1941 – M&M’s. These little candies have a colorful origin story. During the Spanish Civil war, Forest Mars, Sr., son of the inventor of the Milky Way, witnessed soldiers eating small chocolate beads covered in hard sugar shells and was inspired. Chocolate sales typically dropped during the summer when temperatures rose, and Mars was excited at the idea of inventing a product that wouldn’t melt. He and Bruce Murrie, son of Hershey executive William Murrie, joined together to create the original M&M’s (Mars + Murrie = M&M). In 1941, Mars received a patent for his product and began mass-producing the little chocolate in Newark, NJ. They were originally sold in tubes, shelled in brown, red, orange, yellow, green, and violet coatings, and only available to soldiers in the war. The candies were first stamped with a black “M” in 1950, which later changed in 1954 to the iconic white “M” we know today.
1945 – DOTS Gumdrops. Boasting to be “America’s favorite, #1-selling gumdrop brand” since its introduction in 1945, these chewy little guys have been beloved for over six decades. Tootsie makes over 4 billion DOTS each year and they still come in the same original flavors today as they did in the 1940s: cherry, strawberry, lemon, lime, and orange.
1947 – Bazooka Bubble Gum. Just looking at that picture brings the classic pink bubblegum taste to my mouth and has me humming, “Bazooka-zooka bubblegum…” Developed at the end of World War II in Brooklyn, New York, Bazooka Bubble Gum, with its Bazooka Joe comics inside, has been a classic chewing gum for decades.
1948 – Almond Joy. While its partner candy bar Mounds has been around for almost a century, Almond Joy didn’t join the game until a little later. While Mounds were already becoming a classic among Americans, the demand for milk chocolate was increasing steadily, leading to the development of the Almond Joy candy bar.
1949 – Junior Mints. With a creamy mint filling covered in a chocolate shell, Junior Mints were named after a popular Broadway show, Junior Miss, that was on stages in the 1940s. Today, over 15 million Junior Mints are produced each day in Cambridge, MA.
1949 – Smarties. Edward “Eddie” Dee, an English immigrant, moved to New Jersey in 1949 and founded Ce De Candy, Inc. From there, he began to create the candy wafer rolls we all know and love today. Today, Smarties are made 24 hours a day in factories in both Union, NJ and Newmarket, Ontario.
1952 – Pixy Stix. In the 1930s, a fruit drink called “Frutola,” made of a Kool-Aid-esque powder that was mixed into water, was all the rage for kids. Eventually, it evolved into “Fruzola,” powdered sugar that came packaged ready with a spoon, erasing water from the equations. Naturally, kids loved this idea; they were allowed to eat straight-up sugar. The name “Pixy Stix” was first used in 1952, when the sugar from the Fruzola packets was packaged into straw-shaped containers. Today, Pixy Stix come in five sweet flavors (Grape, Maui Punch, Orange, Red, and Strawberry) and are still providing nightmares to parents everywhere.
1953 – Peeps. Manufactured by Just Born, everyone’s favorite marshmallow chicks were created by hand until Bob Born joined the company in 1946. Since then, Peeps have been produced in Bethlehem, PA, using a machine, popping out a package of the cute little guys in only six minutes.
1958 – Candy Necklaces. These strings of candy wafers were first introduced in 1958 and have been a classic at birthday parties and candy stores ever since.
1960 – Lemonheads. Using the same formula that produces Red Hots, these sweet and sour candies were first produced by the Ferrara Pan Company in 1960. The process is called “cold-panning,” in which candy pieces are tossed into revolving pans as color and flavor are added.
1960 – Starburst. These fruity, chewy candies were first launched in the U.K. in 1960, making their way over the Atlantic in 1967. The original flavors were strawberry, lemon, orange, and lime.
1962 – Now and Later. When these taffies were created in 1962, they were given their name based on the idea that you could enjoy some now and save some for later, but we think anyone who has ever opened a pack of these devoured them all right away.
1963 – SweeTARTS. These sugary, sour candies have been a favorite for candy-lovers for over four decades.
Stay tuned for more birth year candies.
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Excerpted and adapted from Shana Lynch in Redbook Magazine.