Years before the public fully understood the dangers associated with smoking tobacco, it was glamorized to no end in movies and on television. And youngsters weren’t immune to the allure of their favorite hero suavely dangling a cigarette from his or her mouth. Eager to imitate the image, but a little too young for the real thing, they settled for candy cigarettes. Now a tyke could hang out on the street corner, a miniature James Dean or Bette Davis, showing that they too had what it took to look tough (fake pack rolled neatly in the sleeve of their shirt). Eventually, of course, nicotine addiction became frowned upon and so did confectionery replicas of cigarettes, which had finally lost their…cool. Today, we look back at this once-popular candy.
Candy Cigarettes were available for decades and could be found in a variety of forms. Some were simply sticks of milk chocolate, wrapped in paper. Others were filled with a powder-coated bubble gum that, when you blew through the tube, appeared to be emitting smoke. Bubble gum cigars also emerged, such as the exotic-sounding “El Bubble,” and could be purchased in mint, banana or fruit flavor. The type of candy cigarette that most people remember, however, consisted of a bunch of white sticks of bland, chalky candy (think “stale dinner mint”) with the red “ember” painted on the end. These were, by far, the most readily available of the bunch.
Contrary to popular belief, candy cigarettes were never formally banned, at least not by law. Rather, as the public became better informed of the dangers of smoking in the 70s, the perception changed among all age groups and kids decided that Fonzie (who didn’t smoke) was far cooler than James Dean anyway. Candy cigarettes began disappearing from the shelves, never to return. Today, they can only be found at places that specialize in retro candies, although the bubble gum cigars now serve as a popular (and healthier) substitute to hand out when announcing the arrival of a new child.
If you had a candy cigarette habit back in the day, share your memories with us in our comments section. Did you roll them up in the sleeve of your t-shirt? Did you blow through the bubble gum ones to produce powdered sugar smoke? Did you consider yourself pretty darn cool? Help us remember this retro confection that probably won’t be making a comeback anytime soon.