Top 16 Retro Candies

Not long ago a revival of comfort food exploded on the dining scene, with mac n’ cheese and mashed potatoes splayed across upscale menus and the kitchens of home cooks alike. In the world of sweets, it was cupcakes, cupcakes, cupcakes, followed by donuts, and then more cupcakes. And not far behind, retro candy! Most major cities boast a nostalgic candy shop, while websites dedicated to the sale of old-time candy have become a dime a dozen.

In the realm of healthy living, we don’t advocate much for sugary, food-colored empty calories–but just for kicks it’s fun to take a walk down memory lane and revel in the fun comfort of nostalgia, by way of lipstick candy and wax lips!

Do you have fond memories of candy from your childhood? Here’s a round-up of some of the good ol’ standbys. Leave a comment and tell us what your favorite candy was.

Abba Zaba
A chewy white taffy bar filled with a creamy peanut butter center, Abba Zaba bars have been around since 1922! According to Annebelle Candy Company, the secret ingredient that imparts the taffy part with its unique taste is vanilla.

Atomic FireBall
Nello Ferrara, the son of Salvatore Ferrara, created the famous Atomic FireBall in 1954, armed with the idea to develop a spicy candy. At the time the product was presented to the candy industry, the capacity at Ferrara Pan was limited to 200 cases per day. Within three weeks of sending samples to Ferrara Pan brokers, orders were rolling in at a rate of over 50,000 cases per day, far beyond the capacity Ferrara Pan could handle at that time!

Bit-O-Honey, honey-flavored taffy studded with almond bits, first appeared in 1924 and was made by the Schutter-Johnson Company of Chicago. This candy was a new kind of candy bar consisting of six pieces of candy wrapped in wax paper and then packaged in a wrapper.

Boston Baked Beans
Another hit from the Ferrara Pan Company, introduced in the 1930s, Boston Baked Beans are peanuts coated with a mollasses-flavored candy coating. Whoever thought of candy mimicking baked beans was very…creative.

Candy Buttons
Dots! Paper strips with pastel candy dots on them. No matter how carefully you pried them off, there was always a bit of paper still attached. Candy buttons are now made by Necco company.

Candy Cigarettes
Candy Cigarettes, can you imagine?!  Now called candy sticks, these relics from the 1950s are still on the market, and are still the red-tipped, white chalky stick with a unique taste. Many kids weren’t so crazy about the flavor, but pretending to be grown-up was the draw there. Trainer cigarettes, ew.

Flipsticks/Lipstick Candy
These old time nostalgic candy favorites from the 1950s, originally made by Flipsticks, are comprised of cherry roll with a foil wrapper. Today’s product is somewhat different then the originals, now they are a softer chewy candy similar to a taffy. This candy was super popular with girls in the 1950s, candy and make-up rolled up in one, genius!

Jr. Mints
First introduced in 1949, Jr. Mints are a favorite retro candy with their creamy cool mint center covered with a rich milk chocolate. Junior mints are the only mints of its kind.

Lemonheads were created by the Ferrara Pan Candy Company in 1962 when the company aimed to make a sour candy that was made similar to their Red Hots. Both of these candies are made using the cold panned process. This process involves building candy pieces from candy centers and tossing them into revolving pans while adding flavor, color and other candy ingredients. The process continues until the pieces become the desired size. About 500 million Lemonheads are produced each year and it is one of the most successful candies of the 1960s.

Mary Janes
Mary Janes, the peanut butter and molasses taffy, were originally introduced by the Miller Company in 1914, and later purchased by the Necco Company.

Nik L Nips/Wax Soda Bottles
Wildly popular in the 1950s, each wax soda bottle is filled with a colorful, sugar-ful liquid. Drink the juice then chew the wax! Nik L Nips got their name because at one time the little wax bottles cost only a nickel.

Red Hots
Red Hots are the brandname, created by Ferrara Pan Company in the 1930s, for the the candy known generically as cinnamon imperials–Ferrara Pan Company, however, is the only company to use the cold panned processing method. Red Hots are hot–and have been known to sneak into any number of recipes, including hot chocolate, hot tea, and all things baked with apples.

Still so popular it seems strange to call it a retro candy, but Starburst candy was introduced to the market by the Mars Corporation in 1960, originally called Opal Fruits. The name was changed to Starburst in 1967 when the candy was introduced to the US market. The original flavors are lemon, cherry, strawberry, and orange–now there are many flavors and themes to choose from.

Sugar Daddy
They just don’t make them like they used to–as in a 17-inch, one-pound caramel taffy sucker on a wooden stick! These monsters are a favorite from the 1950s, fortunately, they are offered in junior size as well.

SweeTarts is a sweet and sour tablet shaped candy. Created in 1963, the candies flavors were grape, cherry, lemon, lime, and orange. Today, the candy is a lot sourer and the flavors are cherry, grape, green apple, and blue raspberry.

Wax Lips
Invented by the American Candy Company in the early 20th century, wax lips have been adored by kids for decades for the fun of giant red lips–they were intended to be used as an ersatz chewing gum after the fun of the lips wore off. The lips are now produced under the Wack-O-Wax brand name. Other incorporations of the theme include wax fangs, wax moustaches, and lips with protruding teeth.

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Elisa F.
Elisa F.1 years ago

I remember most of these. Recently saw a California Gold show that had a very neat store called Galco's Soda Pop Stop. They still carry all the old candies and sodas. Would love to check it out with my brother and our kids someday :) Thanks for sharing.

LM Sunshine

thank you.

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

KS Goh
KS Goh3 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Gary C.
Gary C.3 years ago


Mary L.
Mary L.3 years ago

Zero candy bars, zagnuts and definitely B-O-N-O-M-O Bonomo Turkish Taffy! Great stuff in different flavors.

janet T.
janet t.3 years ago

I miss horehound drops.

Shan D.
Shan D.3 years ago

To my shame, I remember liking candy cigarettes and licorice pipes. If I'd twigged then about what we were really being groomed for (nicotine addiction)... thankfully, I never started smoking. I remember SweeTarts fondly; at 5 cents a roll, they were easily affordable when I was 6 years old!

River Grace D.
Kathryn D.3 years ago

love Bit o' Honey. What about Now & Laters?

Charles G.
Charles G.3 years ago

I appreciate that many Care2 readers are serious, and committed to their causes, however, the negative comments left a sour taste in my mouth. I think there is room for the kind of light commentary that was posted in this article. I enjoyed it very much. Meanwhile, I can click on other stories that are more meaningful, whenever I like, as they are there and ready to be read on the site. Balance is the point of "making a difference" in the real world.