Many people have a chocolate bar, chewing gum, or hard candy of choice but don't know the full story behind their preferred sweet treat. But what's the candy history behind some of the world's most beloved confections? How did they come to be - and how did they get so popular?
The candy brands everyone loves didn't just magically appear. Many of them have long histories that reflect ingenuity, hard work, setbacks, and scandals. Whether a company took years to develop a new product or launched an advertising campaign that seeped its way into our shared pop-cultural consciousness, the candy industry behind the scenes has shaped the treats that the public has come to love.
So read on and vote up some of the more delectable facts from the surprising, unexpected, and delicious history of candy.
The ultimate chocolate and peanut butter combo, Reese's Peanut Butter Cup has its roots in necessity rather than indulgence.
In the early 1900s, H.B. Reese had a family with 16 children to support. Desperate for a steady income, he hopped from job to job until eventually landing at the Hershey Chocolate Company in Pennsylvania. The experience taught him about the candy business.
It all came full circle when Hershey's ultimately purchased Reese's company.Sweet fact?
Aztecs Valued Cacao Beans More Than Gold And Coined The Word 'Chocolate'
The Aztec people - they called themselves the Mexica - arguably loved chocolate more than anyone else in history. Cacao beans, from which chocolate is made, were so valuable to the Aztecs that they used them as a currency. The beans had more value to the Aztecs than gold.
They didn't just barter with cocoa beans; they also consumed cocoa-based products. One of the most luxurious beverages was a chocolatey drink that they called "xocoatl" in their native Nahuatl language. It's easy to see how "xocoatl" eventually became "chocolate," as Europeans adapted the Nahuatl word to their own tongues.Sweet fact?
Pop Rocks Sales Were Devastated By An Urban Legend About Life Cereal's 'Mikey'
Pop Rocks aren't for the faint-hearted - the candy's carbon dioxide produces bursts of air that make a "popping" sound, almost as if it was erupting. The seemingly explosive nature of Pop Rocks melded with another 1970s food fixture to produce one of the weirdest urban legends in 20th-century pop culture.
In the 1970s, Life Cereal boasted one of the most successful advertising campaigns. Television commercials promoting the cereal featured a kid called Mikey who gobbled down the cereal, indicating that he "liked" it.
Soon, a rumor circulated that Mikey's stomach exploded after mixing Pop Rocks and soda. The rumor wasn't true, but it was enough to devastate Pop Rocks' sales in 1979. "When that story hit the country, it was like, 'Bam!'" said former Pop Rocks business manager Jerry Saltzgaber.
Pop Rocks went into overdrive to dispel the rumor and assure the public that the product was perfectly safe to consume. The candy was discontinued due to poor sales in the 1980s but soon found its way back onto store shelves.Sweet fact?
'Lolly Pops' Were Named After A Horse
Like many candies, the lollipop got its name from an unexpected source.
Though versions of lollipops - or hard candy on sticks - have existed for centuries, it wasn't until 1908 that people called them "Lolly Pops." Why that name? Candymaker George Smith named his hard candies on a stick after Lolly Pop, a local racehorse. In 1931, he filed paperwork to make the name official.
Smith's company sold lollipops for a penny a pop when he first debuted them.Sweet fact?