The History Of The Oldest Candy Bars

Whether it’s at the corner store or the theater concession stand, how is anyone ever supposed to choose from what seems like an endless array of candy bars? It’s hard to imagine that less than 200 years ago, the chocolate bar had yet even to be invented! Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, and count down the Top 10 Oldest Candy Bars Ever Created!

The Charleston Chew — 1922

Going back almost a century, this bar has a name that many will likely recognize: the Charleston Chew. However, this chocolate bar remains one of the lesser eaten bars on the list in terms of modern popularity. The Charleston Chew was named after the popular dance craze of the 1920s seeded in freedom, excess, liberation, and joy — the Charleston. The chocolate bar itself is much different from the salty and sweet flavor combinations that are most popular today. Instead, the bar contains a sweeter filling, perfect for satisfying those candy cravings. Even though it was originally only offered in vanilla, in the 1970s, this brand expanded with the addition of two new flavors, creating the trio of Charleston’s: vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate. The best part is, is that they can still be found on shelves today. Here’s a little secret to make this phenomenal chocolate experience even tastier: many fans of the Charleston Chew love to put their bar in their freezer to crack off tiny crunchy pieces bit by bit! A must-try experience for any true Chew fan! Nothing beats a cold Charleston Chew on a hot summers day, so why not give one a try?

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups — 1922

Alright, perhaps the unusual shape of this candy makes it a bit of a stretch for a chocolate “bar,” but how can any true candy bar list leave out one of the most iconic chocolate treats ever created? Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: the perfect sweet and salty balance. Reeses wouldn’t hit store shelves until 1928, when the recipe was perfected and marketed. However, the first batch of delicious peanut butter cups was created six years earlier in 1922, by H.B. Reese. He was a former employee of Milton Hershey, the founder of the Hershey Chocolate Company. From then on, Reese would become a family name in terms of household candies. In fact, as of 2017, Reese’s chocolates are over 60% larger than the next largest chocolate brand and counts for almost half of all seasonal chocolate sales in the United States! That means Americans sure do love that delicious peanut butter and chocolate combination! So what makes these chocolate dream cups so irresistible? Besides perfection being exhibited in the original version, Reese cups have expanded to host a plethora of different sizes and flavors, certain to impress any chocolate lover. Besides different sizes being offered, such as the minis, big cups, and world record cups, Reese’s has experimented significantly with different flavors. Reese’s lovers can now try caramel, hazelnut, crunch, Reese’s Pieces filled, and Marshmallow and Dark Chocolate cups, just to name a few. So the next time you hear a Reese’s cup calling out to be eaten, there’s no sense trying to resist.

Oh Henry — 1920

The next chocolate bar on the list of The Oldest Candy Bars Ever Created is a 100-year-old favorite among North Americans: the Oh Henry. While the history of many chocolate bars is very well documented with the original production, name creation, and distribution, the Oh Henry bar’s history is somewhat elusive. There are many different stories about where the brand name came from. Some say that it was the name of the original candy bar maker himself, while others tell the story of a boy named Henry obsessed with the girls at the confectionery assembly line. Either way, since day one of Oh Henry’s history, it was clear that this chocolate bar was born to be famous. When the Williamson candy company bought the Oh Henry recipe, they knew they had bought a ticket to success. Using cheaply made bumper stickers with the words “Oh Henry” as their only advertising, the company could spur enough conversation that the Oh Henry’s popularity quickly rose to stardom. It wasn’t long after that they were being stocked on candy store shelves all across America. One little known fact is the significant difference between some of the same chocolate bars in Canada and the U.S. Many chocolate bars list slightly differing recipes, depending on the country. And Oh, Henry is no exception. Perhaps, the most obvious detail with the Oh Henry bar is the physical difference. While the American version has the nuts and caramel mixed together, providing a uniform chocolate-covered rectangular shape, the Canadian version places the nuts around the bar making the bars more unique and natural-looking. Either way, both these chocolate bars are fan favorites in their nations and a must-have treat for anyone craving a little sweetness in their lives.

