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How 9 Famous Candy Brands Got Their Names

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!

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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

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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”.

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Odd Jobs
Dream Job Alert: Cadbury Is Looking for Professional Chocolate Tasters
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Can you taste the difference between semisweet and bittersweet chocolate? Do you have strong opinions on what makes a perfect cup of cocoa? If so, Cadbury wants to hear from you. As Insider reports, the candy brand’s parent company Mondelez International is hiring taste testers to aid in the development of their chocolate products.

The corporation, which also owns the chocolate bar brand Milka, is seeking applicants to fill four positions: three chocolate tasters and one chocolate and cocoa beverage taster. According to the job listings, Mondelez will train the new employees in sharpening their taste buds and broadening their flavor vocabulary, so no experience is necessary. The qualities they are looking for include a communicative personality, eagerness to try new products, honesty and objectivity, and a passion for all things sweet. Candidates must also be fluent in English and available to work in Reading, England, about 40 miles west of London.

Each job pays £9 ($12.44) an hour, with employees spending about eight hours a week working with other panelists in sensory booths and discussion rooms. The maximum 10 free chocolate samples they get to eat a day are a bonus.

Prospective employees have until February 16 to submit their resumes, but they should act fast: When Mondelez put out a call for taste-testers last year, they were flooded with thousands of applications.

[h/t Insider]

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Big Questions
What Makes Pop Rocks Pop?
Noshin R, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Noshin R, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Eating most candy isn’t complicated: You take a bite, enjoy a sugar-fueled dopamine rush, and repeat until you have a stomach ache. Chemist William A. Mitchell added another step to the process when he developed Pop Rocks. When the sweet, hard candy bits hit your mouth, they act up before breaking down, creating a crackling, hissing noise that would be alarming coming from any other food product. But when it happens to Pop Rocks, you know you’re getting what you paid for. So what exactly is it about the candy that makes it just as much of a science experiment as a sweet snack?

The answer lies in carbon dioxide. It’s the same gas that gives cola, beer, and champagne their effervescence, but it’s not a common ingredient in solid foods. In the late 1950s, Mitchell wondered if it was possible to create an instant soda tablet by baking CO2 into candy. Even though his idea didn’t take off, the experiments laid the basis for Pop Rocks.

Like other hard candies, Pop Rocks are made by mixing sugar, lactose, corn syrup, and flavorings. Once those ingredients are melted together and boiled, highly-pressurized CO2 is added. When the candy mixture hardens, it traps bubbles of gas exerting pressure at 600 pounds per square inch (psi). For reference, the pressure inside a champagne bottle measures in at 90 psi.

It’s impossible to detect the special component in Pop Rocks unless you taste them. Magical things happen when the candy meets up with your mouth: As your saliva dissolves the sugar, those powerful air pockets begin to burst like miniature firecrackers on your tongue. The 600 psi carbon dioxide collides with the 15 psi pressure of the atmosphere, resulting in a crack you can feel and hear. That’s why Pop Rocks are so noisy, whether you’re eating them or standing next to someone who is.

And if you’re worried that all that pressure will do some serious damage to your body, you can rest easy. Contrary to the hysteria from kids and parents, there’s never been a known case of death by Pop Rocks. That includes when it's mixed with Coke (sorry Mikey truthers).

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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