November 16, 2020
Learn the story behind your favorite chocolate candy bars in this timeline of the most beloved and craved treats, over a century in the making.
One of the most interesting history lessons (or the best one, if you’re a chocolate fan) is the candy bar. Candy bars are everywhere, and there’s an endless variety of them. We may even take them for granted. But where did these treats originate? What’s their story?
We wanted to find out, so we dug deep into candy bar history and built a timeline for you to enjoy. Now, this is some fun—and mouthwatering—history to read.
1900: Hershey’s Milk Chocolate
The OG of the bunch, the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar (a.k.a. “The Great American Chocolate Bar”) was first released in 1900.
This turn-of-the-century treat, considered the best American chocolate, was the first mass-produced chocolate bar in the United States. Created by Milton Hershey using his “Hershey Process,” the first bars blended in fresh milk from local farms. That’s pretty much all we know about this process because the rest of the recipe is a closely guarded trade secret.
While we may never know what gives these creamy milk chocolate bars their unique flavor, Milton was right when he said, “There’s a smile in every Hershey Bar.” They keep us smiling to this day.
Mounds bars are packed with sweetened, shredded coconut and coated in rich chocolate. This sugary creation from the 1920s hails from West Haven, Connecticut.
Candy maker Vincent Nitido originally sold them for just 5 cents each. Then, in 1929, the Peter Paul Manufacturing Company purchased rights to the treat, and large-scale production began. Mounds bars stayed in production throughout World War II despite sugar shortages and compromised supply lines. That’s how much America treasures its sweets.
1920: Baby Ruth
In 1920, the Curtiss Candy Company redesigned its Kandy Kake confection and rebranded it as the Baby Ruth bar. This seems to have been a smart choice, since Baby Ruth hit it big, becoming the single best-selling 5-cent candy bar of the Roaring Twenties.
Then, Baby Ruth became controversial. Did the Curtiss Company use baseball player Babe Ruth’s name without providing royalties? Or was the bar named in honor of President Grover Cleveland’s daughter, Ruth?
We may never know the truth, but that doesn’t sour the taste of this delicious creation.
The sweet and crunchy Butterfinger bar, like the Baby Ruth, is another invention of the Curtiss Candy Company. Founder Otto Schnering came up with this masterpiece in 1923 through a naming contest the company had held the year before.
The Butterfinger bar was one of the first heavily-marketed candies with a product placement in the 1934 Shirley Temple film Baby Take a Bow and the literal dropping of Butterfingers on cities across the country. The company chose to drop Butterfingers and Baby Ruths from airplanes in cities across the United States to increase their popularity.
Watch your head the next time you go out. You never know when it may rain chocolate.
1924: Milky Way
This chocolate-covered, caramelly nougat bar created by candy mogul Frank C. Mars. After its 1924 release, Mars Inc. brought in a staggering $800,000 in revenue by year’s end—well over $10 million in today’s dollars.
Needless to say, the “three great tastes in a Milky Way” came together in one of the most popular chocolate bars of all time.
Another classic chocolate bar with Hershey, Pennsylvania roots is the Reese’s Cup. This peanut butter delight was invented in 1928 by H.B Reese, whose experience as a dairy farmer and Hershey Company employee led him to start his own candy company out of his basement.
He made many creations with Hershey’s chocolate, but it was the Reese’s peanut butter cup that really took off. The name “Reese” remains synonymous with this delicacy, and it remains one of the most purchased candies of all time.
Yet another iconic chocolate bar invented by the legendary Franklin Mars and Mars Inc. was released in 1930. This iconic candy bar is named after the Mars family’s favorite horse, Snickers. Until 1990, there was even a U.K. version of this classic, known as the “Marathon.”
1932: 3 Musketeers
This Alexandre-Dumas-inspired 3 Musketeers bar was the Mars Company’s (later Mars Inc.) third product release.
Back then, this bar came in three pieces, each a different flavor: vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. Once World War II began, shortages and rationing meant dropping the three-flavor version to a single bar filled with whipped chocolate nougat. That change worked out in the long run, because the candy remains that way to this day.
