Yesterday I covered a pretty big swath of Milk Duds history through the lens of the vintage packaging in my collection. Today, I’m going to look at a very specific niche of Milk Duds history – the exotic and little-known area of Milk Duds’ brand extensions.
These brand extensions include the oft-discussed, mythical “flavored Duds” of the 1970’s, plus two others that I’ve never seen mentioned anywhere else before. As this is one of my favorite sub-genres of candy collecting, I can’t wait to kick it off — so make the jump and join me for an awesome piece of Milk Duds history!
I’d first read about fruit-flavored Duds on the CandyWrapperMuseum site of my pal and fellow collector, Darlene Lacey. She shares a colorful story of encountering an array of flavored Duds at a store one afternoon, but only picking up the grape flavor, expecting to find the rest later on. The only problem is she never sees them again.
I think it’s safe to say that Darlene’s tale and the image of her Grape Duds box inspired my initial appreciation for the oddball Milk Duds offshoots. It’s an appreciation that has only grown as I’ve uncovered more information about them.
At the time I found Darlene’s story, the only image of a flavored Duds box that you could find anywhere online was that of her Grape Duds box. Though it took a few years to find, I now have a Grape Duds box in my own collection, and it’s similar to the one Darlene found so many years ago. Here it is:
Though the Grape Duds was the first flavored Duds box I encountered, the first one to join my collection was a different flavor – Strawberry Duds.
The origins of how this box came into my collection are a bit unusual: A fellow cereal box collector was redoing a bathroom and during the demolition phase, found the Strawberry Duds box tucked behind the wall – having rested there safe through the decades. I’d imagine it was a snack for one of the original builders, finished and set upon a beam – sealed in for unintentional preservation.
Although it took a bit of friendly coercion, I’d eventually add that box to my own collection, and here it is:
So it was that for the past several years, my collected knowledge of flavored Duds came down to two boxes – Grape and Strawberry.
But back in June, I had my first blurry glimpse at other Duds flavors when I stumbled across this spy-photo-like image in an old trade magazine. I posted about it in my Photo Hunt 1975 article, but here’s the image in question:
The mystery of flavored Duds had continued to build for me over the years. I’d hear others recall faded memories of encountering Banana, Cherry, Apple, and even Maple Duds – though it was hard to say what was real and what was pure imagination.
Fortunately for me, I had a break in the case earlier this year when I uncovered a candy industry trade ad from 1973 that showcased the original three flavored Dud offerings: Grape, Cherry, and Banana.
That ad ALSO features a pre-“The Gambler” Kenny Rogers – how cool is that?
With that ad uncovered, I now possess concrete evidence of what the original flavored Duds assortment was. But since I also know that Strawberry Duds were made at some point, the possibility remains of there having been additional variety of fruit-flavored Duds than just the four I’ve found solid evidence of thus far.
So that’s that’s a pretty big discovery – but I still have more cool things to share with you today.
First up, a flavored Duds box that has never been shown anywhere else on the internet before today. It’s one of today’s four CollectingCandy.com Exclusive Premiers – Holloway’s Cherry Duds!
And since today is also the first time any image of a Banana Duds box has been shared online, I created this close-up clipping (and amateur coloring job) for the flavor:
Beyond just trying to suss out what flavors of Duds there were, I’ve also been keen on determining when and where these exotic Duds were available, and I’ve learned a lot.
I’ve determined that fruit-flavored Duds were around during a greater period than I had initially guessed, and apparently were a nationwide product at least part of the time (I’d speculated they were a test-market item only). Based on evidence I’ve gathered, I can state that fruit flavored Duds were first introduced in the late-1972-to-early-1973 period, and were on shelves in 1977 as well.
I can’t say that they were produced and available across that whole span of years, but at least I know that they were around for two windows of time (my 1975 Photo Hunt image allows me to strongly speculate that they were sold throughout the entire 1973-1977 period).
Banana, Grape, Cherry, and Strawberry; that’s the story-so-far on fruit-flavored Duds. But there are other obscure Duds that you haven’t heard of, so let’s get to talking about those.
First up is a product that could have been called “Peanut Butter Duds” but unfortunately wasn’t. Even so, I’m calling it a Duds box. It’s Milk Duds’ Peanut Butter Caramels, released in the mid-to-late 1970’s. I’d never heard of nor seen anything on these before, and I could find no mention of them online, so this is another CollectingCandy.com Exclusive Premier:
As you can see, the Duds family had far more reach than you might ever guess. But I’ve still not shown you everything I’ve got.
Next up is a Duds variety I’d never had an inkling of until this year. It’s got a name that might have you chuckling, and it is today’s fourth CollectingCandy.com Exclusive Premiere: Nut Duds!
I gotta say, today’s post has been a lot of fun for me; getting to share four exclusive premieres is more than I’ve ever done in a single post. And these aren’t ordinary exclusives; these are pieces that in some cases I’ve spent years hunting for.
But I’m still not done yet. I’ve got one last exotic Duds to share.
This time, it’s a product that’s an extension of Holloway’s own Duds line, but also takes inspiration from another company’s iconic treat. (I’ll leave it to you to decide which one.)
Here are Holloway’s Sugar Duds!
So that’s everything I’ve got to share today on what is one of my all-time favorite confectionery topics: Milk Duds’ brand extensions.
I’ve uncovered a lot about these in the past several years, which I’ve collected and am thrilled to be able to document here today. And I plan to continue to uncover answers to the “exotic Duds” mysteries that still remain. So this fun saga continues, and when I learn more, I’ll be reporting it here to you. And that’s it for today.
See you next time!