The gum and candy industry is full of all sorts of imaginative products. From novelty treats in weird shapes, sizes, and flavors to promotional candies based on current trends or popular celebrities, the world of gum and candy has been incredibly diverse in the 100+ years since Black Jack, Beemans, and Clove arrived on the scene. The United States alone boasts a dizzying array of candy sold then and now, while your options overseas become even more varied and unique.
Fortunately and unfortunately, not every gum or candy idea finds success...or remains successful. In fact, the 70s, 80s, and 90s produced all sorts of fun and distinct candies that have since been lost to time. To celebrate the rich history of gum and candy in the United States, we’ve gathered together 4 of the most memorable or most bizarre of those forgotten treats.
Bubble Beepers were one of the most distinctly 90s gum products ever produced. These flavored sticks of gum packaged inside a paperboard “beeper” were all the rage while everyone waited for cell phones to be invented. The sticks of gum included standard beeper response templates, such as “See You Later!” or “Sorry, Line’s Busy!”.
Believe it or not, the iconic and originally fictional chocolate bars from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory never sold well enough to stay in production. In fact, at recent screenings of the musical adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, there was not a single Wonka-themed candy available at the event’s concessions—they were all discontinued.
Garbage Can-dy was a toy-and-candy fusion, a packaging practice that was perfected by PEZ and increasingly popular throughout the 80s and early 90s. The candy came in a colorful plastic trash can with a pop-open lid. Inside, the differently flavored candies were shaped like old tennis shoes, fish bones, bottles, and empty cans. Once the fads of the early 90s started to pass us by, the novelty of “trash candy” and plastic trinkets became a thing of the past.
Spice Girls Lollipops
By 1997, the Spice Girls were not only a famous pop music group—they were a global brand. Their personalities spawned everything from a line of cosmetics to a music-based video game and full-length movie, both aptly titled Spice World. In the world of candy, the Spice Girls gave rise to a line of strawberry-flavored lollipops, each partnered with a sticker of one of the group members.
The list goes on and on, and this is just going as far back as the early 70s. By then, Black Jack was already 90 years old! If you’re interested in more of the historical specifics around Black Jack, Beemans, and Clove, you can browse our online timeline. To find these vintage gums in a store near you, check out our store locator.