The Original Flavors of 9 Popular Candies

Candy is quite the industry these days. Everything comes in a million different flavors, limited editions, special colors, promotional movie tie-ins"¦ it can be a bit overwhelming. But back when it was a fledgling industry, you would have been hard-pressed to find wacky watermelon sour fizzy coated taffy. In fact, some of our favorite candies were quite different than how we know them today.

1. Ever wonder how the 3 Musketeers bar got its name? No, the creator wasn't a big Dumas fan "“ it's because the bar was originally split into three pieces with three different flavors "“ vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. When vanilla and strawberry flavoring became hard to come by during WWII, Mars decided to go all chocolate. Studies had shown it was the preferred flavor of the three anyway. [Join our Facebook campaign to bring back the original 3 Musketeers!]

2. You can obviously get M&Ms in just about any color of the rainbow today, but when they were first introduced in 1941, fans had to make do with just red, brown, yellow, green and violet. And I guess "fans" isn't really a fair word "“ the first M&Ms were actually given to soldiers in their rations because the chocolate was a good energy source, and the candy-coated shell kept the chocolate from melting all over. They came in a cardboard tube.

3. The Milky Way has a tale similar to 3 Musketeers' multiple flavors. Back when it was the first commercially distributed filled candy bar in 1923, the Milky Way came in chocolate and vanilla flavors. The vanilla version came covered in dark chocolate. They were sold separately for several years, then sold as a two-piece candy bar just like 3 Musketeers was sold as a three-piece candy bar. By 1936, the chocolate and vanilla pieces would bid each other adieu forever. In a marketing move that I don't quite understand, the Mars company continued to sell the vanilla and dark chocolate version under a new name "“ the Forever Yours bar. It was rebranded again as the Milky Way Dark, and these days you'll find it on shelves under the name "Milky Way Midnight." The name, by the way, doesn't come from the galaxy as many people suspect. It comes from the fact that the bar was inspired by the flavor of a milkshake.

Image credit: Jason Liebig, CollectingCandy.com

4. Originally known as "Opal Fruits," Starbursts came in just four flavors when they were first introduced: orange, lemon, lime and strawberry. When branding switched to Starburst in 1967, lemon and lime were squished into one flavor so "blackcurrant" chews could be added to the mix.

5. Jelly Bellies are known for their ridiculous palette of flavors now "“ there are 50 "official" flavors, nine "rookie" flavors, five Cold Stone Creamery-inspired flavors, and lines that include soda flavors, sour beans, "sport" beans, Harry Potter's Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, and "smoothie blends." That's not even including all of the tastes they have retired over the years. But when Jelly Belly first launched, there were just eight to choose from: Very Cherry, Tangerine, Lemon, Green Apple, Grape Jelly, Licorice, A&W Root Beer, and A&W Cream Soda.

6. Although Life Savers just came in Pep-O-Mint when they were introduced in 1913, a variety of flavors soon followed: Wint-O-Green, Cl-O-ve, Lic-O-Riche, Cinn-O-Mon, Vi-O-let and Choc-O-Late. Malt-O-Milk showed up the following year and was a colossal flop. The familiar fruit flavors of today were developed in 1925: grape, orange, lemon and lime. Anise, Root Beer, Cola and Butter Rum came soon after but weren't as popular. Really? I'd buy Root Beer Life Savers. Yum. Cl-O-ve"¦ not so much.

7. PEZ actually gets its name from the first flavor it ever came in "“ Pfefferminz (that would be German for "peppermint.") They came in little cigarette lighter-like cases to conveniently dispense mints to smokers. It wasn't until the 1950s that PEZ decided to expand their market to kids, which is where the fruity flavors and fun dispensers came in. Santa, a robot, and a "Space Gun" were the first dispensers aimed at kids.

8. Tootsie Pops came in five basic flavors that I think are still the main ones today: Chocolate, Cherry, Orange, Grape and Raspberry. But according to Tootsie Roll Industries, there's a sixth flavor that alternates between Lemon Lime, Blue Raspberry, and Banana. You can vote on a new, permanent sixth flavor (the voting mysteriously includes pomegranate, which is not listed as a flavor that is currently one of the alternate sixths) and suggest new flavors on the Tootsie site. I suggested Cream Soda.

9. As you might suspect, mint was the first Mentos flavor. Actually, it was a "peppermint flavored caramel candy" which doesn't sound too appetizing to me. That was way back in 1932 "“ consumers didn't get to experience cinnamon Mentos (in the U.S.) or fruit-flavored Mentos (in Europe) until 40 years later. You can find just about any flavor of Mentos now if you're looking in the right countries "“ in your travels across the globe you're likely to come across raisin, lemon yogurt, cola, grape "˜n' cream, black licorice and red orange (among many, many others).

Would you have preferred any of these originals to what we have today? I'm not sure I would (although I am intrigued by the original 3 Musketeeers), but I also think candy companies sometimes try a little too hard to come up with the next crazy thing. That being said, I am on the hunt for the new Pretzel M&Ms.

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May 12, 2010 - 1:51pm
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