American candy is some of the best candy in the world. Read on to discover the candy we can’t stop eating whenever we travel back home to the United States.
Although we’ve eaten candy all around the world during our travels, American candy holds a sweet spot in our hearts.
So many great candy brands made their start over a century ago and retain a special place in our memories of childhood. Or maybe we just pine for the basic sticky, sweet and salty flavors that hit the tips of our tongues.
Either way, we’re loud and proud about or love for American candy. In our opinion, the USA makes many of the world’s best chocolate bars and we love to eat almost all of them.
Table of Contents
- Popular American Candy That We Love
- 1. M&Ms
- 2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
- 3. Hershey Bar
- 4. Snickers
- 5. Kit Kat
- 6. Twix
- 7. Twizzlers
- 8. Skittles
- 9. 3 Muskateers
- 10. PEZ
- 11. Dove Bar
- 12. Baby Ruth
- 13. Milky Way
- 14. Butterfinger
- 15. Rolo
- 16. Goo Goo Cluster
- 17. York Peppermint Patty
- 18. Mr. Goodbar
- 19. Starburst
- 20. Crunch
- 21. Sour Patch Kids
- 22. Chunky
- 23. 100 Grand
- 24. SweeTarts
- 25. Milk Duds
- 26. Whatchamacallit
- 27. Ghiradelli
- 28. 5th Avenue
- 29. M&Ms Peanut
- 30. Good & Plenty
- 31. Tootsie Rolls
- 32. Raisinets
- 33. Mike and Ike
- 34. Heath
- 35. Goldenberg Peanut Chews
- 36. PayDay
- 37. Swedish Fish
- 38. Whoppers
- 39. Air Heads
- 40. Goobers
- 41. Tootsie Pop
- 42. Reese’s Take 5
- 43. Lemonhead Candy
- 44. Hot Tamales
- 45. Sno-Caps
- 46. Jujyfruits
- 47. Turtles
- 48. Boston Baked Beans
- Popular American Candy That We Don’t Love
Popular American Candy That We Love
Our American candy list features popular confections sold in convenience stores as well as the best boxed candy typically found at movie theaters. It includes the most popular candies across the country as well as regional favorites. Most are chocolate but others are fruity. As you’ll see, we also included a regional Philly favorite for Daryl and a southern classic for Mindi.
Since our candy options are limited in Portugal where we currently live, we’ve channeled our candy cravings by ranking our favorite popular American candies. We’ve includes all types of candy – not just American chocolate bars.
And, yes, we bought, photographed and ate each and every box, bag and bar for ‘research purposes’ while visiting Philadelphia during three separate trips. That’s how we roll. Otherwise, what’s the point?
While most of the best American candies were invented in America and continue to have American owners, some jumped the pond at one or more points during their life spans. That’s okay. We still consider them to be American candies because of their iconic status and ongoing popularity in the USA.
Without further delay, these are our favorite American candies and the ones you MUST try at least once:
Year Invented: 1941
The popularity of M&Ms is ironic considering that the colorful, candy-coated chocolate bits come in a bag. After all, Americans love the single handed, grip-and-rip convenience of candy bars. However, the real irony is that M&Ms may be the most convenient American candy of them all.
Originally inspired by rations eaten by soldiers during the Spanish American War, M&Ms live up to their tagline since they “…melt in your mouth and not in your hands.” Now available in multiple flavors including white chocolate and fudge brownie with even more flavors sold at theme shops in destinations like Las Vegas, London and New York City, today’s M&Ms would make Frank Mars and Bruce Murrie (the original M and M) proud.
Although all M&Ms colors taste the same, some stand out from the mix. Green M&Ms are rumored to have special romantic powers. Meanwhile, Van Halen had a concert rider that required all brown M&Ms be removed in order to gauge whether concert promoters were actually following the band’s instructions.
2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Year Invented: 1928
By combining chocolate with peanut butter, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups live up to the retro slogan that declared the sweet and salty candy to be “two great tastes that taste great together.” Although combining these two ingredients seems perfectly normal today, the combo was relatively unique when Harry Burnett Reese started mass producing peanut butter cups in Hershey, PA almost a century ago.
What a difference that ‘almost century’ has made.
While Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups achieved modest success soon after its 1928 start, the candy’s popularity and sales soared after Hershey’s bought the company in 1963. Fast forward to the present and it’s not just the most popular candy produced by Hershey’s – it’s arguably the most popular candy in the world. It’s also spawned a myriad of variations including Reese’s Pieces.
While Reese’s Pieces contain peanut butter, they’re chocolate-free. This omission did not deter the characters in E.T. from eating them with glee and wonder.
