I thought about how sometimes you get candy in an Easter basket, and I started thinking about chocolate, but I've already done a couple entries about chocolate in general. I thought I might try to find out which chocolate candy bars are the best-selling in the US, but I wasn't able to find current, reliable information for free -- I know I could find it in business market research, but I'd have to pay for that and that's not the point of this here blog.
So I decided I'll find out a fact or two about candy bars that seem to be the most popular. I'm not going to assign numbers to them because I can't promise which is the favorite or which are better-liked than others. I'm going strictly by my observation and choosing the ones that seem to be crowd favorites and going from there.
(Photo by Steve Hopson on Flickr)
- Milk Duds are so named because at first they tried to make perfectly round candies. When they discovered this was impossible, that all of them were essentially "duds," that became their name. The "milk" part refers to the fact that the recipe uses a lot of milk.
- Butterfingers were originally made by the Curtiss Company in 1923. Their first promotion was to drop the candy bars from airplanes in several cities. When the product was sold to Nabisco, the story goes that the recipe to make Butterfingers was lost and the Nabisco employees had to figure out how to make them on their own.
To make the inside of a Butterfinger, roasted peanuts are made into peanut butter that is then blended with a sugar candy to make something that isn't quite peanut brittle or anything else, for that matter.
(Photo from Uelis Welt)
- The origin of the name of Baby Ruth candy bars is very much in dispute. Most people assume that they were named after Babe Ruth, the baseball player. However, the company maintains they were named after the daughter of President Grover Cleveland, who was in office at the time. But young Ruth Cleveland died of diphtheria years before the candy bar was released. So it is probable that the candy bar was named after Babe Ruth, but they didn't want to pay him any money to use his name. Baby Ruths were also made by Curtiss, and Nabisco reportedly lost the recipe to Baby Ruths, too, when they bought Curtiss.
- 3 Musketeers used to be three separate candy bars in one wrapper: one with vanilla nougat, one with chocolate nougat, and one with strawberry nougat. Because of rationing during World War II, Mars dropped the vanilla and strawberry and made only the chocolate nougat versions, but still kept the name. Which confuses people enough now that some even wonder whether the folks at Mars got 3 Musketeers and Milky Ways mixed up (they did not).
For holidays, 3 Musketeers make special flavors like strawberry (2nd photo), raspberry, French vanilla, and mocha cappuccino. Apparently unlike Nabisco, Mars doesn't lose their recipes.
(Photos from 3 Musketeers and Candy Addict)
- KitKats are the number one selling candy bar in the United Kingdom. The candy bars were named after the KitKat Club in London, which itself was named after paintings called kitkats that were wider than they were high to accommodate the low ceilings in the club. Every second, 418 KitKats are eaten.
- Twix bars, though originally made in the UK, were called Raider bars in France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Switzerland. In 1991 Mars decided to call them Twix in those countries, to many Raider-lovers' dislike.
- Reese's Peanut Butter cups: He really did get his peanut butter in their chocolate. A guy named Harry Reese hated dairy farming and moved to Hershey, PA. He saw how well Hershey's chocolates were doing so he decided to try his hand at it. In the 1920s, he made his own specially processed peanut butter and formed them into cups inside Hershey's chocolate. They sold like gangbusters and by 1963, Hershey's bought Reese's peanut butter cups and brought the whole concern into the fold.
(Photo from Ma and Pa's Candy)
- Hershey bars were invented by Milton Snavely Hershey, who first owned and operated a business making caramels. He sold that business so he could concentrate solely on making chocolate, and he built his factory in Pennsylvania, in the heart of dairy farm country so he could be close to a large supply of milk. He hit on the winning formula for making milk chocolate -- a recipe that had been closely guarded by Swiss chocolate makers for decades -- through trial and error.
The five-pound Hershey bar.
(Photo from Stephentree.com)
- M&Ms were invented as a way to deliver chocolate to soldiers in the Spanish Civil War so that it wouldn't melt or freeze or get squashed. The candies were originally sold and shipped in heavy tubes. Even in the coated-paper packages in which they're sold today, they still hold up in any climate, and they have even gone into space with astronauts as part of their food rations.
- Snickers bars were invented in 1929 by Frank and Ethel Mars. They named them after their favorite horse. In the U.K. and Ireland, Snickers used to be called the Marathon bar. Coming full circle, there is now a Snickers Marathon Bar which is marketed as a "healthy" food. There are Energy, Protein, and Nutrition varieties.
(Photo from Imagine Annie)
Snickers Marathon bar, the Energy variety in chewy chocolate peanut. Sounds a lot like a Snickers bar, doesn't it?
(Photo from Walmart)
- And because I feel like a nut, I'll tell you a little bit about Almond Joys. Each almond is individually coated in chocolate before it is added to the rest of the candy bar. This is done not just to increase the almond-chocolate goodness but to protect the almond from the natural oils in the coconut which would otherwise make the almond soggy.
The Almond Joy is coated in milk chocolate. One candy lover tried what I consider to be the pinnacle of the coconut candy bar option, which is an Almond Joy in dark chocolate. He (I think it's a he) said that the dark chocolate masked the coconut too much for his liking. I don't know; I think I might like it just fine.
(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Hershey's.com, Milk Duds Candy, KitKat, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey Milk Chocolate bars
Nestle Professional Facts About Kit Kat
Charlotte Kuchinsky, Interesting Facts About One of America's Favorite Candies--M&Ms, Associated Content, August 17, 2007
Snopes.com, 3 Musketeers
Food Reference.com, 3 Musketeers Candy Bar, Baby Ruth Candy Bar, Almond Joy
Scripophily.com, Curtiss Candy Company
Nestle USA, Butterfinger
Useful Trivia.com, Candy Bar Trivia - Butterfinger, Candy Bar Trivia - Twix, Candy Bar Trivia - Snickers
20-20 Site, Fun Facts About Twix
Connie Whiting, Butterfinger Candy Bar Facts, eHow
The Great Idea Finder, Hershey Bar
The Fire Wire, 5 Facts About Snickers