The story begins in 1917 when the Goldenberg Candy Company developed Peanut Chews as rations for the U.S. military during World War I. The high protein content and winning taste combination of chocolate, peanuts, and molasses made it an instant hit with American troops. When the candy was first made available to civilians in 1921, its wrapper was a simple chocolate brown with a red stripe and blue star. Because Goldenberg's was based in Philadelphia, residents of the city and the surrounding area developed serious Peanut Chew pride as the product gained popularity across the northeast.
When Just Born (the maker of marshmallow Peeps), bought the Goldenberg Candy Company in 2003, the old Peanut Chews wrapper was scrapped. They dropped the Goldenberg's name from the label, added comic book-like lettering and a new-fangled illustration of the candy. For some longtime Peanut Chews fans, the new design was hard to swallow. Some weren't even sure it was the same product inside. Sales plummeted.
So last November, Just Born went back to the basics. They redesigned the label again, this time with an eye toward the past, to let Peanut Chews devotees know their favorite candy was still the same on the inside. The new packaging looks a lot like the original design, with the original color scheme, and "Since 1917" written inside the iconic blue star. In a new shout-out to the Peanut Chews city of origin, the barcode on the package is in the shape of the Philadelphia skyline. And most perhaps most importantly, the Goldberg's name is back on the wrapper in bold letters. New ads that are popping up all over Philadelphia call attention to the retro look with the slogan "Chewin' It Old School."
The story of this classic candy gives us something to chew on: The wrapper might not make the candy, but it just might be a big part of what we love about it.
Have you ever had a Peanut Chew before? Got any memories of eating them?
About the author: Lee Zalben was a PB&J-loving kid that grew up to be the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co., which began as a Greenwich Village sandwich shop serving nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and expanded to include the now-famous line of all natural flavored peanut butter. Lee is a graduate of Vassar College and enjoys traveling the world in search of interesting foods made with peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds. When he's not working, eating, flying or writing, he enjoys scuba diving and training elephants.