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Stacy Conradt
The Original Flavors of 9 Popular Candies
by Stacy Conradt - May 12, 2010 - 5:51 PM

Candy is quite the industry these days. Everything comes in a million different flavors, limited editions, special colors, promotional movie tie-ins… it can be a bit overwhelming. But back when it was a fledgling industry, you would have been hard-pressed to find wacky watermelon sour fizzy coated taffy. In fact, some of our favorite candies were quite different than how we know them today.

1. Ever wonder how the 3 Musketeers bar got its name? No, the creator wasn’t a big Dumas fan – it’s because the bar was originally split into three pieces with three different flavors – vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. When vanilla and strawberry flavoring became hard to come by during WWII, Mars decided to go all chocolate. Studies had shown it was the preferred flavor of the three anyway. [Join our Facebook campaign to bring back the original 3 Musketeers!]

2. You can obviously get M&Ms in just about any color of the rainbow today, but when they were first introduced in 1941, fans had to make do with just red, brown, yellow, green and violet. And I guess “fans” isn’t really a fair word – the first M&Ms were actually given to soldiers in their rations because the chocolate was a good energy source, and the candy-coated shell kept the chocolate from melting all over. They came in a cardboard tube.

3. The Milky Way has a tale similar to 3 Musketeers’ multiple flavors. Back when it was the first commercially distributed filled candy bar in 1923, the Milky Way came in chocolate and vanilla flavors. The vanilla version came covered in dark chocolate. They were sold separately for several years, then sold as a two-piece candy bar just like 3 Musketeers was sold as a three-piece candy bar. By 1936, the chocolate and vanilla pieces would bid each other adieu forever. In a marketing move that I don’t quite understand, the Mars company continued to sell the vanilla and dark chocolate version under a new name – the Forever Yours bar. It was rebranded again as the Milky Way Dark, and these days you’ll find it on shelves under the name “Milky Way Midnight.” The name, by the way, doesn’t come from the galaxy as many people suspect. It comes from the fact that the bar was inspired by the flavor of a milkshake.

4. Originally known as “Opal Fruits,” Starbursts came in just four flavors when they were first introduced: orange, lemon, lime and strawberry. When branding switched to Starburst in 1967, lemon and lime were squished into one flavor so “blackcurrant” chews could be added to the mix.

5. Jelly Bellies are known for their ridiculous palette of flavors now – there are 50 “official” flavors, nine “rookie” flavors, five Cold Stone Creamery-inspired flavors, and lines that include soda flavors, sour beans, “sport” beans, Harry Potter’s Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, and “smoothie blends.” That’s not even including all of the tastes they have retired over the years. But when Jelly Belly first launched, there were just eight to choose from: Very Cherry, Tangerine, Lemon, Green Apple, Grape Jelly, Licorice, A&W Root Beer, and A&W Cream Soda.

6. Although Life Savers just came in Pep-O-Mint when they were introduced in 1913, a variety of flavors soon followed: Wint-O-Green, Cl-O-ve, Lic-O-Riche, Cinn-O-Mon, Vi-O-let and Choc-O-Late. Malt-O-Milk showed up the following year and was a colossal flop. The familiar fruit flavors of today were developed in 1925: grape, orange, lemon and lime. Anise, Root Beer, Cola and Butter Rum came soon after but weren’t as popular. Really? I’d buy Root Beer Life Savers. Yum. Cl-O-ve… not so much.

7. PEZ actually gets its name from the first flavor it ever came in – Pfefferminz (that would be German for “peppermint.”) They came in little cigarette lighter-like cases to conveniently dispense mints to smokers. It wasn’t until the 1950s that PEZ decided to expand their market to kids, which is where the fruity flavors and fun dispensers came in. Santa, a robot, and a “Space Gun” were the first dispensers aimed at kids.

8. Tootsie Pops came in five basic flavors that I think are still the main ones today: Chocolate, Cherry, Orange, Grape and Raspberry. But according to Tootsie Roll Industries, there’s a sixth flavor that alternates between Lemon Lime, Blue Raspberry, and Banana. You can vote on a new, permanent sixth flavor (the voting mysteriously includes pomegranate, which is not listed as a flavor that is currently one of the alternate sixths) and suggest new flavors on the Tootsie site. I suggested Cream Soda.

9. As you might suspect, mint was the first Mentos flavor. Actually, it was a “peppermint flavored caramel candy” which doesn’t sound too appetizing to me. That was way back in 1932 – consumers didn’t get to experience cinnamon Mentos (in the U.S.) or fruit-flavored Mentos (in Europe) until 40 years later. You can find just about any flavor of Mentos now if you’re looking in the right countries – in your travels across the globe you’re likely to come across raisin, lemon yogurt, cola, grape ‘n’ cream, black licorice and red orange (among many, many others).

Would you have preferred any of these originals to what we have today? I’m not sure I would (although I am intrigued by the original 3 Musketeeers), but I also think candy companies sometimes try a little too hard to come up with the next crazy thing. That being said, I am on the hunt for the new Pretzel M&Ms.

