Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"Only candy and flowers from a gentleman, dear"

Scarlett O'Hara's mother may have warned her not to accept expensive gifts, but what sort of candy would her beaux bring her?

He might have brought peppermints. He might have brought taffy (very popular) or molasses candy. Almond candy and chocolate caramels would have been more rare. Sugar plums were primarily for holidays. Stick candy, hard candy, ribbon candy were all fairly common.

According to the Retro Candy Timeline
Chewing gum first appeared in 1848. It was spruce flavored
Whitman's Chocolates debuted in 1854
Cadbury made the first Valentine's Day chocolates in 1868
Candy corn came about in the 1880s
Juicy Fruit and Wrigley's Spearmint gum showed up in 1893, and after almost 50 years of chewing on pine trees, people rejoiced!
Tootsie Rolls arrived in 1896
In 1900, the first Hershey bar was made

This timeline pouts Necco wafers as 1901, but I've seen other histories date them to 1847. They're made by the New England Confectionary Company, the same folks who make the Conversation Hearts at Valentine's (introduced in 1902)  I included them in a western, since the history says Union soldiers carried them, calling them  "hub wafers."  I like the cinnamon, wintergreen and clove ones best.

1904 Brach's caramels
1906 Hershey's Kisses
1912 Lifesavers
1913 Googoo clusters
1914, The Heath bar
1922, The Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.

So yes, your handsome young steampunk man can be extravagant and bring his lady chocolate.

It will be more affordable after the turn of the century, though. A Hershey bar in 1908 cost 2 cents. The average wage was 22c/hour.  It would have cost him 5 and a half minutes of work to bring his lady a chocolate bar.  These days, that translates to about 75c. (So why are Hershey bars 89c?)

Your cowboy might encounter "Chickenfeed" or candy corn at the local general store. Your prospector might order in Necco wafers for the young thing he's sparking.

And the Inventor's Club can have a bowl of tootsie rolls on the meeting table.

Some fun links:

Candy favorites through the 1960s

Vintage ads. Check out the one for Hasheesh Candy. yes, exactly what it sounds like.

Make your own Victorian Candy

Victorian Christmas Candy

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