As I mentioned yesterday, on February 6th 2012, CollectingCandy.com officially launched. To celebrate this first birthday, I’ve gone back over the site’s 293 entries posted so far and have selected fifteen of my favorites to highlight and discuss. Let’s get to ’em.
The Big League Chew retrospective piece was CollectingCandy.com’s launch post and to this day it remains the most well-researched and in-depth piece I’ve ever done. The reasons are two-fold:
First, I spent the better part of a year researching the history and people behind Big League Chew before launching this site. Since then, I’ve only had a day or two to produce a post.
Secondly, it is unusual to have such a brand that is both well-known while also providing reasonable access to its creators. With the Big League Chew piece, I was able to track down and interview all of the players involved in its creation; Rob Nelson who invented it, his business partner Jim Bouton who helped turn Rob’s creation into a confectionery classic, as well as Bill Mayer, the artist who created the unforgettable Big League Chew mascot characters.
More than anything else, those aspects still make the Big League Chew Retrospective the first post I’ll want to show someone if they’re only looking at one of CollectingCandy.com’s posts.
The tale of the 30-year-old Snickers bar (as well as a number of others) was one I’d been waiting to tell for a while. About two years before CollectingCandy.com launched, I had acquired a few decades-old Mars candy bars — with the candy still in them.
I got them because I wanted the wrappers for my collection, but I thought it was so unusual (and a bit gross) that the original chocolate remained, that I decided to save them to do something special with later on.
That something special turned out to be this post, a piece that took me the better part of twelve hours to shoot and write. And for a couple of days it filled my apartment with the dark aroma of long-since-fallen chocolate.
The Wonka Daredevils piece was one of the posts I’d been most excited about personally. The reason is that I’d been hunting for a Willy Wonka Daredevils candy box, for years. And not just a box, but I’d been hunting for a photo, a blurry image, or any scrap of information about them.
When I finally added a vintage Daredevils candy box to my collection, it made the perfect event to write about.
The Daredevils post is notable to the development of a style element of CollectingCandy.com, as it was the first time I began to consider the idea of what I call a “CollectingCandy.com Exclusive”.
The fact is, most of what I show here on the site can’t be found anywhere else, but in some cases like the Daredevils, I’m showing something that is the only image or scrap of evidence that a product or brand ever existed, anywhere.
That scarcity of information aspect that is a part of so much of candy history is something I wanted to highlight and have fun with, and so the “CollectingCandy.com Exclusive” moniker was born.
Assembling together a history of Fun Dip was not an easy thing. Like so much of candy, the packaging is almost entirely non-existent. It’s such a beloved brand that I was determined to get it right and cover every part of the history that I conceivable could. Fortunately, with the help of a number of other collectors, I was able to present a nearly complete timeline of the brand.
At the time, it was the most detailed packaging timeline I’d created, and it remains one of the most difficult that I’ve assembled. CollectingCandy.com’s historical packaging timelines are probably the most striking things I’ve created along the year. Seeing, in one image, how a package has evolved over the years is pretty neat, even if you don’t care a lick about candy.
Because they require an expansive swath of packaging reference, and a good deal of time to assemble, I don’t do as many timelines as I’d ideally want to. But I’m dedicated to bring more of these to life.
Unveiling these original Wonka bar wrappers for the first time, here on the site, was pretty special for me. These were a selection of wrappers from a beloved brand (Wonka) that only a few folks remembered, though most had never heard of. Images of these had never been shown online and even the few folks I knew who collected Wonka material did not recall these.
I always get a bit of extra excitement when I’m working on a post that will showcase a piece of candy history that would otherwise be lost and largely forgotten. It’s a big part of what this site is all about and it’s certainly why this post remains one of my favorites.
This Whoppers history post is the kind of post that I’m always happy to get done. It’s a major brand with a huge history, and it’s one that I’m fortunate to have a lot of material on. So getting it all out there is a nice little achievement.
It’s exciting to share it, but I also find that I don’t ever quite know how all of the packaging fits into a timeline until I start to sit down to write it. I had dozens of pieces as reference for this post and the major design changes are easy to spot. But since the late 1970’s, Whoppers packaging has gone through a series of subtle, evolutionary tweaks, rather than any kind of major overhaul.
A post like this, with around fifty different packages to reference from, can take a dozen or more hours of work to produce. It’s lots of scanning and photoshop, and more scanning. So by the time it comes to share it, I’m exited to have it seen by others, but I’m also excited to be at the finish line. Whew!
My Wonka Weekend wasn’t just a single post, but a series of posts about the two original brands launched under the Wonka name: Oompas and Super Skrunch. I had planned for it to just be a two-parter but it turned into more.
My reason for inclusion as favorite posts is partly my passion for the history of the Wonka brand but also because I had managed to build a pretty complete packaging timeline of both of these brands. And not long ago I would have thought that impossible. The Wonka Weekend is a series of posts I’ll often look back at and just smile at how neat all of the packaging looks, shown together.
As a candy wrapper collector I think I love the stories behind wrappers as much, if not more than I do the actual wrappers themselves. Those can be stories of how I found them, or came to acquire them, or how/where they were originally purchased.
I often acquire pieces whose origins are unknown to me. That is to say, I don’t know who bought the candy and originally saved the wrapper. But in some cases I do know who bought them, and I’m getting them directly from the person who originally thought to save them.