1935: Kit Kat
With the American love of sweets at an all-time high in the 1930s, you may expect the Kit Kat to be from the States. But that’s not the case: A British candy company invented the Kit Kat bar in 1935.
Initially named the “Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp,” this four-finger bar became the “Kit Kat Chocolate Crisp” in 1937. In the post-war era, the name was shortened to “Kit Kat.”
1939: Dove Milk Chocolate
The Dove chocolate bar began as a chocolate-coated ice cream treat. In 1939, Leo Stefanos, an ice cream shop owner in Chicago, invented the “DOVEBAR.”
Stefanos’ Dove Candies & Ice Cream became a powerhouse, selling 1 million bars annually by the 1970s. The non-ice cream Dove bar was marketed first in the U.K. in the 1960s as the “Galaxy.” In 1986, Mars Inc. purchased Dove Candies & Ice Cream, and the modern Dove chocolate bar became a household name.
1948: Almond Joy
Like Mounds bars, the Almond Joy was created by the Peter Paul Manufacturing Company. The brand enjoyed great success from its Mounds bar during World War II, and in 1948, in response to consumer demand, it released the Almond Joy.
In 1970, the brand landed on its iconic catchphrase, “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t,” which was part of a jingle by Leon Carr.
1960s: 100 Grand
The “Hundred Thousand Dollar Bar,” as it was originally known, is a child of the 1960s. While this bar’s exact launch date is unclear, Nestle patents suggest it was around 1964. This bar blends crunchy crisped rice for a light and airy bite infused with caramel and milk chocolate.
People began referring to it as the “100 grand” bar, and jokes and pranks ensued. Radio programs would tell contest winners that they’d won 100 grand—in chocolate, of course.
The Twix bar is another U.K. creation that later entered the U.S. market. Mars Inc. created the “Raider” in its British factories in1967, combining a butter cookie, caramel, and milk chocolate.
Mars then launched the Peanut Butter Twix in 1983, much to consumers’ delight. Even today, Mars continues to roll out new flavors like Coffee or Cookies & Creme.
1994: Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme
The Hershey’s Cookies ’n’ Creme bar was an instant hit with 90s kids. Now, it’s the ultimate nostalgia candy: part Oreo cookie, part white chocolate bar.
Cookies ’n’ Creme proved so popular that Hershey’s went on to use the ingredients in other products, like Hershey’s Drops and even Cookies ’n’ Creme Cereal. Yes, it’s totally acceptable to eat candy for breakfast.
The 10 Best Chocolate Bars Ever
Check out our list of the absolute best chocolate, ranked. This list is subjective, so feel free to reorder it based on your own preferences.
- Kit Kat: A chocolate wafer bar that’s stood the test of time.
- Twix: Caramel and cookie that come together for an unbeatable texture.
- Toblerone: This candy transports you to the Swiss Alps with its creamy texture and unique mountain-shaped pieces.
- Snickers: There are few combinations quite as delicious as peanuts and caramel.
- Kinder Bueno: Don’t choose between a chocolate bar or Nutella. Enjoy both flavors in this airy bar filled with hazelnut cream.
- Lindt Truffles: This premium treat with a buttery filling is perfect for when you’re feeling fancy. Don’t miss out on their gourmet chocolate bars, especially the sea salt one.
- Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Cream: This nostalgic mix of cream and chocolate reminds us of the cookies of our youth.
- M&Ms: Not quite a bar, but we’ll let that slide. These melt-in-your-mouth morsels combine crunch and creaminess.
- Hershey’s Bar: Everyone loves a classic, and this is the chocolate bar. It now also comes in a range of flavors and with different mix-ins like crispy almonds.
- Ghirardelli: This San-Francisco candy maker is responsible for giving us not only rich dark chocolate bars but creamy peppermint bark. They’ve also branched out into brownie production, so you can enjoy their chocolate in both snacks and dessert.
Craving your favorite chocolate bar? Gopuff has you covered. We can have any of these top chocolate bars delivered to your door in a matter of minutes.