Chuckles

Chuckles

You are just about ready to head in the darkened theater; there’s just one stop to make at the snack counter. Among the Jujyfruits and M&Ms, there beckons a cellophane package containing five wedges of colorful candy, each coated in sugar for extra sweetness. You’ve just stumbled upon Chuckles, a candy almost as old as movie theaters themselves.

In 1921, Fred W. Amend moved to Danville, IL, where he ran a marshmallow factory. Amend began working on a flavored jelly candy tp add to his product line. Aware that previous jellies tended to “sweat” a sticky residue, he invented a technique that solved this problem. His wife suggested the names “Chuckles” for the resulting treat, and a classic candy was born.

Chuckles candies came into their own around the start of World War II. Amend pitched the product as “the best candy buy in town – five flavors for five cents!” Radio ads sang of “purest candy, tastes just dandy, keep it handy.” The candies, originally round, were sold in a roll of wax paper, twisted at the ends. Eventually, Chuckles became rectangular, packed in a paper tray inside a clear wrapper. This allowed Chuckles to be sold alongside regular candy bars.

Each package contains five pieces – orange, cherry, lemon, lime and black licorice, all of which are nearly impossible to distinguish from the other in a darkened theater. If you weren’t fond of black licorice, it was best to give that one to a friend before the lights dimmed, lest you accidentally take a bite.

In 1974, Chuckles candies were widely seen in a promotion for stuntman Evel Knievel‘s much hyped jump over the Snake River Canyon. The jump was a near disaster for Knievel, but Chuckles thankfully survived the debacle with flying colors.

Chuckles have changed hands a number of times over the years. Nabisco bought them in 1970, then sold the rights to Leaf, which was then sold by Hershey. Eventually Farley and Sathers Candy of Minneapolis bought the rights to the candy, then merged with Ferrara-Pan in 2012, where they now reside on the candy roster.

Alongside the original, other versions have been tried with limited results, from the red fruit variety (with nary a black piece to be found) to an all-licorice Chuckles containing five black pieces. In recent years, Chuckles Minis (bite-sized versions), Jelly Rings and even smaller Ju-Jubes have also been introduced, as well as seasonal varieties to coincide with the holidays.

With nearly a century of satiating the sweet tooths of film fans under their belts, Chuckles has proven that simplicity is often the key to success. If ever there becomes a movie candy hall of fame, Chuckles will surely top the list.

Were you fond of picking up a package of Chuckles before heading into the Saturday matinee? We’d love to hear all of your memories of these sugary, flavorful rectangles in our comments section below.

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