Such was the case when I acquired a few wrappers from Leo Harwood in the United Kingdom, who as a young boy in the 1930’s saved his chocolate wrappers and collected them for a few years. Though he stopped when World War II began, the wrappers remained with him through the decades. So it was that I came to acquire the original 1937 Rolo wrapper that young Leo Harwood had saved some 75 years earlier.
The sense of history and honor I feel at being able to tell the story behind pieces like this is pretty special and amazing.
Being able to share Mr. Harwood’s story of collecting candy makes this one of my favorite posts of the year.
I’ve already mentioned how I love doing visual packaging timelines for major brands. That was certainly true when I did my first Razzles packaging timeline back in April. And it was true when I did my most recent revision of that timeline in September.
I’ve found that the rule seems to be that if I put together a visual timeline, it’s inevitable that I’ll discover a previously-unknown packaging version soon after. With Razzles, 2012 was a year of multiple discoveries about the history of the brand.
The highlight and culmination of those was the discovery of the very first style of Razzles pack – released in 1966. These first release Razzles revealed a slightly different version of the logo as well as a foil pack, which was only done for the initial run of the brand. Up until then, I didn’t even know there WAS a 1966 version of Razzles.
I love finding the first-versions of candy wrappers and packs – examples of what the packaging looked like when it first came to market. I call those “rookie wrappers” and “rookie packs”. That’s why this Razzles post was one of my most personally-exciting, and is one of my years’ faves.
Whenever I post something to the site, I can never really predict what the response is going to be. Sometimes a post that I’m excited to share ends up not getting as much attention as I’d have expected. In the case of this Halloween store displays post, it was just the opposite.
During the month of October, I took part in the Countdown-To-Halloween shared site event. I committed to posting a Halloween candy-related post for every day in the month, and I managed to hold to that commitment. But it wasn’t easy.
For this particular day, I didn’t have what I’d originally wanted to do ready, so I sort of threw this post together at the last-minute. At the time I considered it more of a filler post than anything else, but the response to it was incredible. People just really enjoyed seeing these images.
So, for the unexpected pleasure and entertainment this one provided, it is one of my favorite posts of the year.
It’s always a pleasure to share my passion about this material and about the topics of candy history and candy packaging. So when I was contacted by Cody Stark of Good Day Sacramento to appear for segment on Halloween candy, I jumped at the chance.
It was fun being a part of their show and getting to share this stuff I love so much with their audience. Though I write from the perspective of a candy collector and historian, my desire is for my posts to be able to be enjoyed by anyone. Opportunities like this one are a way to help me measure how well I’m doing that.
It’s also just fun to talk about candy with people who are excited to hear what I have to share.
This is more of a “collective favorite”. Taking part in the Countdown-to-Halloween was a challenge I gave myself and was excited to take on. Where candy is concerned there’s no better holiday, and where seasonal candy packaging is concerned there’s nothing cooler than Halloween packaging.
I’d saved up a lot of really neat vintage Halloween goodies over the year, and the Countdown-to-Halloween month allowed me to finally reveal them. It was a ton of work and a little bit of pressure to keep the content rolling daily, but it was so worth it. I had a great time and I’m proud of what I was able to put on the page during those 31 Halloween-filled days.
I’m a big fan of Cadbury’s CurlyWurly, and through the year I’d posted a few times about the brand. For this most recent post, I’d assembled a visual timeline of thirty-four different CurlyWurly packages from around the world and the last 40-years.
It was the culmination of all of my previous posts on the topic as well as a number of notable discoveries and acquisitions that occurred during the year. I think it’s a visual feast of candy packaging goodness and one I just like looking at.
As I said before, anytime I have the chance to reach a new audience with this material I consider it a great opportunity. So when Daniel Slotnik contacted me to do a profile for Narratively NYC, I jumped at the chance.
I didn’t really know what to expect when we did the two interview sessions we did. I’m often worried that folks too often want to focus on the unusual or weird aspects of a hobby like this, rather than the passion and history that is what it’s truly about.
In this case, I think Dan nailed what I do and why I do it perfectly. He approached it all with a thoughtfulness that I found quite wonderful. It was something I was excited to share.
I wasn’t the only one who liked the piece, as it was picked up for distribution in a few different outlets, most notably the Huffington Post and Salon.com (who gave it the clever name, Wrapper’s Delight).
Last but not least is the post I assembled on the history of Milk Duds’ exotic brand extensions. Holloway’s fruit-flavored Duds from the 1970’s have long been a special interest of mine, and a candy history puzzle to solve.
With this post, I shared what I’d been able to figure out thus far, and was able to include significant discoveries made only in the months leading up to posting it. There are still things to find (Banana Duds, for instance) and perhaps more unknowns to be discovered, but for now, I think this post serves as a great base of historical information to work from. It’s also pretty neat to show all of these flavored Duds together for the first time.
This is stuff that even Hershey, the current owners and producers of Milk Duds, don’t know. Pretty neat. And one of the many reasons this is one of my favorite posts of the year.
And that’s everything for today – a selection of 15 of my favorite posts from the year. Looking back, it’s hard to believe I’ve written over 290 candy packaging-related posts. But they’re there – so I guess I’d better believe it.
I plan to be back tomorrow with a continuation of our Anniversary celebrations. Drop back by if you can.
See you next time!