Candy bar histories

In a letter written to John Adams in 1785, Thomas Jefferson predicted a bright future for chocolate. "The superiority of chocolate, both for health and nourishment, will soon give it preference over tea and coffee in America."

Jefferson was thinking of a beverage, not the tsunami of chocolate candy bars we have invented since 1785. Americans consume nearly 11 pounds of chocolate every year. That's over three billion pounds!

Hershey was the pioneer but Otto Schnering followed. He founded the Curtiss Candy Company in 1916. Anti-German sentiment was high in WWI, so he decided to use his mother's maiden name for his company. His top seller was the Baby Ruth bar, named after the daughter of former president Grover Cleveland.

Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms as Chief Executive. His daughter was born in 1891 while he was out of office. When he returned to the White House in 1893, the public fell in love with his little girl. Baby Ruth was a sweet, adorable child. Schnering capitalized on this by calling his candy "the sweetest story ever told." He also purchased an airplane, named it the baby Ruth, and parachuted candy bars over 40 cities. The stunt did so well he repeated it when he introduced Butterfingers a few years later.

One entrepreneur literally fell into the candy business. Donley Cross was a touring Shakespearean actor, appearing in San Francisco. He fell off the stage, injuring his back and ending his acting career. He needed a job so he and Charles Fox started the Fox-Cross Candy Company in 1920. They capitalized on the Charleston dance craze sweeping the nation by introducing a chocolate covered nougat bar, the Charleston Chew.

The formula for Heath's English toffee was discovered in 1928. It has an odd history. First, it is not English. The creator, a retired school teacher named Heath, though English added a touch of class. Secondly, children confused it with the laxative, Ex-Lax. Finally, the wrapper was printed as HeatH, with a capital at each end. Kids thought it meant "eat H and H."

Peter Paul Halajian invited four friends to join him in a new candy company. Who would buy the product of the Halajian, Kazanjian, Hagopian, Kamlian, and Kazanjian company. Probably nobody. To get away from those unpronounceable names, the partners voted to use Halajian's two given names.

The Peter Paul Candy Company has flourished since starting in a loft in New Haven, Connecticut in 1919. Their first big seller was Peter Paul's Mounds, made from shredded coconut and dark chocolate. It sold so well they kept the basic formula but topped each bar with two almonds and introduced the Almond Joy.

Snickers were invented in the family kitchen in Tacoma, Washington by Frank C. Mars and his wife. Their son, Forrest, carried on the family tradition by starting his own company. He and Bruce Murrie decided to use the first letter of their family names to create MM's.

This candy bar was born, blossomed, and died. Baseball legend Reggie Jackson is known as "Mr. October" for the record number of home runs he hit in the World Series. A candy manufacturer marketed a candy bar named for him. It was a profitable gimmick for years but as his batting average declined, so did sales and the Reggie bar was discontinued.

Instead of a recipe, here are some little known facts. Switzerland was the world champion chocolate eaters until 2001, with an average of 22 pounds. Ireland took the crown. No wonder Irish eyes are smiling. They drink copious amounts of Irish whiskey and Guiness beer and consume 24 pounds of chocolate every year.

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