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Comments (31)
  1. I would love to see the “odder” flavors back. We don’t all love sickly sour/sweet watermelon or green apple flavors. I have been able to find rose and violet flavored mints (with an anise seed inside) at Macys here in Chicago. A rare treat. Otherwise I seek out foreign candies with more exotic flavors, Lychee anyone?

  2. Where I live M&Ms came in cardboard tubes until I was about 12, six years ago.

  3. I hadn’t heard about these new Pretzel M&Ms, but I am now determined to find some. Thanks for the heads up!

  4. Dude… I’d KILL for clove Life Savers!

  5. I think – but don’t know for sure – that pretzel M&Ms are a Walmart\Sam’s exclusive. I’ve only seen them there.

  6. I’ve only found the pretzel M&M’s at Walmart. My fave are the coconut M&M’s at Sam’s Club!

  7. I *loved* the Butter Rum Life Savers. I would always get excited at Christmas to get that one roll of Butter Rum in the Life Savers Storybook. Yum!

  8. Butter Rum LifeSavers were fantastic! I cans till find them sometimes, but for some reason they’re in bags individually wrapped.

  9. Mabye PEZ in Pfefferminz or whatever it was called and cola flavored Life Savers

  10. No mention of musk-flavored Life Savers. Found these in Australia; they’re flavored with rose oil. And exactly as disgusting as they sound. They taste like perfume.

  11. @Heather I’ve not had the violet candy with the anise inside but it sounds delicious. Try Choward’s violet mints. They’re really good if you like the floral flavors.

  12. Actually, tootsie pops come in watermelon flavor now too! They have a pink wrapper.

  13. You didn’t even mention my fave lifesaver flavor-Wild Cherry.

  14. What about Necco wafers? I don’t think they’ve changed the flavor since they originated, but sometimes I still can’t tell what the “flavor” is supposed to be. Does anyone else know?

  15. I’ve found the Pretzel M&M’s at Wal-Mart and Publix (a local grocery store down here in FL that can also be found in certain places in Georgia and South Carolina). They are YUMMY.

    @Ashley WHAT? Where do I get these?!? Those sound absolutely delish!

  16. My stepkid Vince just came back from Australia, where they sell a flavor of LifeSavers that isn’t available anywhere else. The flavor? MUSK.

    They taste like Baby Powder.

  17. Sorry, Andrea, I missed your post! By the way, there’s also another Australia-only LS flavor : THIRST.

  18. Can we Betty White the neopolitan 3 Musketeers? Because I would NOM the hell out of that….

  19. I LOVED clove life savers. I was majorly addicted to them in high school but they disappeared soon after that. Then I went to Italy and found them there–bought a couple of cases to bring back with me.

  20. Around Easter I bought a bag of fun size 3 Musketeers bars with a raspberry flavor and covered in dark chocolate. I haven’t looked for them since, but I ate the whole bag in two days, they were delicious. The vanilla ones would taste similar to a Charleston Chew I bet.

  21. re: the pretzel M&M’s: they’ve been available at walmart for a few weeks, but we just got them in at the grocery store I work at today, so, they’re spreading.

    Walmart also has fizzy Skittles, which are awesome, haven’t seen them anywhere else yet.

    I’ll try anything once, and one thing I wish I could do with my life (who knows, maybe I will some day) is open a foreign-candy store. I want to try *all* of them!

    As for what I loved, a few Valentine’s Days ago, there were cherry Kit-Kat’s. Hope every year since that they’ll come back. And that one Easter that there were Chocolate Cadbury Eggs… I heard tell of Orange ones this past Easter, but never found any >.<

  22. I recall that before they were called Starburst, the candy was called “M&M Fruit Chewies,” at least here in California. They came in Strawberry, Orange, Lemon and Lime. This was in the Sixties. The name didn’t change until the early Seventies.

  23. Butter rum and cherry… 25 years old now every holiday they put out the lifesavers story book my ma gets them for us. She forgot one year and will never make that mistake again believe me.

  24. I would definitely buy clove lifeavers! But I can’t imagine what “violet” flavor was like.

  25. Clove lifesavers would be fabulous. I had some nice cardamom flavored gum in Tanzania a few years ago. Spice flavored candy is so much better than the fruity stuff.

  26. anybody remember Zotz? they were these hard candies with a fizzy center. The big ones were called Zotz Bombz. Haven’t seen them in years, but I loved ‘em.

  27. We have the pretzel M&Ms just about everywhere now. They are really good!

  28. I’d like to see an article about favorite candy that has been discontinued. I’d start with Hershey’s S’mores bars (wish I’d have known those were being discontinued – I’d have bought cases of them) and then I’d add Choc-o-lite, a chocolate bar that was whipped with air. I loved them.

  29. Yum! I’d love to try a Vi-O-let Lifesaver! I love floral flavored candy, but they are hard to find.

  30. PRETZEL M&Ms? I hadn’t even heard of these… Exciting! I want to try them.

    And the original 3 Musketeers sounds delicious. Wish I could’ve tried that.

  31. I LOVE the butter rum Life Savers. I got a “Sweet Storybook” last year at Christmas, but it didn’t have Butter Rum. I like Licorice.

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