- Historic Sites
Drawing upon a lifetime of study, our author chooses ten classic American candy bars worthy of special attention.
October/November 1986 | Volume 37, Issue 6
During the 1930s and ’40s the Paul F. Beich Co. of Bloomington, Illinois, had children throughout the Midwest chanting their jingle, “Whiz, best nickel candy there iz-z.” But rising costs in the 1950s forced the price up to a dime and thereby ruined the meter. The unsatisfactory “Whiz, best candy bar there iz-z” could not save it; sales fell, and the dangerous starch-molding process by which it was manufactured finally doomed it. The last Whiz bar was consumed about thirty years ago.
The most phenomenally successful radio show of all time had some forty million listeners at its peak in 1931, and the Williamson Candy Co. sought to cash in on it with a two-piece bar whose chocolate coating covered a crisp honeycomb center. Produced under license, it sold reasonably well (or a few years, but its fortunes were linked with the show’s, and when Amos and Andy waned, so did their eponymous bar.
One of the early nut rolls, the Chicken Dinner bar was introduced by the Sperry Candy Company in the early 1920s, and its first wrappers carried the drawing of a roasted chicken. The unusual name was meant to echo the feeling of well-being and prosperity associated with “a chicken in every pot”—a slogan that went back to Henry IV of France and which would be revived for the 1928 Republican campaign. Fleets of Model A trucks disguised as giant, sheet-metal chickens were used by the Sperry people to deliver their creation. The makers took an amazingly long time to discover that a roast chicken didn’t convey the image of candy to most people, but at last, several years after the bar’s debut, the picture of the chicken was dropped from the wrapper. Sperry stuck with the name, however, and it is a tribute to the bar’s quality that it surmounted that obstacle for some forty years before finally disappearing in the 1960s.