One of my close buddies, John, sat down with me at work the other day to visit. He set a Snickers candy bar on the table along with his cup of coffee. He began talking to me and I didn’t hear a word he said. I was fixated on that Snickers candy bar. Just sitting there in it’s brown wrapper.
I’ve also been focused on eating really well. But, that Snickers bar on the table. It was calling to me. It wanted me and I wanted it. Just laying there, teasing me.
John continued to talk to me and I still wasn’t listening. And all of my friends and people in my life will tell you I’m a great listener. I thought to myself, “Why is he just setting it down there?” A few more seconds went by and again to myself, “Why doesn’t he open it and eat it?” He continuing chatting to me, not with me, because I was not yet engaged in the conversation yet.
Then he grabbed it and tore back the wrapper. It revealed that gorgeous bar of chocolately goodness. And he took a bite. Then he looked at me almost startled as I must have had some rabid look in my eye, “Hey, you ok Mikey?” I snapped back to the moment and caught myself. Wow, I was craving a candy bar.
The source of chocolate is cocoa and goes back a couple thousand years ago as to it’s possible first use. Oh my gosh, the native folks back then didn’t have fancy machines in factories to whip out ten thousand bars a day to give to the tribe. As time went on it was believed to be an aphrodisiac. Chocolate contains phenyl ethylamine which causes that chemical sensation in our brain when we are falling ass over tea kettle in love. I’m all in for girls but it would explain why I was alarmingly and longingly looking into John’s eyes as he ate that Snickers. I wanted to fall in love if even for a few minutes. No, not with him. Stop it.
In the latter part of the 1800’s two confectioners, Henri Nestle (Germany) and Dominbro Ghiradelli (Italy) arrived on the world scene producing chocolate. Mr Nestle had a son named Milton and the combination of these men changed our world forever.
The late 1920’s and early 1930’s saw an explosion of the chocolate candy bar craze. And many of these bars were filled with different varieties of sweet goodness. The Great Depression? The candy bar survived without a hitch. World War II saw the chocolate candy bar as having a long shelf life and it became a staple for the soldier’s rations as they went off to war. Step back and think about it and you’ll realize that you will see chocolate bars in many of the war movies. Oh and here’s a great one for you in 1960. Remember the horrific shower scene with Vivian Leigh in Psycho? Chocolate was used to simulate blood. Oh my gosh, I guess if you have to go that would be the way to do it.
Today, all of the candy bars have huge Facebook fan pages, Twitter feeds and enticing webpages. It was about 24 years ago I was having a really bad day with some things going on with work. My uncle asked if I wanted a candy bar and I, of course, said yes. He went to the freezer and pulled out a frozen Milky Way bar and handed it to me saying, “Here, this will improve any bad day you’re having.” The frozen candy bar. OMG! And he was right.
Reese’s and M & M’s did not qualify for this post, though I cheated on one. You’ll see. Btw…some folks haven’t been aware that the blue text in my posts are links that take you to a fun item for you to read. They are part of the story. Click on them!
Here’s my Top 10 +1 Alltime Favorite Candy Bars. Please come back and finish reading this after you’ve bolted for the vending machine. Diabetic coma warning.
+1 Nestle Crunch (1938) “For the Kid in You”
This one almost made my Top 10 as it’s definitely a favorite but when doing a list like this it was soooo difficult. This bar came to us in 1938 and I just love the texture of it. The first slogan for it was, “Music to your mouth.” It was the first chocolate bar to combine crunchy crisps and milk chocolate. It’s almost like eating a flattened out rice crispy treat substituting the marshmallow with chocolate. I love those little mini bites they put out and beware to any of my friends leaving those lying around. You will find them missing without warning. They are highly addictive.
10 Hershey Bar “There’s a smile in every Hershey Bar”
In the mid 1970’s we got to go on a school field trip to the Hershey factory (since closed) in Oakdale, California. Two days ago I asked my life long best friend, Merry, whether it was the 3rd grade or 4th grade. We still can’t remember which year. Obviously, the chocolate treats we got on the tour that day scrambled our brains forever. Riding the yellow bus with our classmates with the windows cracked down on that Spring morning we arrived on the outskirts of town. You could smell the chocolate in the air. We went through the factory and it was absolutely intoxicating to a young kid. The only thing missing was Mr Wonka. Chocolate bar after chocolate bar moving across huge conveyor belts and going into automated wrapping machines. Then coming out the other side wrapped all nice and neat in the wrapper. At the end of the tour they presented plates of broken up Hershey chocolate for us to devour. The teachers and parents accompanying us on that day did not have a pleasant time on the way home with a bus load of sugar infused kids. Good times!