3. Hershey Bar
Year Invented: 1900
The Hershey Bar isn’t the most popular Hershey’s candy. That honor goes to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. (See above.) But the simple, unadorned milk chocolate bar has remained the company’s most iconic signature product ever since Milton Hershey perfected a unique chocolate process that used milk instead of milk powder.
That process has made the Hershey Bar an American institution and a bar whose slightly sour milk flavor is tailored to American palettes. It also transformed Hershey (the company) into a candy juggernaut.
As American Gen X’ers, we both grew up eating Hershey Bars. After tasting commercial and artisan chocolate bars around the world, we’d be lying if we said that the Hershey Bar is our favorite chocolate bar. However, we can’t deny the nostalgic feelings that the bar elicits every time we take our first bites.
Hershey’s Kisses debuted seven years after the Hershey Bar. The company now produces 70 million kisses every day.
Year Invented: 1930
Named after a horse, Snickers (the candy) has withstood the test of time. It’s also won the chocolate race as Mars’ most popular bar and a contender for most popular chocolate bar in the world. Even the French have mimicked the iconic bar in recipes that have elevated this uniquely American creation.
More than just chocolate, Snickers bars contain caramel, nougat and peanuts. And not just a random number of peanuts. Each regular bar has 16 peanuts.
Cookie fans may get confused by the name Snickers which sounds similar to the Snickerdoodle cookie. However, the similarity ends with the names and, of course, sugar. As it turns out, Snickerdoodles are named after German Schneckennudel pastries and not the candy bar.
Snickers bars were marketed as Marathon bars in the UK until 1990.
5. Kit Kat
Year Invented: 1935
American Manufacturer: Hershey’s
The Kit Kat Isn’t just a chocolate-covered wafer bar that’s fun to eat. It’s also one of the world’s most global candy bars with huge presences in countries like Japan and the US as well as in England where it was invented.
Originally called a Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp when it debuted in the 1930s, the name quickly changed to Kit Kat Chocolate Crisp and eventually became one of the UK’s most popular chocolate bars. Now owned by Switzerland’s Nestlé, Hershey’s produces Kit Kats in America for its multitude of devoted fans.
Kit Kats are especially popular in Japan. That country has a rainbow of Kit Kat flavors including matcha-infused Green Tea. Not surprisingly, they’re also popular in the UK.
Year Invented: 1967
American Manufacturer: Mars
Proving that two candy bars are better than one, each full-size Twix package contains two chocolate-covered cookie bars. If you’re wondering which one is better, the answer is both.
A loose abbreviation of ‘twin biscuit sticks’, Twix has been the candy’s official name in the UK since it debuted in the mid 1960s and in the US three decades later. While it was briefly called Raider in Scandinavia and Turkey, it’s called Twix there now too.
Twix played a key role in a Seinfeld episode called “The Dealership.”
Year Invented: 1929
Most Americans don’t care for licorice yet they love eating colorful Twizzlers twists at movie theaters across the country. What’s up with that?
The anomaly makes sense when you consider that the most popular Twizzlers flavor, strawberry, isn’t actually licorice. Only black Twizzlers has the the special licorice root ingredient that true licorice fans love.
Black licorice was the original Twizzlers flavor when Young & Smylie introduced the twisted hollow vines in 1929. Y&S’ history with licorice actually goes all the way back to 1845 and has continued without interruption since Hershey’s bought the company in 1977.
Neil Armstrong apparently craved Twizzlers during his ground-breaking moon walk in 1969.
Year Invented: 1974
Don’t be confused when you see Skittles for the first time. Although the colorful candies resemble M&Ms in size and color, the similarities end there.
Sure, both are ultimately owned by Mars. But, while M&Ms have a chocolate center, Skittles are chocolate-free.
Originally invented in the UK, the fruity candies have chewy centers and a crispy candy shell. Famously marketed as a candy rainbow, Skittles come in flavors like green apple, lemon, orange and strawberry. Despite these fruity flavors, the Skittles ingredient list does not include actual fruit.
Since gelatin is no longer a Skittles ingredient, this candy is acceptable for both vegetarians and vegans.
9. 3 Muskateers
Year Invented: 1932
The 3 Musketeers bar mystifies candy bar lovers around the world over who have watched the candy’s evolution and wonder what it is. To say that it’s a chocolate bar filled with nougat is incorrect. Instead, it’s better described as a milk chocolate bar filled with a special whipped cream and caramel ‘mousse’.