Clark Bar — 1917

It’s a wonder how sometimes, during the darkest of days in history, some incredible inventions are made. This is also true in the case of the popular Clark Bar. Created as a quick nutrition supplement for soldiers during World War I, it’s understandable how the Clark Bar, with its delicious peanut and caramel center draped in velvety chocolate, quickly became a favorite among army troops. I mean, compared to the dried and canned alternatives that were often supplied, it was a no-brainer. Unlike many of the other chocolate bars on this list, the Clark Bar has undergone some significant recipe changes since it’s been on the store shelves. At one point, not only was the caramel center removed from the bars entirely, in hopes of giving it a lengthier expiration date, but the peanut flavor was enhanced significantly. It’s amazing how something so delicious was principally crafted not only as a confectionery but as a nutrition booster! It is hard to imagine that, in the plentiful society of the 21st century, doctors would be advising the consumption of chocolate bars. However, the high calories fit the bill in the poverty-stricken 1920s and ’30s. While this bar had been off the shelf for some time now, it was finally brought back this year — first soft-launching in Pittsburgh before moving onto a national release! Finally, everyone can get their hands on a Clark Bar! Whether you’re an old fan or never experienced it before, this chocolate bar can help remove gray from any day!

Peanut Chews — 1917

While many of the luxury chocolate bars experienced significant troubles during WWI and WWII, Peanut Chews emerged because of wartime. In 1917, during the First World War, soldiers needed easily transportable nutritional supplements that wouldn’t spoil and provide energy to everyone across the front lines. Enter Peanut Chews. These delicious treats quickly became a favorite of the troops. So much so, that at the end of the war, the candy changed from a bite-size supplement product to the classic Peanut Chews bar, which fans are so familiar with today. Besides their impressive history, Peanut Chews are making a comeback in the 21st century, as different diets expand into the American market. Peanut Chews are vegan and kosher, which covers many dietary and cultural restrictions. The fact that these power bars were manufactured for long-term use has made them incredibly shelf-stable and coincidentally vegan, all at the same time! Peanut Chews are the perfect snack if you’re looking to make greener choices or are simply looking for an amazing chocolate bar! Just because this one’s vegan doesn’t mean it isn’t amazing!

Toblerone — 1908

The Toblerone Bar, with its distinct triangular shape, is by far one of the most recognizable chocolate bars in the world. It’s also one of the oldest. And one of the best. Created in Switzerland in 1908, these chocolate bars have been flying off shelves ever since! People sure seem to love this chocolate, as over 62,000 kilometers (or almost 40,000 miles) of Toblerone are eaten every year! That means that each year, the Toblerone bars could line up around the entire planet! So, where exactly did that iconic triangular shape come from? Although many believe the shape is meant to represent the beautiful Swiss Alps, the true story is slightly less majestic. Supposedly, Jean Tobler, the inventor of this bar, loved the grand finale of a show he saw so much that he emulated the dancers’ triangular statue form in his own chocolate bar! For those of you who love chocolate as much as Tobler loved his dancers, there’s a Toblerone bar for you! Currently available for purchase is a 10 pound Toblerone chocolate bar! With triangle chunks the size of a human head, this chocolate bar is certain to last through any opening movie trailers! In fact, it may just last for a whole year of movie outings! Now, that’s a deal!