9 Butterfinger (1923) “Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger!”
My first memory to the Butterfinger was in 1985 with my fiancé. When her “visitor” knocked on the door each month she would just tell me, “Go get me a Butterfinger.” Not only would I do so immediately but it was her cue to me to lay low for a few days. It worked perfectly for the two of us! And Bart Simpson echoed her feelings a few years later. No, not the “visitor” part, the don’t touch my candy bar part! The candy bar with the chocolate covering that odd orange-colored flaky, peanut butter center. The Curtiss Company held a name contest and the coined name came about referencing a clumsy athlete who would drop a ball. I can do that just with a pen in my hand. Oh, and imagine being out on a walk on a gorgeous day. A bi-plane flies over low and slow and a Butterfinger landed at your feet. Yep, that happened all across American cities in the 1920’s as a publicity stunt as they dropped them from planes. Oh to have a time machine!
8 Kit Kat (1935) “Have a Break, Have a Kit Kat”
Ironically the name Kit Kat or Kit Cat associated with candy goes back to the 1800’s. But Rowntree’s of York, England officially launched the Kit Kat candy bar in 1935. It’s so awesome with the three layers of wafer blanketed by chocolate and molded together into four fingers. How many of you have had a craving so bad for your Kit Kat that you just wanted rip off the wrapper and devour all the fingers at once like a sandwich? I feel your pain.
The current color scheme and flavor came about because of food shortages in World War II. The wrapper color was changed to blue for a brief period during the war then changed back. For any fans of the reality tv show Big Brother if you were watching in 2006. You will remember that, Susie Verrico, was the lucky individual to find one of 100 golden tickets hidden in a Kit Kat bar that won her a slot on the show. The fact that she was a stripper and lap dancer did not hurt Kit Kat’s chances for increasing their male audience. Very cool as instead of putting a dollar in her thong you could snap off a Kit Kat chocolate finger and use that instead!
7 Baby Ruth (1921) “The real deal”
This legendarily named candy bar still holds a great amount of unresolved controversy as to it’s name origin. Was it after President’s Grover Cleveland’s daughter, Babe? Or for the Hall of Fame baseball player, Babe Ruth? There is some fun research information on it but I’ve always been too busy tearing back the silver wrapper to take that first bite. As my taste buds come alive to the chocolate-flavored nougat, peanuts and caramel covered in chocolate. The aforementioned famous baseball player hit a home run that is still surrounded in myth as to what really happened. There is archival video of him pointing to center field but whether he truly called out saying he would hit a home run is bar talk (no pun intended) for eternity. And to increase the mystique, Mr Curtiss of the Curtiss Candy Company installed this sign in the stadium after the mammoth shot. Still, my immediate memory of the Baby Ruth candy bar is captured here in this two minute video. It’s a classic.
6 Twix (1967) “Try both and pick a side”
Opening that gold package I have those few brief seconds looking at the chocolate bar twins. Knowing that underneath the chocolate coating is a biscuit finger topped with caramel. Mars had it right when it was first introduced in the UK. And, thank you for bringing it over the pond to the US in 1979. Excluding the UK and US it was called Raider around the globe until 1991 for many countries and 2000 for a remaining five. Did you know that there have been some three dozen variations of Twix bars? Yep. From Cookies-n-Cream and Twix Coconut to Twix Orange. Last year Twix went on a hard-core advertising crusade claiming the two creators had a feud. That the Twix production was split in half and that a packaging company is responsible for bringing the two bars together. Now their clever line makes you think with, “Try both and pick a side.” This guy picked wisely here with his girl.
5 3 Musketeers (1932) “Big on Chocolate, Not on Fat!”
I can totally picture Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan each riding their steed through some creepy forest. Then they stop to take a break and D’Artagnan breaks out the one 3 Musketeers bar to share and immediately draws his sword at his loyal fighting companions. There were only three bars (one chocolate, one vanilla and one strawberry) in each package. Someone would not be getting one. The bar wouldn’t actually be introduced for another three centuries and when it was it came at a luxurious price of 5 cents. With the onset of WWII, costs became too high, the vanilla and strawberry bars were scrapped, and the bar that was left to what we have today. Check this out, the nougat chocolate center is first formed into a large slab until they are cut down to size for you and me to eat. But, it has to go through “enrobing”. Hang on ladies, that’s not unrobing. It’s enrobing and it involves those naughty nougat chocolate centers passing through a continuous vertical flowing sheet of chocolate. OMG….I know, right? If you’re outside of the United States or Canada and need a 3 Musketeers fix you’ll need to look for a Curly Wurly bar.
