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Disney Food for Families: It’s a World of [Better] Candy

As we celebrate the USA today, Disney Food for Families columnist Erin Foster is back with some very good news about the candy sold at Epcot’s America pavilion!

America Pavilion in Epcot

Regular Disney Food Blog readers may remember that a few weeks back I wrote about my family’s epic quest to consume candy in each of Epoct World Showcase’s eleven countries.

Several of the countries sold a bonanza of fabulous treats, making it difficult to choose just one. (I’m talking to you Japan, Italy, and France.) But I bemoaned the fact that there was very little candy in the America pavilion, and what was there was a tired replay of the Disney branded candy available in every other merchandise location on property. I suggested that Disney rev up its offerings by including “American nostalgic or regional specialty candies” or sweets from an American candy company like Hershey or Mars.

So imagine my surprise and delight when I took a spin through Epcot recently, walked into the America pavilion and saw this — an entire wall, plus two double-sided, free-standing display racks, of American nostalgic and regional specialty candies and sweets from Hershey and Mars, which according to super-helpful cast member Chris from Orlando, had been installed just the day before my arrival. It’s like they knew I was coming. SCORE!

Cast member Chris gives the Vanna treatment to some of the new candy

I’m not naive enough to really think that my post had anything to do with this magical transformation. I’m sure the pace of change at Disney merchandising runs much more slowly than that. But just for a minute now, I’m going to pretend that this was all because of me. [Insert mental image of me enjoying the moment.] Moving on now …

So what exactly are they selling? As of late May, here’s the list of what was available:

  • 3 Musketeers
  • 5th Avenue
  • 100 Grand bar
  • Abba Zabba
  • Air Heads
  • Almond Joy
  • Big Cherry
  • Big Hunk
  • Bit-O-Honey
  • Boston Baked Beans
  • BreathSavers (peppermint)
  • Broadway Rolls (strawberry and licorice)
  • Candy buttons, Necco brand!
  • Candy corn, Jelly Belly brand
  • Candy necklaces and watches
  • Caramel Creams, Goeteze’s brand
  • Charleston Chew (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry)
  • Charms
  • Chick-O-Stick
  • C. Howard’s Violet
  • Chuckles
  • Chunky
  • Clark Bar
  • Corner Store Old Fashioned Taffy
  • Crows
  • Dots
  • Fort Knox candy coins
  • Fun Dip
  • Gobstoppers
  • Good & Plenty
  • Goobers
  • Heath Bar
  • Hershey Bar
  • Hershey Kisses
  • Hot Tamales
  • Idaho Spud
  • Jell Rings, Joyva brand
  • Jelly Belly, 20 flavor box
  • Jujubes
  • Jujyfruits
  • Junior Mints
  • Kit Kat
  • Krystal Roks (cherry, grape, raspberry, watermelon)
  • Licorice Pipes
  • Lifesavers (five flavor)
  • Lifesavers Gummies
  • Look! bar
  • M&Ms
  • Mallow Cup, Boyer brand
  • Marshmallow hamburgers and hotdogs
  • Mike & Ikes
  • Milk Duds
  • Milky Way, Midnight Dark
  • Mounds
  • Mr. Goodbar
  • Necco Wafers (chocolate, variety)
  • Nestle Crunch
  • Nik-L-Nips wax bottles
  • Oh Henry!
  • PayDay
  • Peanut Brittle, Atkinson’s old fashioned
  • Peanut Chews, Goldenberg’s Original
  • Pixie Stix
  • Planter’s Peanut Bar
  • Pop Rocks (blue fizz, tropical, watermelon, strawberry)
  • Raisinets
  • Reese’s Pieces
  • Ring Pops
  • Rollo
  • Runts
  • Salted Nut Roll
  • Sen-Sen
  • Slap Stix
  • Sixlets
  • Skittles
  • Skybar
  • Smarties
  • Snickers
  • Sno-Caps
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Starburst
  • Sugar Babies
  • Sugar Daddies
  • Super Ropes, red licorice
  • Tootsie Roll (with old-style packaging)
  • Twizzlers
  • Turkish Taffy, Bonomo brand (banana, vanilla, chocolate, strawberry)
  • Valomilk
  • Wax Lips
  • Wax Moustache
  • Whatchamacallit
  • Whoppers
  • York Peppermint Pattie
  • Zagnut
  • Zero
  • Zots (several flavors)
  • plus several more …

I’m at Walt Disney World, surrounded by classic candy, AND Charlie’s Angels is coming back on the air. It’s like the 1970s all over again, but in a good way.