Dairy Milk — 1905

When it comes to regular, plain chocolate bars, everyone has their personal favorite. Still, it’s hard to deny the delicious and creamy texture that has made the Cadbury Dairy Milk Bar one of the world’s best selling chocolates. What is it about this chocolate that makes it so much better than many of its competitors? The recipe includes a higher consistency of dairy products — hence the name “Dairy Milk.” Although technically Cadbury’s been selling chocolate since 1897, it was in 1905 that the classic Dairy Milk bar hit the shelves of grocers. If you’re a lover of the iconic Dairy Milk purple color, this story is certain to amuse you. For years, Cadbury owned the shade of purple known as 2685c — the classic Cadbury color. Nestle sued Cadbury for the use of the color, and after a lengthy legal battle, Cadbury lost its sole proprietorship of the color. The color is now used on a multitude of Cadbury products including, not only the Dairy Milk bar, but the bags of Cadbury Buttons, Twirlz, Double Deckers, and Picnics, just to name a few. No matter who uses this color, anyone who sees the royal purple is bound to crave some creamy Cadbury chocolate. While for years, Cadbury was widely recognized as holiday chocolate, especially targeted at Easter, over the recent decade, a massive expansion project has put this company back in the fore-front of the chocolate competition, making it a household staple.

Hershey Bar — 1900

While many of the classic chocolate bars on this list find their roots in European heritage, the Hershey Bar is as American as they come. Interested in coming up with the next big confectionery hit, Milton Hershey took a vacation to Switzerland, where he learned the techniques and delicacies regarding chocolate production from the cocoa bean. Upon his return with the information he had learned, he started his own confectionery company, and by 1900, the original Hershey Chocolate Bar was being sold. It would not be until 1906 that Hershey’s Kisses would begin selling in stores, and about another 10 years after that before they were dressed in their traditional silver suit and tie. One of the most interesting facts about this chocolate bar is its relationship with the American people. While it is regularly touted as the favorite chocolate of Americans, Hershey has remained much less popular in terms of the global market. In another case of differences within North America, the Canadian recipe has been altered compared to the American version. Apparently, the Canadian Hershey bar is creamier and offers a deeper flavor profile than the considerably flat and less intense American counterpart. No one seems to mind as each nation can enjoy their own personal take on delicious Hershey’s milk chocolate!

Lindt — 1879

Before Lindt, most chocolates were extremely bitter and unenjoyable — especially when consumed individually. It was Rodolphe Lindt who vowed he could take the harsh ingredient that is cocoa and develop it into the beautiful, smooth, and velvety Lindt chocolate — which would eventually be found in stockings during the holidays. It’s incredible how a chocolate company this old has been able to withstand all the ups and downs this world has seen over 140 years. It seems that chocolate is one of the few products that humanity just can’t seem to live without! Even during the darkest times of human histories, such as the Great Depression and two World Wars, chocolate — specifically Lindt chocolate — continuously promoted joy. In the 1920s and 30s, as rationing spread across the world, the ability to eat chocolate became a genuine privilege. Despite many businesses failing to make it through an extremely difficult 20 years, an obsession with delicious Lindt chocolate meant that consumers continued to treat themselves whenever possible, bringing the love of Lindt into the brighter half of the 20th century. Sometimes in life, it’s the little things that can make the biggest difference!

Fry’s Chocolate Bar — 1847

At over 170 years old, the world’s oldest candy bar may not be one that everyone is familiar with. Fry’s candy bar delivers a flavor experience that’s unlike the heavy and exuberant candies o f the 21st century. Fry’s Chocolate Cream is a fondant candy bar enveloped in a light layer of chocolate. Although it may be underwhelming by today’s standards in terms of ingredients, this chocolate bar launched the candy revolution currently stocking the front shelves of convenience stores. While the original candy bar featured a plain fondant, this brand has expanded to offer five delicious flavors that can satisfy every candy craving. Customers can now delight in Fry’s Chocolate Cream featuring peppermint, raspberry, orange, and strawberry cream. A fresh exciting flavor profile is available for all those who desire to try the candy bar. The best news is that this chocolate bar is currently produced by Cadbury and is available to UK customers right now! And for anyone else interested in purchasing these delicious treats, many online British candy shops offer Fry’s Chocolate Cream by the single piece or inboxes. They may be a little harder to find, but these hidden treasures are one of the best candies around and an absolute must for any true chocolate or candy connoisseur.

Hope you enjoyed my list.

What goes well with candy? Soda! See my list of America’s favorite Sodas here.

A modern millennial guy with a cute little family. Located in Southern California. I like writing about fun topics that are interesting to learn about.

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