Mars originally sold the bars as a ‘three in one’ pack with vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavors. After the vanilla and strawberry flavors were eliminated, chocolate swashbuckled its way to the top. It’s as if one of the musketeers killed the other two to become king of candy legend.
Mars channeled the past when the company released a limited edition three-flavor pack with French Vanilla, Mocha Cappuccino and Strawberry in 1979.
Year Invented: 1927
Although PEZ was invented in Vienna and is popular in countries around the world, we consider PEZ to be an American candy now. After all, a plant in Orange, Connecticut produces billions of itty-bitty PEZ candies each year. Typical flavors for the American market include cherry, lemon, orange, strawberry and raspberry.
Ironically, the original Austrian PEZ flavor wasn’t a fruit. It was actually pfefferminz (i.e. peppermint). The peppermint flavor was so prominent in PEZ’s original recipe that the candy’s creator named the candy PEZ, a play on the word pfefferminz
While PEZ has passed the test of time, much of its sweet success isn’t related to the candy’s fruity flavor. Instead, collectors go crazy for PEZ dispensers.
Originally shaped like cigarette lighters, PEZ dispensers have since featured all sorts of animals (both real and cartoon) and movie characters. The 2006 movie PEZheads digs deep into the PEZ collection mania.
The PEZ visitor center, just a 15-minute drive from New Haven, offers an interactive candy experience for PEZ fans who enter its doors.
11. Dove Bar
Year Invented: 1984
The Dove Bar’s relationship with ice cream bucks the trend. While candies like Snickers and M&Ms inspired ice cream flavors, Dove Ice Cream was the inspiration for Dove’s chocolate candy bar. Yes, the ice cream came first.
Leo Stefanos gets credit for inventing Dove Ice Cream Bar in Chicago back in 1939. His sweet creation didn’t achieve country-wide popularity until decades later. The candy version has since conquered the galaxy. We’re not just saying this because the Dove Bar is called Galaxy in India, Ireland, Great Britain and the Middle East. Well, actually, we are.
The Dove Bar is a candy bar with a message – literally. Each Dove Promises bar includes an inspirational message inside the wrapper.
12. Baby Ruth
Year Invented: 1920
Baby Ruth may be the American candy with the deepest pop culture connections. The chocolate-coated bar filled with caramel, nougat and peanuts also has one of the most confusing candy names.
Since the candy bar debuted in 1920, when Babe Ruth was in his prime, you might think that Baby Ruth was named after the Yankees slugger. You would be wrong. Legend has it that President Grover Cleveland’s daughter, Ruth Cleveland, provided the candy bar’s name’s inspiration. However, if you think this story is fishy, you’re probably right.
We mentioned deep pop culture connections and we weren’t kidding.
The Baby Ruth bar has appeared in numerous TV shows and movies with no appearances more iconic than the pool scene in Caddyshack. If you haven’t seen the country club parody, watching swimmers flee the pool in Jaws-like terror followed by Bill Murray extracting the Baby Ruth bar from the pool and eating it is a classic comedy moment.
Ross and Rachel almost named their baby Ruth on Friends. They named her Emma instead to avoid candy confusion.
13. Milky Way
Year Invented: 1924
Don’t feel bad if you’re confused by the Milky Way candy bar. We are too.
First of all, this candy bar is pretty much the same as a Mars bar and practically the same as 3 Musketeers Bar. All three are signature candy bars produced by Mars, one of America’s largest privately owned companies.
Then there’s the name. The actual milky way is the galaxy where we live while the Galaxy candy bar sold in the UK could be any galaxy in the universe or beyond. While the UK candy bar is just milk or dark chocolate, the American Milky Way is a chocolate-coated bar with caramel and nougat.
Like we said, it’s confusing.
The Milky Way name wasn’t inspired by outer space. Instead, it was inspired by a malted milkshake that was popular in the 1920s.
Year Invented: 1923
“Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger.“
While we appreciate that Bart Simpson is a cartoon figure, we totally relate to ‘his’ demand that later became the Butterfinger slogan. We rarely eat the crispy candy bar and, when we do, we don’t want to share it.
Otto Schnering created the Butterfinger nearly a century ago by coating crispy peanut butter layers with a chocolate coating. Although the recipe was somehow lost 70 years later, the new owner, Nabisco, figured out the formula well before they later sold the candy to Italy’s Ferraro.
Schnering’s other candy bar creation, the Baby Ruth, also has a name with an indirect baseball connotation. In this case, the reference is to a player who can’t keep the ball in his hands.
Year Invented: 1937
American Manufacturer: Hershey’s
If Rolo candies were named after their conical shape, they’d be called ‘conos’. Or, it they were named after their convenient stackability, they’d be called ‘stackos’. Instead, Rolos are named after their roll-shaped packaging.