All kidding aside, I am truly thrilled with the merchandise overhaul at the America pavilion. I’ll have a chance to share some favorite treats from my youth (Zots!!) with own kids, and I’ll get to sample some old-time sweets that are new to me (Big Cherry). I am especially pleased that international guests, for whom Walt Disney World may be the sum total of their U.S. experience, will now have the opportunity to partake of a broad spectrum of American sweets.

Taking One for the Team

I knew you’d be sad if I didn’t buy at least a few of these candies to try, so I decided to purchase four of the brands I had never had before. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. :-)

The lucky winners were: Idaho Spud, Big Hunk, Krystal Roks, and Sen-Sen.

Sen-Sen
First up was Sen-Sen, which I knew was popular in the 1930s and had heard mentioned in the show The Music Man and in the Billy Joel song “Keeping the Faith.” Joel sings, “I took a fresh pack of Luckies and a mint called Sen-Sen.”

Billy, after sampling Sen-Sen, I can honestly say that I would rather crush up a Lucky and snack on that. Seriously, no to the Sen-Sen. No, no, no. And a little more no after that. This stuff is NASTY. Teeny black pellets the flavor of soap, perfume, mint, licorice, unrefined petroleum, and sewage mixed together. I brushed my teeth twice, had some sushi, brushed my teeth again, and I could still taste the Sen-Sen’s gasoline notes. I am, however, grateful to have expanded my knowledge of this culturally significant “sweet.”

Good for reminding you of the Great Depression

Idaho Spud
The next candy I sampled was the Idaho Spud, a marshmallow confection shaped like, you guessed it, a potato. The marshmallow is enrobed in a chocolatey coating and sprinkled with coconut flakes.

I don’t think I’ll be going back to this one either. I found the marshmallow texture to be a bit more rubber sponge than I care for, but it was definitely recognizable as food.

Inside of the Idaho Spud

Krystal Roks
The third candy I sampled was Krystal Roks, which the box says is manufactured by Dryden & Palmer of Branford, Connecticut, whose website is www.rockcandy.com. Not surprisingly, the Roks looked and tasted exactly like bits of chopped up rock candy. Tastes yum, and I can think of lots of fun cake/cupcake decorating uses. Now that I know this exists, I’ll certainly be buying it again.

Rock candy crystals

Low Fat Big Hunk
My final previously untried treat was Annabelle’s Low Fat Big Hunk. This was my favorite of my finds. The texture is somewhere between taffy and nougat, and the taste is somewhere between taffy and Bit-O-Honey. Overall quite pleasant. And again, I am over the moon that Disney is stocking items from regional manufacturers. It’s a classy move. Thanks, Mickey.

A big hunk of nougat

UPDATE 1-12: Much of this candy is no longer available at the store, but you can definitely find some good options there! Abba Zabba, nikl nips, and other classic options remain!

So folks, which of your old favorites are you happy to see here? Which ones have you never tried? Would you give Sen-Sen a go after my description? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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27 Comments

  1. Mr. Coolidge says:

    If your recent article prompted WDW to take this appropriate and brilliant step, then I, for one, am most grateful. It is an excellent idea to have these candies at the American Adventure (or on Main Street, where they would also be a perfect fit). These retro candies are not as uncommon here in Vermont, where many of our small, local merchants carry a selection of them (the famed Vermont country store is, of course, the most prominent example–you can order many of these items from their website, and a trip to their old-time candy counter in either of their Vermont locations is always like stepping back in time). In the manner of a somewhat modernized Norman Rockwell painting, there are still kids here in Vermont who walk or ride bikes to such stores on pleasant summer days to buy candy (along with plenty of not-so-retro junk food as well). In my own childhood (60s/70s) I can remember my friends and I walking (barefoot, really) and riding our bikes to such a store in our small town and buying in particular candy necklaces and wax bottles.

    PS: I can understand about sen-sen, which I think was used primarily as a breath freshener; I had the same experience when I first tasted the famed New England soda “Moxie!” Whew! Talk about medicinal! Funny how tastes change–I expect the fairly recent penchant for extremely sour candy would surprise many a person from the past.

  2. Dana says:

    I was in WDW last week with my sister and we took inspiration from your earlier post and decided to try something from each country– we didn’t stick with candy, just more of a snack item. We skipped USA because of what you had said last week…lol. Now I see I should have stopped in! That big cherry thing looks interesting!

