iStock
iStock

How 9 Famous Candy Brands Got Their Names

iStock
iStock

Some candy names are pretty straightforward (we love you, SweeTARTS), while others are a bit more obscure. Here, we unwrap the name origins of a few delicious favorites.

1. MILK DUDS

In 1926, F. Hoffman & Company of Chicago set out to make perfectly round chocolate-covered caramels. The manufacturing equipment didn’t quite cooperate, however, and what came out were oval-shaped candies. A worker pronounced them “duds,” but everyone agreed they still tasted good, so the company kept producing them under the playful name. Two years later, the Holloway Company bought out Hoffman and brought Milk Duds to the masses.

2. SNICKERS

iStock

When Franklin Mars, founder of the Mars candy company, needed a name for the new candy bar that would follow his wildly successful Milky Way bar, he turned to the family stables, of all places. Snickers, named after the family’s prized horse, came out in 1930 and was an immediate hit. According to the company, it’s the best-selling candy bar of all time. Fun fact: Until the ‘90s, it was called a Marathon bar in the United Kingdom.

3. BABY RUTH

iStock

This one’s loaded with peanuts, caramel, and controversy. In 1921, Otto Schnering of Chicago’s Curtiss Candy Company reformulated his signature Kandy Kake bar (he took out pudding, for starters) and renamed it Baby Ruth. This was during the apex of Babe Ruth’s reign as a major league slugger, and many speculated that Schnering had capitalized on Ruth’s name while avoiding royalty payments. In 1926, The Babe himself entered the candy business, and came out with “Ruth’s Home Run Candy.” The Curtiss Company sued, claiming copyright infringement, and noting that Baby Ruth was actually named for President Cleveland’s daughter. This was an odd defense, considering Ruth Cleveland had died of diphtheria in 1904, but the court upheld Curtiss’s claim, ruling in 1931 that the ballplayer had profited off the popularity of a candy bar that, in all likelihood, borrowed from his own nickname.

4. JUNIOR MINTS

The name’s not as literal as you might think. James Welch, founder of the James O. Welch Candy Company in Massachusetts, named the chocolate-covered mint creams after his favorite Broadway play, Junior Miss. Based on a series of stories about a meddlesome young girl living in New York, the play ran from 1941 to 1943, and was a household name by the time Junior Mints came out in 1949, with a film and radio version (featuring Shirley Temple) reaching mainstream audiences.

5. TOOTSIE ROLLS

Leo Hirschfield, the inventor of the chewy, chocolatey candy, named them for his 5-year-old daughter, Clara, who he called “Tootsie.” It was a popular nickname at the time, and appealed to penny-toting children who bought up Hirschfield’s individually wrapped treats.

6. 3 MUSKETEERS

iStock

You might reason that the inventor was a big Alexandre Dumas fan. And you would be wrong (well, mostly). The name refers to the three different pieces of candy that used to be inside each package: chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. First released in 1932, the company ran into production troubles during World War II, when vanilla and strawberry flavoring were hard to come by. So the Mars Company phased those out in favor of chocolate. Over the past several years, 3 Musketeers has dabbled in flavor extensions, including mint, strawberry and cherry.

7. PEZ

iStock

These days it’s a quirky, kid-friendly candy known for a wide variety of dispensers. But in 1927, PEZ was a breath mint for smokers. Invented by Austrian Eduard Haas III, the name refers to “pfefferminz,” which is the German word for peppermint. The first PEZ dispensers, called “Box Regulars,” were shaped like cigarette lighters, and came with notes encouraging smokers to quit. It wasn’t until the ‘50s that PEZ, eager to expand its U.S. market, came out with fruity flavors and dispensers targeted towards kids.

8. OH HENRY!

iStock

There’s been much speculation about the origin of this one, from Hank Aaron to the writer O. Henry. According to Nestle, the name comes from a boy who used to visit George Williamson’s candy shop in early 1900s Chicago. Young Henry stopped by often and became friendly with the ladies who worked in the store, who would frequently send him out on errands. “Oh Henry,” they’d say before sending him off. Williamson took note of the name, and when the time came to name his new chocolate-covered peanut-and-caramel bar, he chose the unique title “Oh Henry!”