But what exactly is a Rolo?
Each Rolo is a miniature work of art involving creamy caramel covered with chocolate. But hardly anybody eats just one Rolo.
Since each roll has 10 individually wrapped candies, it’s entirely possible to share with a friend or save half for later. However, it’s more probable to eat them all at once.
Rolo candy is a fun ingredient to add to cookie recipes.
16. Goo Goo Cluster
Year Invented: 1912
Manufacturer: Standard Candy Company
Despite its status as the original combination candy bar, the Goo Goo Cluster doesn’t have the fame or glory later achieved by combination bars like Snickers and Milky Way. But that’s okay.
Millions of southerners enjoy Goo Goo Clusters in its Nashville home base and beyond. Since Mindi grew up in Atlanta, she’s one of those southerners, or at least she was while growing up.
Long associated with the Grand Ole Opry, the Standard Candy Company originally hand-dipped clusters of marshmallow nougat, caramel and roasted peanuts into milk chocolate and sold them unwrapped. Owned by the same company more than a century later, wrapped Goo Goo Clusters are now a sweet treat that you’ll want to eat once you find and taste them.
Chocolate lovers who are ga ga for Goo Goo Clusters can take a chocolate making class at the Goo Goo Shop in Nashville.
17. York Peppermint Patty
Year Invented: 1940
The York Peppermint Patty isn’t the only American candy that features peppermint candy and a dark chocolate coating. However, unlike Junior Mints and Andes, the York version is one large patty instead of multiple bite-size morsels.
We agree to disagree about peppermint patties invented in York, Pennsylvania and later produced in nearby Hershey. Mindi loves the flavor combination and appreciates that the candy is made without any trans fats. Daryl, on the other hand, isn’t a peppermint fan and therefore avoids minty candy at all costs.
18. Mr. Goodbar
Year Invented: 1925
Despite the 1975 Hollywood movie called Looking for Mr. Goodbar, you don’t have to look hard to find a Mr. Goodbar in real life. Hershey’s has produced the popular chocolate candy bar studded with peanuts for almost a century as well as a miniature version since 1939.
To be honest, we never loved the Mr. Goodbar while growing up. However, we now appreciate the bar that promises roasted peanuts in every bite and understand why Milton Hershey considered it to be a good bar.
Although Milton Hershey championed Mr. Goodbar, it was actually invented by a Hershey’s employee named Samuel Hinkle.
Year Invented: 1960
Originally called Opal Fruits when they debuted in 1960, Starburst candies are chewy, fruity confections that changed their name after they jumped the pond to America. While we don’t know whether the name change was in homage to the candy’s flavor or a reference to outer space (hello Galaxy and Milky Way), we approve of the name change.
We’re clearly not alone. Staruburst is one of the most popular non-chocolate candies in America.
Typical Starburst flavors include cherry, lemon, orange and strawberry. However, more adventurous candy eaters can opt for sour and tropical flavors instead. Regardless of the flavor, each Starburst candy is square, wrapped and ready to chew.
Cocktail connoisseurs with candy cravings can craft Starburst cocktails and shots.
Year Invented: 1938
American Manufacturer: Ferrara
We’re not going to lie. Our minds were initially blown when we learned that the crispy bar of our youth is no longer called a Nestle Crunch Bar. It’s just called Crunch now.
Despite the name change, today’s Crunch chocolate bar is otherwise similar to the crispy bars of our youth. Just as in the past, one side of the milk chocolate bar is flat while the other displays the bar’s generous amount of crisped rice.
The Crunch bar is eerily similar to Hershey’s Krackel bar. Both bars were even invented during the same year.
21. Sour Patch Kids
Year Invented: 1985
Originally called Mars Men in Canada back in the 1970s, Sour Patch Kids got a new life when the soft, chewy candy crossed the US border a decade later. Not only did the candy’s name change, but it also got a fresh legion of fans.
Sour Patch Kids claim to be “sour then sweet” – an accurate description. The candy’s slightly sour tingle comes from tartaric acid and citric acid. However, sweet is the dominant flavor due to the top ingredients – sugar, invert sugar (an industrial form of simple syrup) and corn syrup.
Sour Patch Kids Extreme ramps up the sour by adding lactic acid.
Year Invented: Late 1930s
Some chocolate bars have nuts but not many add raisins to the mix. In fact, Chunky is the only American candy with this particular formula. Also, its shape is indeed chunky.
The word ‘chunky’ doesn’t always have a positive connotation. That must not have been the case when inventor Philip Silvershein named the square chocolate bar after his ‘chunky’ granddaughter. If she didn’t mind, then we don’t mind either.
