America's Regional Candy
Like sports teams and hot dog styles, candy inspires fervent regional loyalties. Thanks to the Great Depression, the candy industry was booming during the early 1900s, when a nickel was all people could afford for a high-energy snack or meal. It's kind of scary—maybe exciting for the sake of candy—to think we've come full circle, but regardless, economic crisis or not, we'll never stop loving the candies from home.
Sky Bar (New England)
The Necco brand Sky Bar remains the leading candy bar divided into four sections: caramel, vanilla nougat, peanut, and fudge. The name came from the candy's initial advertising campaign: sky-writing. It also made waves in the ad world during New York's 1945 blackout, when a sign for the candy was one of six properly lit signs in Times Square.
From the Gold Rush State, the Cup-o-Gold is similar to a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, except it's taller, wider, and has coconut and marshmallow. (So, potentially very different from the Reese's.)
First nicknamed "chicken bones," the crunchy stick resembles a bird's skeletal parts in shape and density, plus the coconut coating gives it a fried-chicken effect. Chick-o-Stick, which has a much more edible-sounding name, is filled with orange Butterfinger-like peanut shards.
Idaho Spud (Idaho)
There's no potato parts in the Idaho Spud. But the oblong-shape candy has a white center (spongy marshmallow) and brown skin (chocolate) covered in coconut—a very potatoey nonpotato thing.
Blue Monday (Kentucky)
It all started when candymaker Ruth Tharpe Hunt heard a traveling minister say, "Every Monday I have to have a little sweet to help me through my blue Monday." The chocolates with creamy centers have continued to help religious officials and laymen alike get through the day.
Nut Goodie (Minnesota)
Pearson's, the Twin Cities–based candy company, famously first started selling this maple candy for a nickel. Milk chocolate covering a creamy maple center (maple is such an underrated candy ingredient).
Valomilk (Kansas City Area)Birth: 1931 The liquid-marshmallow-filled chocolate cup is the pride and joy of Merriam, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City. Five generations later, the Sifers family still uses the same recipe and even some of the same equipment to make them. One problem: These cups don't have great structural integrity. They are known to ooze out milky filling through fissures.
Twin Bing (Iowa)
Palmer Candy Company is one of the largest employers in Sioux City, Iowa. That means right now, a lot of Iowans are making Twin Bings, the round cherry-flavored nougats covered in chopped peanuts and chocolate.
See's Candy (West Coast)
As a California girl, I grew up thinking everyone had access to See's at their local shopping mall—alas, only those west of the Mississippi. Mrs. See was like my third grandmother, with her sweet white hair, free samples, and square butterscotch lollipops.
Ferrara Pan Candy (Illinois)
Lemonheads, Airheads, and Atomic fireballs—all the best of the nonchocolate league came from a few Italian guys who immigrated to Chicago. The factory is still in Forest Park near the Eisenhower Expressway, where the surrounding air must be lemon-scented.
Charleston Chews (Bay Area)
To set the record straight, these are not from Charleston, South Carolina, but from the Fox-Cross Candy Company in the San Francisco area. They're named for the dance craze of the 1920s (though, to be fair, the dance craze itself was named for the South Carolina city).
Peanut Chews (Pennsylvania)
Romanian immigrant Harry Goldenberg first introduced the chocolate-covered peanut and molasses gob, now a beloved snack for Phillies fans (the company is a team sponsor) and vegans (the dark chocolate flavor contains no milk or egg products).
Goo Goo Clusters (Tennessee)
The Goo Goo Cluster is a pretty big deal since it was the first "combination bar." That means it was the first to go beyond all-chocolate, combining a boatload of stuff (marshmallows, peanuts, and caramel). The name gives a nod to baby sounds and to Nashville's country music institution, the Grand Ole Opry (GOO).
Maybe the funnest candy to say, the peanut-butter-filled taffy comes in original and sour apple flavors.