If there is one candy that people aren’t afraid to voice an opinion on, it is those orange, oddly shaped marshmallow confections known as Circus Peanuts. To some, they are God’s greatest gift to the candy world, worthy of undying devotion. To others, they are more akin to packaging material than a yummy snack. One thing is for certain though – there are very few people that fall into the “undecided” column.
Circus Peanuts have been around for over a century, having been first produced in the 1800s. They became a staple of the five and dime candy selection, often sold in bulk and often becoming stale, which might account for some of the negative reputation they have gathered over the years. Also, there is the strange flavor. Sure, they are orange in color but one bite tells you that the flavor doesn’t match the color. If you’ve never quite been able to put your finger on what flavor they are, you’ve come to the right place – they are banana-flavored. Another food mystery put to rest.
Perhaps not surprisingly, nobody has ever taken credit for being the inventor of these treats, which most closely resemble an ultra-dense marshmallow. Multiple companies continue to distribute them after all these years, which certainly attests to their popularity. And with the introduction of polyethylene bags in the 50s (the same stuff they made hula-hoops out of) freshness is much less an issue than it was in the early days of the candy.
And in a way, cereal lovers owe a debt of gratitude to these tasty little treats. The vice president of General Foods in 1963, John Holahan was apparently fond of adding Circus Peanuts shavings to his cereal. A light bulb went on inside his head and, as a result, the company introduced a cereal with little dried marshmallow bits called Lucky Charms.
So, let’s not be so quick to judge these odd candies. Besides their contributions to the breakfast foods industry, they are obviously still selling well enough to justify their production. And thanks to improved packaging, you are far less likely to get a stale one. Circus Peanuts – a much-maligned candy that more people apparently like than are willing to admit.
So where do you stand when it comes to Circus Peanuts? Love them or loathe them? Share your thoughts with us in our comments section as we look back at this vintage confection that continues to live on, here at Retroland.