Chunky’s original shape resembled a pyramid with the top chopped off.
23. 100 Grand
Year Invented: 1964
Daryl ate a lot of what were then called $100,000 Bars when he was a kid. Was it the name, the gooey caramel, the crunchy puffed rice or the magical combination of all three elements that drove his candy desire? Clearly the answer is all of the above.
His timing was on point. 100 Grand is a candy bar for young people with fresh teeth who demand serious chewing satisfaction. It’s definitely not for older folks with fillings, crowns and implants.
The name isn’t the only thing that’s changed about this candy bar over the years. The classic bar, originally more square and symmetrical, became more like the bar we know today when Nestle redesigned it in the early 70s.
Famed radio hosts Opie and Anthony held a contest to ‘give away’ $100,000 in the 90s. They were actually giving away a candy bar. It didn’t go over well.
Year Invented: 1962
US Manufacturer: Ferrara
Growing up, SweeTarts was one of those candies that we mostly enjoyed at one day a year, specifically on November 1st, the day after Halloween. Powdery Pixie Stix was another. Ironically, as we later found out, back then both candies were produced by a St. Louis company called Sunmark.
SweeTarts live up to the name by being simultaneously sweet and tart. Colorful flavors include cherry, grape, green apple, lemon, orange and punch.
You can eat heart-shaped SweeTarts on Valentine’s Day.
25. Milk Duds
Year Invented: 1928
US Manufacturer: Hershey’s
Forget the name when you eat Milk Duds for the first time. Despite their roundish shape, these chocolate-coated morsels are the opposite of duds. Plus, they don’t taste not particularly milky despite the inclusion of nonfat milk in the candy’s ingredient list.
Instead, expect to taste caramel covered by chocolate when you bite into a Milk Dud. Don’t bite too hard if you’ve had dental work, the firm caramel could do a number on your teeth.
You can find Milk Duds at most American movie theaters whether they’re showing movie duds or not.
Year Invented: 1978
American Manufacturer: Hershey’s
For years, the Whatchamacallit was the candy bar with the craziest name. Then the Thingamajig became a contender for that title for a few year until it was discontinued in 2012. Whozeewhatzit, which is pretty much an updated Thingamajig, entered the crazy candy bar name race in 2021.
Whatever you want to call it, the Whatchamacallit candy bar has peanut-flavored crisps and caramel. A chocolate coating completes the bar.
The Whozeewhatzit is a renamed Thingamajig since apparently that name wasn’t crazy enough. This bar has chocolatey crisp and smooth peanut butter on the inside and a chocolate coating on the outside.
Beyond their crazy names, the Whatchamacallit and Whozeewhatzit candy bars also have unusual wrapper art.
Year Invented: 1852
Since Mindi first experienced Ghiradelli chocolate when she lived in San Francisco after college, it held a special place in her heart and still does. Back then, eating the premium local chocolate treat typically involved a special trip to the Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop near Fisherman’s Wharf and a hot fudge sundae.
Now, for better or worse, Ghiradelli has grown beyond the Bay Area which makes sampling the famous chocolate bar a much easier proposition. Since America’s third oldest chocolate company is now owned by a Swiss chocolate conglomerate, its bars are available at drug stores across the country.
Flavors typically include milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate as well as caramel, fruit, nuts and sea salt.
Domenico Ghiradelli was born in Italy and lived in both Uruguay and Peru before he started making chocolate in San Francisco.
28. 5th Avenue
Year Invented: 1936
Although the 5th Avenue candy was was named after the tony New York City street, we can trace the bar’s origins to Philadelphia in 1936. Since its competitor, the Clark Bar, was invented in Pittsburgh in 1917, our guess is that the 5th Avenue candy bar was invented to create significant interstate competition.
Our personal history with the 5th Avenue dates back to the 90’s when it was Daryl’s go-to candy during his college years.
Daryl was aware of the triumvirate of crispy peanut butter layered chocolate bars which include the Butterfinger and Clark bars. However, he preferred the 5th Avenue’s combination of Hershey’s chocolate and pure peanut butter flavor. Or maybe he liked it best since he’s a Philadelphia native too.
The original 5th Avenue bar was topped with whole almonds.
29. M&Ms Peanut
Year Invented: 1954
Many American candies offer different flavors and varieties. However, Peanut M&Ms are so iconic that they deserve an entry of their own. Plus, not everybody who likes plain M&Ms likes Peanut M&Ms and vice versa.