  3. Victoria says:

    That is awesome!! I love Sixlets and my dad has always been a fan of Big Hunks, but you can hardly find either of them. I’ll have to stock up when I go to WDW next. :)

  4. Becca says:

    i am headed to DW today!! My favorite classic there is the Valo Milk. Really yummy and a bit messy. My favorite newish candy is the Milky Way Dark, which is tied with Reese Cups as my favorite candy bar.

  5. Bret says:

    Well I guess someone from Disney was reading. That is great that they have done this. I do think it will be time for some Nik-L-Nips wax bottles. Have not had them in years…..

  6. Amy says:

    I’m sure someone saw your suggestion and realized what a fantastic idea it was. I love stereotypically American candies and grew up eating Idaho Spuds (which tasted way better until about 10 years ago when they changed the recipe), Big Cherry, Chick-O-Stick, and Big Hunk. I think there more common in the Western half of the country. I can’t wait to see the new display and try a few old favorites as well as some I haven’t had the chance to try yet.

  7. Keith says:

    Ha! I haven’t thought about Zotz in decades! I can’t wait to try one (again) next time I’m at Epcot! Candy nostalgia is fun!

  8. EEFoster says:

    Mr Coolidge – I grew up in a small town in Maine with many of the same “bike to the general store” experiences. I’m sad that my kids don’t have an equivalent experience. And of course most (all?) of the candies now sold in the America pavilion can be ordered online, but there is something great about seeing them all laid out in front of you. Also, I’m totally fine with Moxie and LOVE the Beverly drink they distribute at Epcot’s Club Cool. I guess it’s all just how your taste buds acclimate your experiences.

    Dana – You’ll just have to go back! And I’m kicking myself now for not getting the Big Cherry. Next time!

    Victoria – Loved the Big Hunk. I had never even heard of that one before.

    Becca – Have a great visit today. Let us know what you try.

    Bret – The Nik-L-Nips are such a throwback. I have to say that those, and the wax lips, are the candy I was most surprised to see. Disney is strict about banning gum in the parks. I can foresee some sticky wax disasters with the Florida sun.

    Amy – many of the brands are from the Western states. Being an East Coast girl, they were new to me. Fun to try!

    Keith – Zots are the best! Fizzy, but not as brain-rattling as Pop Rocks.

  9. Pam says:

    Looking forward to trying some of these from my childhood. I’ve tried other things from my childhood (through old fashioned candy websites) & it’s funny how some just don’t taste as good as you remember. And others just send you right back to your childhood. Sen sen is a nasty tasting breath mint! Surprised that Disney put that out there. Maybe somebody from there should taste test it! Hopefully the selection will remain large & not be cut back to just the popular items. As to the mention of Moxie, my 2 best friends are from the Adirondacks & one them LOVES Moxie!!! Can’t understand it, tastes really bad! There’s even a Moxie festival. Absolutely amazing!

  10. Valomilk at Disney! Those are my very favorite candy, and my husband will be so happy to find a Sugar Daddy. Love this idea, can’t wait to check it out when we go in July.

  11. Chris says:

    I love Zots!!! I have not found them anywhere in years! I was at Cracker Barrel a few weeks back and they have all the nostalgia candy but no Zots. When I think about what I will be eating on my next trip ( mostly cupcakes lol) I think Disney should offer a snack only option on the dining plan! I definately could survive on a bagel for breakfast, a Mickey bar for lunch and a huge Starring rolls cupcake for dinner! :)

  12. Galloping Gourmand says:

    I’m from Branford so Yay for the local guys!

    Compared to some of the candy displays in the International pavilions America’s was never worth a stop before now.

    Finally, a little Sen-Sen trivia. When Prof. Harold Hill and Billy Joel sung about the mint they made a direct link between smoking and the mint. In from the 1900′s to the 1930′s and days of prohibition it was said that if you smelled sen-sen you knew someone was hitting the bottle hard or your child was smoking because it was strong enough to cover the scent. My father said that it was marketed towards smokers, and everyone said that smoking improved the flavor of it – even non-smokers.

    According to an old time candy web site, it’s still made on a machine from the 1800′s. I can’t verify that but I’d like to think it’s true.

  13. JoAnn says:

    I can’t remember the last time I had a Mallow Cup.

