snapshot of an 1993 industry trade.  I’d like to find one of these:

Milk Duds with Christmas Elf Mascots 1993

Milk Duds with Christmas Elf Mascots 1993

The last of the Leaf-branded boxes I have comes from 1995-96:

Leaf - Milk Duds - 1.85oz candy box - 1995

Leaf – Milk Duds – 1.85oz candy box – 1995

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From this point, we move onto the Hershey period in Milk Duds’ evolution.  The boxes now start bringing attention to how much Milk Duds are lower in fat than other similar candies.  The earliest box I have starts out with a 40% claim, though subsequent boxes reduce that to 35% and 33%:

Hershey's - Milk Duds - 40-percent less fat - 1.85 oz candy box - Late 1990's Early 2000's

Hershey’s – Milk Duds – 40-percent less fat – 1.85 oz candy box – Late 1990’s Early 2000’s

Hershey's - Milk Duds - 35-percent less fat - 1.85 oz candy box - 2011

Hershey’s – Milk Duds – 35-percent less fat – 1.85 oz candy box – 2011

The most recent version of the standard box drops the Hershey logo from the front.

Hershey - Milk Duds - 1.85 oz candy box - 2012

Hershey – Milk Duds – 1.85 oz candy box – 2012

I have a pair of recent movie theater Milk Duds boxes and I’m happy to report that they’ve gone from “chocolatey” to actual “chocolate” – always a welcome change:

Hershey's - Milk Duds - Chocolatey Covered Caramels - movie theater candy box - 2009

Hershey’s – Milk Duds – Chocolatey Covered Caramels – movie theater candy box – 2009

Hershey's - Milk Duds - made with Chocolate & Caramel - movie theater candy box - 2012

Hershey’s – Milk Duds – made with Chocolate & Caramel – movie theater candy box – 2012

Whew!  If you’re still following along, we’ve just tracked 35 different Milk Duds boxes over 80 years.

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I’m going to close with a pair of fun pieces.  The first is a Milk Duds Christmas Holiday box, which is part of a larger series of boxes that have been on sale the last few years.  They are made to look like elements of a tiny Christmas village.  The Milk Duds is the post office.

Hershey's - Milk Duds - Christmas village Post Office candy box - Holiday 2010

Hershey’s – Milk Duds – Christmas village Post Office candy box – Holiday 2010

Last, but not least – I wanted to showcase a mini-timeline of mini boxes.  Here are Milk Duds Juniors boxes spanning the early 70’s through to the early 90’s:

Milk Duds Juniors boxes - 1970's - 1990's

Milk Duds Juniors boxes – 1970’s – 1990’s

And that is everything for today’s post.   I told you it was going to be a biggie!

Tomorrow I’ll be back with a much shorter, much more exotic post.  I’ll be wrapping up this topic by covering the flavorful brand extensions of Milk Duds I’ve collected, showcasing no less than three pieces of packaging which have never been seen anywhere on the internet before!  You won’t want to miss it!

See ya next time!

 

 

 

 

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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5 Responses to Milk Duds – 86 Years and 40 different packages!

  1. Kevin says:

    Fascinating to watch the cost-cutting changes while this product is manufactured on Hershey’s watch. Specifically: eliminating real milk chocolate. The Hershey’s era starts out proudly stating “Milk Chocolate Covered Caramels” on the box, with actual milk chocolate listed in the ingredients. Then we transition to “MADE WITH Chocolate & Caramel,” and milk chocolate mysteriously disappears from the ingredients. What do we see added instead? Vegetable oil, ugh!!

    • jasonliebig says:

      Well, it’s not quite that simple. Back in the 1970’s, they were only using “chocolate-flavored” coating. It’s Clark in the early 1980’s who starts using real milk chocolate again.

      Hershey continues that, then backs down with Chocolatey (code for not real chocolate) but then brings back actual chocolate in 2012 (at least in the theater packages). Though Chocolate is better then Chocolatey, it’s not the same as Milk Chocolate.

      Milk Duds were chocolate-covered in the 1930’s, they weren’t in the 1970’s, but then were MILK chocolate covered in the 1990’s , then weren’t, now are chocolate-covered again.

      I would also point out that, in the 1930’s, the very first ingredient was corn syrup.

  2. Pingback: Milk Duds’ Exotic Brand Extensions – Saga of the Fruit-Flavored Duds and More! | CollectingCandy.com

  3. Brandon says:

    Milk Duds have always been my go-to movie candy, too. Well also Dots, when I’m not in a chocolatey mood.

    I wish Milk Duds had had a mascot at some point in the history, but I also appreciate the relative consistency in their brand’s look over the decades. Nice post.

  4. Pingback: Q&A With America's #1 Candy Wrapper Collector and Historian

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