Unlike Plain M&Ms, Peanut M&Ms have a more substantial mouth feel and, as advertised, have peanuts inside their chocolate-coated candy shells. We choose to believe they’re healthier since nuts have protein.
Peanut M&M originally came in one color – tan. They now cover the M&M palette with colors like blue, brown, green, red and orange.
30. Good & Plenty
Year Invented: 1893
Unlike Twizzlers, Good & Plenty is a candy for hardcore licorice lovers. Despite its pink and white exterior, each piece has a nib of genuine back licorice inside. The combination of the sweet candy coating and distinct licorice flavor is both unique and addictive.
A Philadelphia candy creation that’s now manufactured in Hershey, Good & Plenty candy looks like pills which is ironic since licorice may provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial benefits. If you don’t believe us, ask Choo-Choo Charlie, the Good & Plenty cartoon mascot.
You may remember a similar candy called Good & Fruity. Sadly, Hershey ceased production of that candy in 2018.
An American steeplechase race named Good and Plenty was the best of his era before he died of chronic bone disease in 1907.
31. Tootsie Rolls
Year Invented: 1896
Manufacturer: Tootsie Roll
Keeping dentists in business for over a century, the Tootsie Roll has been loosening fillings since the end of the 19th century. That’s when Austrian immigrant Leo Hirschfield first created the candy with equal parts of caramel and toffee.
Hirschfield named the penny candy after his daughter Clara, whose alleged nickname was Tootsie. Today, the Tootsie Roll Company is one of the largest candy makers in the world with more than 64 million Tootsie Rolls produced each day. And, yes, each Tootsie Roll now costs way more than a penny.
According to the New York Times, the Tootsie Roll was the first candy to be individually wrapped.
Year Invented: 1927
If you wonder whether movie theaters or Raisinets came first, the answer is the former since the first American movie theater opened in Pittsburgh in 1905. But Raisinets weren’t far behind when they debuted in Philadelphia in 1927. The two have been inexorably linked ever since.
Sure, you can buy polished, chocolate-coated raisins at drug stores and other stores. But most Americans eat Raisinets at movie theaters. Some people eat them straight out the box while others combine them with Goobers or popcorn.
A box of Raisinets originally cost a nickel at the local nickelodeon.
33. Mike and Ike
Year Invented: 1940
Manufacturer: Just Born
Mike & Ike is yet another candy invented in the Keystone State. We don’t know why Pennsylvania was such a candy hub but we’re not complaining since we have Pennsylvania roots too. (Daryl was born there as were Mindi’s parents.)
We also don’t know who provided the inspiration for the names Mike and Ike. Potential candidates include comic strip characters and circus performers. Although Mike and Ike split up for a while as part of a publicity stunt, the Bethlehem boys are partners yet again. Phew!
The most popular non-chocolate movie theater candy, Mike and Ikes are chewy, fruity candies that come in a multitude of flavors. These flavors have gone way beyond cherry, lemon, lime, orange and strawberry to include more unique flavors like buttered popcorn and cherry cola.
Hot Tamales are Mike and Ike’s cinnamon flavored spicy cousins.
Year Invented: 1928
If you think that the Heath bar is similar to the Skor bar and the Daim bar, you are correct. All three bars are essentially slabs of toffee coated with milk chocolate. However, the Heath Bar is the one we know and love since it’s the granddaddy of chocolate toffee bars and predates the other two by decades.
Brothers Bayard and Everett Heath created the Heath Bar at their Robinson, Illinois candy shop more than a century ago and originally called it Heath English Toffee. The name later changed to Heath Bar and survived both the Great Depression and World War II. Today, The Heath Bar is a popular ingredient in American ice cream and ice cream pops.
The Heath Bar was originally marketed as a health bar. In retrospect, that claim was a bit of a stretch.
35. Goldenberg Peanut Chews
Year Invented: 1917
Manufacturer: Just Born
Despite their rectangular shape, Goldenberg Peanut Chews have come full circle.
Originally named after inventor David Goldenberg, the candy lost the Goldenberg moniker on its packaging for a while. But now the Goldenberg name is back where it belongs, providing a familiar brand name to both dark chocolate peanut chew fans and milk chocolate peanut chew fans along the mid-Atlantic seaboard.
Especially popular in Philadelphia where the candy was invented, Goldenberg Peanut Chews are what you’d expect and more with molasses added to the bar’s crunchy roasted peanuts and chocolate mix. They’re also a legitimately high-protein candy that comes in portion controlled ‘fun’ sizes.
Dark chocolate Goldenberg Peanut Chews aren’t just vegetarian. They’re also vegan.
