Candy and Chocolate History Timeline

Candy and chocolate have been around for a long time, perhaps longer than you think. The National Confectioners Association maintains a timeline of notable events in the world of candy and chocolate. You may be surprised at the age of some of your favorite habits – like chewing gum.


Evidence of gum chewing dates back to prehistoric times when people chewed on tree resin for pleasure and to freshen breath.

2000 years ago in equatorial Central America the Mayan Indians used cocoa in food and drink and Mayan writings refer to cacao as "food of the gods."

Recorded history traces several types of candy back to the Egyptians 3,500 years ago. Boiled candies were popularized in 17th century Europe.


1893 William Wrigley, Jr. introduces Juicy Fruit gum and Wrigley's Spearmint gum.

1896 Tootsie Rolls debut; introduced by Leo Hirshfield of New York who named them after his daughter's nickname, "Tootsie".


1900 Milton S. Hershey of Lancaster, PA introduces the first Hershey milk chocolate bar.

1902 Necco makes the first conversation hearts – tiny Valentine's Day favorites with messages printed on them.


1912 Life Savers, the candy named for its ring shape with the hole in the center is introduced in peppermint flavor. It would be 22 years before the popular five-flavor roll is introduced.

1913 Goo Goo Clusters, a Southern favorite, is the first bar to combine milk chocolate, caramel, marshmallow and peanuts.


1920 The Baby Ruth candy bar is first sold; named for President Grover Cleveland's daughter – not the famous baseball player.

1922 Hans Riegel invents a chewy candy called the "dancing bear". Later this confection became known as gummi bears.


1930 M&M/Mars introduces the Snickers Bar, named for a favorite horse owned by the Mars family. It is the number-one selling candy bar in the U.S. today.

1932 Red Hots are made by Ferrara Pan Candy Company. These fiery little candy pellets are flavored with cinnamon.


1941 M&M's Plain Chocolate Candies are introduced in response to slack chocolate sales in summer. Fifty-nine years later, M&M/Mars changed the name of this popular candy item to M&M's Milk Chocolate Candies.

1942-1945 Women working on the Whitman's Sampler production line secretly slipped notes to soldiers in those boxes destined for military shipment. The notes resulted in several long-term friendships and even a few marriages.


1954 Marshmallow Peeps are introduced by Just Born, Inc. in the shape of Easter chicks. Today, Peeps come in a variety of seasonal shapes and more than 2 million Peeps are made each day.

1954 Atomic Fireballs are introduced by Ferrara Pan Candy Company.


1960 M&M/Mars Starburst Fruit Chews are introduced and later fortified with 50 percent of the daily value for Vitamin C.

1963 SweeTarts, the candy pellets with the original sweet and tart flavor combination, are introduced.


1976 Introduced by Herman Goelitz Candy Company, Jelly Belly Jelly Beans offer consumers fun and unique flavors in a tiny jelly bean.

1979 TWIX Caramel Cookie Bars introduced in the U.S. by M&M/MARS


1980 Goelitz introduces the first American-made gummy bears and gummy worms. Formerly, these candies were imported from Europe.

1981 A European favorite since 1974, SKITTLES Bite Size Candies are introduced in the U.S. by M&M/MARS


1994 STARBURST Jellybeans introduced by M&M/MARS

1998 Holopops become the first hologram lollipops introduced by Light Vision Confections. The design on their etched surface appears to change as you move the pop.

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