Modern kids sample vintage candy
Halloween candy in 2016 is pretty much decided upon.
For the thicker wallets, there are snack-sized chocolate bars like Butterfinger and Baby Ruth and Snickers. For budget shoppers, there are giant bags of Dum Dums and Smarties and Tootsie Rolls.
But back in the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s – when the people supplying today’s trick-or-treaters were young – candy choices were markedly different. Kids didn’t get as much of it, and any time they found a spare nickle or dime, they’d plop it down and savor every lick.
In Wichita, several candy stores stock a large selection of classic candies like grandma and grandpa used to eat: Circus Peanuts, Cherry Mash and O’Henry bars. Boston Baked Beans, Chick-O-Sticks and Sugar Daddy. Candy cigarettes, bubble gum cigars and Dots. Atomic Fireballs, Charleston Chews and wax bottles.
At Farris Wheel, the Wichita candy store that moved from Central and Rock to Cambridge Market at 9747 E. 21st St. last year, nostalgia candies are big sellers, said longtime employee Darla Engel.
There’s a demand for them still, so companies still manufacture them, and Farris Wheel has a large display of the treats, most still packaged in their original wrappers.
The candies are popular with older people who remember having them when they were younger. They’re also used to fill colorful baskets that are given as gifts at 50th, 60th and 70th birthday parties.
“We have people who take those to birthday parties and say that they sat there and had long conversations about ‘Remember this candy we had way back when?’ ” Engel said.
The biggest retro seller at Farris Wheel is the Cherry Mash, a thick and chewy treat that has a maraschino-flavored center and a coating of chopped peanuts and chocolate. Cherry Mash has been around since 1918 and is still produced in St. Joseph, Mo.
Though classic candies are stocked all around the store, on a special shelf near the entrance, some of the biggest hits are displayed. Tubes of Reed’s butterscotch and root beer-flavored discs, which have also been around since the late 1800s. Valomilk, a Kansas City-produced milk chocolate cup filled with vanilla-flavored marshmallow fluff, popular since the 1930s. Long, thin strips of McCraw’s taffy, invented in Texas in 1908. Drugstore stick candy in more than a dozen flavors. Cow Tales. Charleston Chews. Sugar Babies.
Pricing on the items vary. They’re not as cheap as bulk Halloween candy, but they’re economical enough that they’d work in a Halloween bag for a special friend or as stocking stuffers at the holidays.
At Farris Wheel, some are sold in bulk. Certain individual candies can be had for $4.49 a pound. A long role of Necco wafers is $1.49. A box of candy cigarettes is 69 cents. A two-pack of Valomilk is $2.69.
Nifty Nuthouse at 537 N. St. Francis also carries a large selection of throwback candies, which are scattered throughout the store. Its pricing is similar.
One shelf displays pre-packaged gift boxes filled with popular candies labeled with the corresponding decades, from the 1930s to the 1990s. The 1950s box includes a candy necklace, some Necco wafers, some wax bottles, a piece of black taffy, a sheet of candy buttons and more.
Nifty Nuthouse also sells bags of Circus Peanuts, a peanut-shaped, neon orange marshmallow candy that used to be a big seller in five-and-dime stores in the 1800s. It also sells old-fashioned horehound drops, bags of Black Cows, banana split chews and more.