  14. Erin Foster says:

    Pam – I had that experience recently with Twinkies. Devoured them as a child, but hadn’t had one in decades. NOT what I had so fondly remembered.

    Chris – I like the way you think! Especially during Food & Wine Festival, I could totally live off snacks. BTW, the America candy is not currently counted as snacks on the DP, but I hope this changes.

    GG – Interesting history. Thanks!

    JoAnn – It’s time to revisit!

  15. JoAnn says:

    Depending on the price of the candy I probably wouldn’t use a snack credit on it if it were part of the plan. Why use a credit on a candy bar when you can use on a cupcake.

  16. Tanya, Australia says:

    Fantastic article with great pics! My families first trip to WDW was the time of the Halloween Party in Oct 2009 where we got a bagload of candy that we had never heard of or tasted before. It was a great way for us to sample some of Ámericas candies. My teenage daughter fell instantly in love with Tootsies. At the airport before we came home I had to buy her a few logs of this treat and since being home for over a year and a half I have had to search and buy them online for her. Seeing all these pics makes me want to try every one! You guys are so lucky to have such a great range that is easy to come by.

  17. Rose says:

    I was just in my local Dollar store and saw Turkish Taffy! I was going on and on about how I had not seen them since I was a kid. My son finally told me he got it and I could stop now! I can’t wait to go check it out and remember the good ol days.
    P.S. I don’t think I even liked Turkish Taffy!!!!!

  18. Janna says:

    Zotz and Chick-o-stick are my favorites! (Chris, I recently found some at CB.) I do want to try the Big Cherry.

    Your review of Sen-sen made me laugh so hard! Thanks to your vivid honesty, I won’t be trying Sen-sen anytime soon…

  19. Griffin says:

    Valomilks are just plain awesomeness :) I know you can also get them at Cracker Barrel restaurants if you are looking for them. It’s good to see some harder to find items there in the Pavilion as well.

  20. Alan says:

    Sen-sen was really meant to cover your breath after drinking. It was the price you paid for indulging when you shouldn’t have. If you think they are hard to take – try the violet candy.

    Bonomo’s Turkish taffy was one of the (if not) first candies to be advertised on TV in the early 50′s. You could either suck on it as a bar or snap it against a table and break it into little pieces and it would last all day.

  21. Katie says:

    If you enjoyed checking out all this candy, you should definitely read Candyfreak by Steve Almond! He explores the history and manufacturing of some small candy companies, including Sifers (Valomilk), Annabelle (Look!, Big Hunk, Abba-Zabba, and Uno bars), Idaho Candy Company (Idaho Spud), and several more. It’s a great book that’s all about candy! PS – has a few “adult” references, curses, so not for kids. More for the adult that still loves candy!

  22. Tammy says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! As I was reading through your article I kept thinking back to my very favorite candy as a kid, hoping against hope to see it on your list. There at the bottom was it not only listed, but also pictured-Zots! I have not been able to find this candy where I live for many, many years.

    I’ll be on my way to WDW next week and I will have $$ just for those!

  23. anne says:

    Hi Erin, At Epcot tonight, we met Chris from Orlando. I pulled up your blog with his pix and showed it to him. He loved it! He wasn’t quite sure that he remembered you. He confused you with a blonde who broke out into song at the sight of the new candy, but then he recalled your conversation about the less than stellar selection from previous trips. We enjoyed your original candy around the world post, but decided to save our quest for a trip when we were on our own rather than a group. When I saw your blog with the American candy update, we had to check it out asap. We tried a creamsicle taffy old dutch – very good. The highlight was Chris’s reaction to your blog. He planned on checking out the Disney food blog after work tonight. Thanks for a great post and update.

  24. Heather says:

    We have some cool candy stores in So Cal that feature lots of these candies too! My boys LOVE trying all of the different ones. We also tried the Big Cherry and Idaho Spud, not the greatest. Sky Bars are also pretty nasty. So fun that they have all of these options now!

  25. Erin says:

    Anne – Thanks so much for the follow-up. I love getting the feedback.

  26. Erin says:

    Update – I wrote this post in late May. When I returned to Epcot and the American pavilion in July, there had been a significant overhaul of the nostalgic candy selection. Probably 30% of the offerings, and most of the truly unique items had been removed. (Bye, bye, Sen Sen.) Be sure to keep us posted about what you find when you’re in the parks.

  27. Spencer says:

    Looks like they have a decent selection of USA Chocolate & Candy. That should keep the kids happy!

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