Year Invented: 1932
Who doesn’t like PayDay? Not only is payday the day when your money hits the bank account but it’s also a candy bar with salty peanuts surrounding sweet caramel. Talk about a win-win situation.
We think of the PayDay bar as a snack but some people eat it as a light meal. After all, it’s loaded with protein-rich nuts that can fill you up if you’re not too hungry.
After dabbling with chocolate versions for years, Hershey’s added Chocolatey PayDay to its roster in 2020. It’s basically a PayDay coated in chocolate.
37. Swedish Fish
Year Invented: 1950s
You may wonder why a candy that starts with ‘Swedish’ and was invented in Sweden would be considered an American candy. A bit of research reveals that the sweet fish-shaped candy was invented in the 1950s for the American market.
The colorful candy is popular in Sweden too. However, it’s called pastellfiskar (i.e. pastel fish) there despite the candy’s bright red, green, orange and yellow colors.
In Sweden, Swedish Fish options include a black fish. However, the black fish flavor, salmiak (i.e. salty licorice), is an acquired taste that most Americans haven’t acquired.
Rita’s Italian Ice sells a red Swedish Fish flavor in our home city of Philadelphia as well as in other locations in the USA.
Year Invented: 1939
With their malted milk center and chocolate exteriors, Whoppers seem like a unique candy. However, a similar candy called Malteasers was developed in the UK a few years earlier. But, in an interesting twist, the UK developer was actually an American – Forrest Mars.
Whenever we start popping the chocolate covered treats in our mouths, they’re always addictive. We typically buy Whoppers in small boxes but they’re also available in fun-sized plastic bags and in larger boxes shaped like milk cartons.
Whoppers were originally called Giants.
39. Air Heads
Year Invented: 1985
Manufacturer: Perfetti Van Melle
Merriam-Webster has two definitions for Airhead. The first is “an area in hostile territory usually secured by airborne troops for further use in bringing in troops and matériel by air” and the second is “a mindless or stupid person.” As for us, we define Airhead as a colorful taffy candy that comes in more than a dozen flavors.
More than a popular American candy, Airheads are a global creation. Although they’re manufactured in Kentucky, the parent company, Pefetti Van Melle, is a Dutch-Italian company based in the Netherlands. The company also produces the globally popular Mentos candy.
Airhead’s early slogan “a new high in fruity flavors” appealed to different generations for different reasons.
Year Invented: 1968
It would only make sense that Goobers would be a Southern American candy creation since some Southerners use the word ‘goober’ as a synonym for peanut. However, like many of the best American candies, the chocolate covered peanut candy was actually invented in Philadelphia.
Blumenthal Chocolate Company, the original inventor of Goobers, might not be as famous as Hershey or Nestle. After inventing a handful of iconic candies including Chunky bars and Raisnets, perhaps it should be.
Since Goobers look eerily similar to Raisinets, you might as well combine the two candies in one bowl.
41. Tootsie Pop
Year Invented: 1931
Manufacturer: Tootsie Roll
The Tootsie Pop takes the lollipop to the next level by inserting a tootsie roll in the center of the round candy treat. Its popularity soared after in the 1970s thanks to a commercial involving an owl, cow, fox and turtle.
We didn’t like most tests when we were young but we both liked taking the Tootsie Pop lick test whenever we had the chance. Unlike tests at school, this one involved determining how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. Like many, we never found the final answer.
The Charms Blow Pop, Tootsie Roll’s sister candy, has bubble gum inside its lollipop center.
42. Reese’s Take 5
Year Invented: 2004
The ultimate combination bar, Reese’s Take 5 proves that more is more when it comes to candy. It’s also the only bar to incorporate wheaty, salty, crunchy pretzels into the candy bar mix.
Beyond pretzels, this loaded bar also combines chocolate, peanuts, caramel and peanut butter in a handy-dandy serving. We don’t know how Hershey’s does it but combining these ingredients together on an industrial scale is pure genius.
You’ll probably like Reese’s Take 5 if you like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups since both candies use the same peanut butter formula. Then again, most people don’t just like the Reese’s Take 5 – they love it. This under-the-radar candy bar has a small but mighty cult following.
The original Canadian name for this candy bar was Max 5.
43. Lemonhead Candy
Year Invented: 1962
Most people either love or hate Lemonheads, the bright yellow candies that combine sweet and sour in one compact orb. It all comes down to how much a person likes or dislikes intense lemon flavors. However, those who aren’t lemon fans have options…
More than a one-trick pony, the producer of Lemonheads makes versions featuring apple, cherry and grape flavors. Not surprisingly, those candies are called Appleheads, Cherryheads and Grapeheads respectively.