4 Snickers (1930) “Hungry? Grab a Snickers”
In the 1920’s Frank and Ethel Mars were probably relaxing in a swinging love seat on the front porch of their house overlooking their sprawling farm. And their favorite filly came playfully trotting by and they said to each other, “Let’s name her, Snickers.” Yes, the nougat, peanut, caramel and chocolate covered bar was named after their favorite horse. It was an immediate world leading best seller and you would have to fork over a very pricey 20 cents which would be approximately $2.50 today! From that time forward it’s never relinquished it’s title as the #1 selling candy bar in the world with over $2 Billion in annual sales from the 15 million snickers produced daily. In Europe it was sold under the name Marathon up until 20 years ago.
3 Sugar Daddy (1925) “Of all the pop family, this is the Papa”
Ok, I cheated a bit in that this actually would qualify as a pop. But, I wanted to make sure I gave the proper shout out to Robert Welch who invented it in 1925 and 45 years later would bring me tremendous childhood memories. Ironically of all the bars listed on this post, and high sugar being a constant in all of them, the Sugar Daddy is easily the healthiest. It has only a tiny bit of fat in it and is a great treat for those who want something sweet that is gluten-free and nut free.
You can get a Sugar Daddy as a Jr Pop or a Large Pop and I will always remember, as a little boy, the yellow wrapper around that rectangular caramel trophy on the white stick. I would start by licking it a few times with my tongue as my eyes lit up with delight of the caramel treasure. That would soften it a bit so I could eventually grab it with my teeth and begin to bend it like softened up metal. It would become a challenge because it would stick to my teeth and the roof of my mouth (that would end in 5th grade with my braces). That caramel taste was exploding everywhere. As it became more pliable I could eventually bite off a piece of it just to suck on. Thanks, Dad, for all those quarters you gave me all those years to go get a Jr Pop. Or, even better, after your hard day of work you walked in the door and surprised me with a Large Pop.
2 Mars Caramel (2008) “Pleasure you can’t measure”
We can thank Frank Mars again for another one of his masterpieces, the Mars bar, and bringing it to the U.S. from the U.K. It started in 1932 in competition as a sweeter version with the Milky Way. The nougat, soft caramel and almonds coated in milk chocolate were a mega hit. Though not endorsed by the Mars, Inc it was one of the first ever bars deep-fried in oil or beef fat. I’m drooling now. But, it was a special new version that came out five years ago that had me moaning, groaning and throwing my eyes back up into their sockets with uncontrollable delight. They introduced their Mars Caramel bar that had a chocolate and nougat casing around a huge caramel delight. It’s had a huge following with the Australian Football League and FIFA. You think I’m addicted to cheese? Put a piece of caramel in front of me and pull your arm back quickly otherwise you’ll lose a limb. In Kathmadu, Nepal you can get momo dumplings filled with Mars. Give me a plate of them please! Check out the Momo dumplings here.
1 Milky Way (1924) “Life’s Better the Milky Way”
Ahhh, the Milky Way bar is like coming home. It was easily my #1 favorite as a kid and still is 40 years later. Caramel-covered chocolate nougat wrapped in a mouth-watering blanket of chocolate. Up until 7 years ago it was the “Comfort in every bar” and that’s absolutely how it was for me as a kid. It was named, not for the galaxy, but after a milkshake Mr Mars created. I loved the Sugar Daddy, but my candy bar of all time will always be the Milky Way. My buddies and I would ride our bikes down to the mini-mart and slap our quarters on the counter as we presented our chosen treat to purchase. We would then ride back to the park with our candy bar in our back pockets and sit up on a hill over-looking this vast green wonderland where we would play ball afterwards. Telling wild stories of all we would accomplish in life as we took each bite of our candy bars. It was magic.
Yes, I’m still eating healthy and sticking to my fruits, veggies and low-fat foods. I continue to walk every day with Phoenix. But, to reward myself for finishing and publishing this post. I just opened my frozen Milky Way bar. Please let me have a moment.
What is your go-to candy bar for relief?