9. M&Ms

Chloe Effron

The two Ms signify the candy’s inventor and his benefactor: Mars and Murrie. Forrest Mars developed M&Ms while in England during the 1930s—supposedly after observing a similar candy carried by Spanish Civil War soldiers. He then went to Bruce Murrie, son of Hershey Company president William Murrie, and gave him a 20 percent stake in return for backing his new candy. Murrie and Mars parted ways in 1949, just a few years after M&Ms first came out, leaving Mars as the sole “M”.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
15 Rich Facts About Fudge
iStock
iStock

You probably know the basics about this decadent dessert: It's rich, it's creamy, and it comes in a variety of mouth-watering flavors. (Red velvet cake batter fudge? Yes please!) But there is plenty more fun trivia to digest. In honor of National Fudge Day, we’re serving up the sweetest morsels.

1. WHEN THE DESSERT WAS INVENTED, IT CHANGED THE PREVIOUS MEANING OF FUDGE.

In the late 17th century, fudge was a verb meaning "to fit together or adjust [clumsily]." Then around 1800, the word was used to mean a hoax or cheat. By mid-century, the use of the term “Oh, fudge!” as a kid-friendly expletive had come into favor, and was often used when something had been messed up. It’s believed that the first batch of fudge was created when someone was trying to make caramels and “fudged” up. The name stuck.

2. IT HAS STRONG TIES TO BALTIMORE.

The earliest origin story for fudge dates back to 1921, when Emelyn Battersby Hartridge, a former Vassar student, wrote a letter describing her introduction to the treat. She claims that while attending classes in 1886, a classmate's cousin living in Baltimore made the dessert, and this was her first knowledge of it. She also mentions a grocery store, probably in Baltimore, that sold fudge for 40 cents a pound.

3. THE TREAT BECAME WILDLY POPULAR AT VASSAR.

Two years after discovering fudge, Battersby Hartridge got ahold of the recipe and made 30 pounds of it for the Vassar Senior Auction. In Vassar, The Alumnae/i Quarterly, they claim the sweet became so favored that “students would make it in the middle of the night, dangerously diverting the gas from their lamps for the task.”

4. STILL, IT TOOK A WHILE FOR COMPANIES TO MASS-PRODUCE IT.

Skuse’s Complete Confectioner was known as a guide for all things dessert—but the first editions of the book, printed in the late 1800s, didn’t include any recipes for fudge. In later editions, they made up for lost time, including recipes for rainbow fudge (food colorings), Mexican fudge (raisins, nuts, and coconut), maple fudge, and three types of chocolate fudge.

5. AMERICANS MAY HAVE STOLEN THE CONCEPT FROM THE SCOTS.

Fudge is thought to be a descendent of tablet—a medium-hard confection from Scotland. The two treats use similar ingredients, but fudge is richer, softer, and slightly less grainy than its European cousin.

6. THERE'S A WORLD RECORD FOR THE LARGEST SLAB.

The 5760-pound behemoth was crafted at the Northwest Fudge Factory in Ontario, Canada in 2010. It reportedly took a full week to make, and while ingredients aren't available for this record, the previous record holder contained 705 pounds of butter, 2800 pounds of chocolate, and 305 gallons of condensed milk.

7. MAKING FUDGE TAKES SOME SCIENCE.

Early fudge recipes were prone to disaster, with one 1902 magazine explaining "fudge is one of the most difficult confections to make properly." With candy thermometers not becoming commonplace for several years, most recipes required boiling and hoping for the best. Eventually more foolproof recipes were created that included corn syrup (which helps prevent the crystallization that can result in a gritty texture) and condensed milk or marshmallow crème.

8. IT'S NOT ALL THAT DIFFERENT THAN FONDANT.

Fudge is actually a drier version of fondant—not the stiff, malleable kind so often seen on cake decorating shows, but the kind found in candies like peppermint patties and cherry cordials. 

9. A TINY ISLAND IN MICHIGAN CONSIDERS ITSELF THE FUDGE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD.

There are upwards of a dozen fudge shops on 4.35-square mile Mackinac Island in northern Michigan. (Permanent population on the tourist destination: just shy of 500, per the 2010 census.) The oldest candy shop on the island, Murdick’s Candy Kitchen, opened in 1887, while May's Candy claims to be the oldest fudge shop.