The Lemonheads, an Alt-Rock band helmed by Evan Dando, got its name inspiration from this candy.
44. Hot Tamales
Year Invented: 1950
Manufacturer: Just Born
Hot Tamales are confusing. The cinnamon-flavored candy doesn’t taste at all like its Mexican-food namesake. Further, the chewy candy looks quite similar to its cherry-flavored Mike & Ike cousins.
Despite the confusion, cinnamon fans love eating Hot Tamales. Not only is it the most popular cinnamon candy in America, but Hot Tamales are also highly addictive.
According to the Just Born website, Hot Tamales fans include Ellen DeGeneres, Madonna, Sofia Vergara and Scarlett Johansson.
Year Invented: 1920s
When it comes to American candy, Sno-Caps are without equal. Literally. These little chocolate candies are covered with tiny white candy bits called nonpareils, a word that loosely translates to without equal.
Although Sno-Caps are sold at drug stores across the country, most people associate the crunchy chocolate candy with movie theaters, which is a shame. Not only are Snow-Caps tasty, but they’re also too pretty to only eat in the dark. We say take them into the light of day!
Sno-Caps were originally produced by the Blumenthal Brothers Chocolate Candy, the same company that originally produced two other movie theater favorites – Goobers and Raisinets.
Year Invented: 1920
Jujyfruits are colorful drop candies that appeal to the same candy fans who like Jujubes and Dots.
In a candy clash of equals, all three are chewy, fruity candies that stick to the teeth. Where Jujyfruits stands out is with the design. Jujyfruits aren’t just fruit-flavored. They’re also fruit-shaped.
Forget apples and cherries. Jujyfruits are modeled after fruits like bananas, grapes, pineapples, raspberries and tomatoes. However, flavors skew more typical and include lime, orange, lemon and licorice .
Jujyfruits is a another candy that played a key role in a Seinfeld episode. In this case, the episode was “The Opposite.”
Year Invented: 1916
Just like with reptiles, slow and steady wins the race for the candy called Turtles. Though not the most popular chocolate on the American candy shelf, this Turtle’s history exceeds the century mark.
George DeMet joined the race in Chicago when he combined chocolate with caramel and pecans to create bumpy, lumpy clusters. Though still lumpy and bumpy, DeMet’s now sells Turtles in different sizes and even offers a dark chocolate version.
While other companies may sell candy turtles, Demet, now owned by Yıldız Holding, holds the Turtles trademark.
48. Boston Baked Beans
Year Invented: 1924
The candy version of Boston Baked Beans doesn’t live up to its name. Hear us out…
For starters, Salvatore Ferrara, an Italian immigrant who never lived in Massachusetts, created Boston Baked Beans in Chicago almost a century ago. Then there’s the ingredient list which doesn’t include any beans. Finally, Boston Baked Beans aren’t actually baked.
Candy makers use a candy panning process to create crunchy candy-coated peanuts called Boston Baked Beans. This is the same process used to craft candies like Lemonheads and Jujyfruits. They also dye the round candies red so that they look like… you guessed it… baked beans.
This candy’s preparation involves mixing roasted peanuts in a revolving pan and slowly adding the other ingredients so that they cook together. It’s a multi-day process from start to finish.
Popular American Candy That We Don’t Love
Almond Joy and Mounds were a big part of our childhoods. Don’t get us wrong. We hated both of these candy bars produced by Peter Paul at the time. What we loved was the retro slogan that we still stay today because, let’s face it, sometimes we feel like a nut and sometimes we don’t.
It’s not that Almond Joys and Mounds are bad candy bars. Rather, we both despise processed coconut and therefore despise these two classic American candy bars.
Interestingly, despite their cloying coonut fillings, Almond Joy and Mounds have a few striking differences. Read on if you’re curious or like coconut candy or both.
Year Invented: 1920
Unlike our friends the chicken and the egg, we know which came first when it comes to the two most popular coconut-filled candy bars in America. That honor goest to Mounds by more than a quarter century.
Most people who prefer Mounds bars prefer dark chocolate since this bar coats shredded coconut candy with dark chocolate. It’s also the better option for people who don’t like or are allergic to almonds.
50. Almond Joy
Year Invented: 1946
Almond Joy brings joy to coconut candy fans who like both milk chocolate and almonds. It’s pretty much the same as a Mounds bar but with those two different ingredients.
The other difference is that Mounds have a red wrapper as opposed to the Almond Joy’s bar’s blue wrapper. Other than color, the two wrappers have similar design elements and fonts. If you like one, you’ll probably like the other. Or not.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.