Retro Dee writes about music, fashion and other trends of the 1950s on this site. Check out her blog, Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever here, and her column here every Wednesday.
Just in time for the Halloween Season, this installment of Life in the 50’s is about another sweet aspect of the 1950’s: Candy bars!
Candy bars have been around for generations, but sometimes they were hard to come by such as during The Great Depression in the 1930’s, and in the 1940’s due to sugar rationing during WWII. But by the 1950’s, candy bars made a full come-back onto store shelves everywhere!
Popular candy bars they had in the 50’s were some of the ones we still have today such as Snickers, Milky Way, Mounds, Butterfinger and Baby Ruth. Today Butterfinger and Baby Ruth are produced by Nestle, but back in the day, they were made by a company called Curtiss, as you can see in the ads below.
Many candy bars in the 50’s were only 5 cents for a full bar of chocolate. Some, however, were twice that. If you were a big spender, you could spring for a Mounds or an Almond Joy candy bar for 10 cents.
As you might expect, there were also candy bars in the 50’s that no longer exist today such “Forever Yours” (made by Mars), “Coconut Grove” (made by Curtiss) and the “Big Time” bar seen in the vintage ad below.
Recently, I bought a stash of candy at Hershey’s online because, why not!? It cost me $30 (with a coupon for free shipping) to order the following:
- A bag of pumpkin flavored KitKat miniatures
- A bag of Hershey’s miniatures
- 2 full sized Apple Pie flavored KitKat bars
- 2 full sized Birthday Cake flavored KitKat bars
- 2 full sized chocolate covered Payday bars
That’s not bad considering the astronomical prices of everything these days. But just for fun, I worked out how much candy I could get for $30 back in the Nifty Fifties… If each bar was only 5 cents, $30 could get me 600 FULL SIZED candy bars!
Of course, we’re not exactly dealing with the same denominations due to things like inflation, payroll, changes in the world market and what-not, but it’s fun to figure it out anyhow.
I’m planning on sharing some of this candy with the fire fighters at our closest Firehouse in appreciation of their heroic efforts which helped save our homes from the recent wildfire in my area. All the stress from dealing with wildfires makes you hungry, particularly for junk food. Believe me, I should know!
As a final note for this segment, I interviewed one of my old aunts and she told me that back in the 1950’s, Trick-Or-Treating was the bee’s knees! Halloween was strictly for children in those days. As a kid in the 50’s you’d make your very own costume, then head out into the neighborhood with your friends and your pillowcase in tow. Each house would give out FULL sized candy bars, not those stupid little mini fun-sizes! If you lived in the city, each house had 3 families- that’s enough to fill up 2-3 pillow cases in one night! The only down side were the neighbors who gave you an apple. But hey. Although life in the 50’s was far better than it is today, it still wasn’t perfect.
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As you say, in the 1950s, Halloween was strictly for us kids. Yes, we did get full size candy bars and candy apples and popcorn balls. My mother and aunt always made my costume and we trick or treated on Halloween night, and got up for school the next morning. My favorite candy bar’s were Zero and Butterfinger. When my mother ran out of goodies, she gave pennies and nickels instead of turning off the porch light. Most Halloweens were warm to hot here in Texas, but once in a while it would be bone chilling cold and raining. Those were the best ones.