10. MACKINAC ISLAND CRANKS OUT OVER 10,000 POUNDS OF FUDGE DAILY DURING PEAK SEASON.

For production, fudge makers ship in about 10 tons of sugar each week and roughly 10 tons of butter each year. Every August, the island hosts the Mackinac Island Fudge Festival, complete with events like Fudge on the Rocks, where local bartenders craft fudge-y libations.

11. FIRST LADY MAMIE EISENHOWER WAS A HUGE FUDGE FAN.

She even crafted her own recipe—named Mamie’s Million-Dollar Fudge—which her husband, Ike, quite liked. It included chopped nuts and marshmallow crème.

12. THE HOT FUDGE SUNDAE WAS CREATED IN HOLLYWOOD.

C.C. Brown’s, an iconic ice cream parlor on Hollywood Boulevard, was credited for dreaming up the idea to drizzle melted fudge over ice cream in 1906 (earlier sundaes had other syrups, like cherry). Sadly, the shop closed in 1996, but the treat remains popular.

13. THE BRITS HAD A SWEET NAME FOR FUDGE.

A description of fudge, found in the 1920 tome Harmsworth’s Household Encyclopedia, read, “A sweetmeat that hails from America, but is now popular in other countries.” (To be fair, in the UK the term "sweetmeat” is applied to a variety of sweet treats.)

14. AT ONE POINT, YOU COULD BUY A LIFETIME SUPPLY OF FUDGE.

Harry Ryba, known as the fudge king of Mackinac Island, once offered to mail out a lifetime supply of the candy—three pounds a month—to any customer willing to pay $2250 upfront. “A lifetime, being yours or mine, whichever ends sooner,” he said, per The New York Times. Not a bad deal, considering he passed away at age 88.

15. FUDGE CAN KEEP FOR A LONG TIME.

Airtight packages of the confection can be frozen and stored up to a year without losing any flavor, which means that you can feel free to give in to temptation and buy a larger chunk while on vacation this year. And about that lifetime supply…

All images via iStock.

Former NECCO CEO Has a Plan to Save the Company

It’s been a month of ups and downs for fans of candy company NECCO and its iconic sugary Wafers. In March, The Boston Globe reported the company is in desperate need of a buyer and that CEO Michael McGee notified the state of Massachusetts that most of their employees—around 395 of them—would likely face layoffs if a suitor isn't found by May.

That news caused a bit of a panic among candy lovers, who stormed CandyStore.com to hoard packs and packs of NECCO Wafers, should the company go under. In the weeks since the news about NECCO’s uncertain fate hit, sales of the company's products went up by 82 percent, with the Wafers alone increasing by 150 percent.

Seeing the reaction and knowing there is still plenty of space in the market for the venerable NECCO Wafers, the company’s former CEO, Al Gulachenski, reached out to CandyStore.com to lay out his plan to save the brand—most notably the Wafers and Sweethearts products.

The most important part of the plan is the money he’ll need to raise. Gulachenski is set to raise $5 to $10 million privately, and he’s creating a GoFundMe campaign for $20 million more to get his plan into motion. Once the funding is secure, the company will move to a new factory in Massachusetts that allows them to retain key executives and as many other employees as they can.

“I can promise you that if you donate you will own a piece of NECCO as I will issue shares to everyone that contributes money,” Gulachenski wrote on the GoFundMe page. “This company has been in our back yard for 170 years and it's time we own it.”

Gulachenski also elaborated that, as of now, there is another buyer interested in NECCO, but that buyer “is planning to liquidate the company, fire all the employees and close the doors of NECCO forever!”

So far, Gulachenski has raised only $565 of the $20 million needed. “I know it seems like a long way to go but I do expect some institutions to jump on board and get us most of the way there,” Gulachenski wrote in a GoFundMe update. “It is also likely we can get most of the company if we get to half of our goal.”

There is still a bit of a sour taste for candy fans to swallow, even if NECCO does get saved. According to Gulachenski, the Wafers and the Sweethearts may be the only products that the reorganized NECCO continues with. This could leave lovers of the company's other candies, like Clark Bars and Sky Bars, out in the cold.

“The sugar component Necco Wafer and Sweetheart is certainly the most nostalgic and recognizable brand, more than the chocolate,” Gulachenski told The Boston Globe. “It’s all going to depend how they decide to sell the company and liquidate.”

While you can still order the Wafers in bulk from Candystore.com, the site itself even says it has no idea when or if shipments will stop coming, especially as NECCO's future remains uncertain.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios