The 1980s was definitely a decade that saw a lot of memorable moments. From movies, Tv shows, and fashion, this was a period of excess. These years were not only the epitome of pop culture, but also some of the best candy ever made. So get in your time travelling DeLorean and buckle up for the Top 10 Best Candy of the ’80s.
10. Cow Tales
Cow Tales – also compared to an elongated version of Caramel Creams candy – first came out in 1984. Made by Goetze’s Candy Company, Cow Tales are surprisingly still around today, and you can get your hands on some if you know where to look. The stick-shaped, chewy candy has an outside coating of delicious caramel with a creamy filling of Vanilla, Strawberry, Chocolate, or Caramel Apple. They deliver a creamy taste of both caramel and chocolate, perfect for those who can never settle for only one. Cow Tales are obviously, not made from real cows tails, but rather from the same secret family recipe used to make Bulls-Eyes, another popular candy by Goetze’s. The delicious retro candy has been loved by millions ever since it hit the market and shows no sign of being swept away anytime soon. They are timeless and incredibly smooth and creamy, but also unbelievably chewy – so maybe it would best to steer clear of these if you care about your teeth. Now the real question: why are they called Cow Tales? Well, it’s all about Goetze’s dedication to making caramel with quality ingredients, including real milk, hence the cow reference. Cow Tales also comes in a mini version, which makes it the perfect snack to bring to the movie theater. While they might not be the most popular candy today, they had their time to shine in the 1980s and could always make a well-deserved return to fame today.
9. Runts Candy
As a kid, did your parents ever tell you that you should eat more fruit? Well, with Runts candy, you could happily listen to your parents’ advice – or at least pretend to. Shaped like some of your favorite fruits, Runts had all of the fruitiness you could ever desire! Not only did they taste fantastic, but they also looked like a million bucks. Created in 1982 by The Willy Wonka Candy Company – which is owned by Nestle – Runts were widely popular, especially during Halloween. They were considered a very valuable commodity to find in your trick or treat bag. Known for being hard on the outside and soft on the inside, Runts are basically guaranteed to make you feel like a kid all over again. They used to have colorful centers that matched the color of the outer shell, but that’s no longer the case. Now, they contain a regular, but still tasty white center. While the original flavors and shapes were Banana, Orange, Cherry, Strawberry, and Lime, over the years, a lot of changes were made. Three of the originals – Banana, Orange, and Strawberry – were the sole survivors of these changes. It wasn’t until the 1990s that watermelon and blue raspberry were added. Essentially, Runts are kind of like SweeTarts pressed into tiny fruit shapes. Many other variations have come out since, but nothing ever measures up to the classic original. For your daily serving of fruit candy, Runts are the ones to turn to.
8. Skor Candy Bars
Competition between brands and products certainly wasn’t born yesterday. The Skor candy bar was first introduced to the market in 1981 and quickly became a big hit. It was originally created as direct competition to the “Heath” candy bar – basically Skor’s twin – but now that Hershey’s has acquired the brand, the “official” competition is over. The results? No official winner, but just think about which one you’ve seen more often and the answer is pretty clear. The two bars are very similar, but they still present some subtle differences. For instance, they’re both covered in delectable Hershey’s milk chocolate and are the perfect combination of chocolate and toffee, but Skor has more of a buttery and stronger taste of toffee, while the Heath candy bar’s toffee is more on the nutty-tasting side and is a bit lighter. No matter which one you preferred, they were both very popular and are surprisingly still around today. Now onto the name of the thing. Skor doesn’t really have an “English” sound to it unless you’re thinking that you “scored” by buying one. While, yes, you did, “skor” actually means “shoes” in Swedish. While would a Canadian company give it a Swedish name? We can’t speculate, but chances are, it was a way to mirror the very famous Swedish Daim bar, which is very similar to Skor. Either way, the Skor candy bar is definitely a candy that survived the test of time, and that will most likely still be around for a very long time.
7. Garbage Candy
As a kid in the 80s, what was more fun than taking a trip to the store to get your hands on some garbage? Okay, not that kind of garbage, some garbage candy! These little plastic garbage cans came in blue, green, purple, and pink and contained the most tart candy you could ever get. The candy was made to resemble pieces of trash you might find in the garbage, but with a much better taste. In shapes of old boots, bottles, and even fish bones, dumpster diving had never been so much fun! While the contents were your typical fruit-flavored candy pieces, it had that little extra flavor that other candies didn’t: the perfect balance between tangy and sweet. Yes, the candy was delicious, but there was another great perk that came with getting this garbage candy: you got to keep the little colored garbage can to play with afterward! It was the perfect size to stuff in your little treasures in and keep them safe and incognito. The Garbage Candy was the invention of Art Spiegelman, the same man who created the “Garbage Pail Kids” – stickers that poked fun at the popular “Cabbage Patch Kids” dolls from the 80’s. While these candies are still available today, they are getting pretty hard to find, so when you do happen to come across one of these trash cans, don’t hesitate to buy it. Hopefully, this one garbage can that will never be tossed to the curb.
6. Pop Rocks
Okay, let’s be honest: how many times have you gone up to someone after dropping some Pop Rocks in your mouth just to show them for the millionth time the cool noise they make? That’s right, probably a million times, but it was so fun, it never got old! Pop Rocks were technically released in the 1970s, but the real buzz happened during the 80s. They were discontinued for a while since people thought they were dangerous – and why wouldn’t they? It is a crackling candy, after all – but they have since been resurrected and are still around today. Pop Rocks stand out out from every other candy by popping and cracking while dissolving away into sugary deliciousness. Obviously, the main ingredient of these bad boys is sugar. Lots and lots of sugar along with some flavoring and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is the secret to all that popping going on. The small pieces of hard candy are gasified with carbon dioxide under super-atmospheric pressure. When the gasified sugar granules come in contact with moisture – like in your mouth – all the gas retained inside the carbon dioxide is released, and voila! You now have a mouthful of fizzing candy, and are well on your way to annoying your friends and family. With numerous tasty flavors and derived products, Pop Rocks are definitely worth all the hype!
5. Nerds Candy
The world of candy would not be the same if Nerds had never existed. Introduced to us in 1983, Nerds represent everything a good candy should be. The tangy and crunchy deliciousness of Nerds came out of the Willy Wonka Candy Factory and were originally sold in a dual-chambered box with only 2 flavors available: Grape and Strawberry. Since then, Nerds have come a long way. Now, you have multiple flavor choices like orange, cherry, watermelon, and even a rainbow box. The neon-colored mini candies are currently manufactured by the Ferrara Candy Company and are still at the top of candy sales. Frequently coming out with new fun and creative ideas, Nerds candy has expanded a lot over the years, and the choices now seem endless. Whether you want the Big & Chewy Nerds, Nerds Ropes, or even the newest addition, Nerds Clusters, you can find a Nerd for any occasion. No matter which ones you get, Nerds are as addictive today as they were in the ’80s. They were also one of the most well-loved and popular candies of the decade. In fact, it even won the “Candy of the Year” Award given out by the National Candy Wholesalers Association in 1985. If that doesn’t prove how good they were, then what will? I mean, really….what?
4. Push Pops
Ah, Push Pops, every middle schooler’s favorite candy lipstick! Created in 1986 by Topps, Push Pops is probably one of the most recognizable candies of the decade. They were basically a pop culture phenomenon during those years. The “lollipop-style” candy was designed to be a novel and unique way of eating a lollipop, and it was an immediate hit. Not only were there tons of flavors to choose from, like strawberry, cherry, or blueberry, but they were also extremely convenient. Thanks to the lid and the “push” feature, you could seal and pocket your unfinished pop and take it back out at any given time. No more waste! You could literally carry it around with you all day and make the fun last longer. This portability and convenience is really what helped the candy take off and is what’s mainly credited for its huge success. It was soon adopted as every kids’ go-to favorite candy, and a lot of knock-offs have been made over the years in hopes of recreating the hype. While they have not been completely discontinued today, they may still be a little hard to find due to their decreased popularity, so you might have to do some sleuthing to find them.
Razzles are probably not the most well-known candy today, but back in the 80s, they were the real deal. If you couldn’t choose between getting candy or chewing gum, with Razzles, you never had to make that choice. This razzling, dazzling candy begins as a hard, sugar-coated candy and finishes as a tasty and kind-of-long-lasting chewing gum. It’s literally the best of both worlds. The candy was first manufactured in the 1960s, but Razzles didn’t start gaining in popularity until 1986, after the brand was acquired by Concord Confections. What most people don’t know is that Razzles were and still are gluten-free! Raspberry was the only original flavor, but over the years, the family of flavors has expanded to include some other fruity options like Lemon, Cherry, Grape, Orange, and Blueberry. In recent years, Razzles have seen quite the revival, and you can now easily find them at basically any gas station or convenience store. With fancy new candy taking over the candy racks, people tend to overlook Razzles and underestimate just how good they are, and that’s a big mistake. Often associated with the movie “13 going on 30,” Razzles definitely deserve to get their popularity back and satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.
Chances are that at one point or another in your life, you’ve either had or heard about airheads. They were everywhere, all the time. They’re still everywhere. They’re probably one of the 80s candy’s most commonly found today – along with Nerds. The taffy-like, chewy, and fruity candy has been a favorite among kids, teens, and adults alike since its introduction in 1986. What started out as a “one flavor only” taffy has now expanded to over 17, each as delicious as the others. The idea for Airheads was thought up by Steve Bruner, who worked for Perfetti Van Melle, a large confectionary. Bruner wanted to give his candy a name that everyone had heard before and was easy to remember. One day, he asked his three sons, “What would you call your friend who did something silly?” After a lot of monikers were yelled out, “Airhead” is the one that stood out of the bunch. The thin and chewy bars make for a great on the go snack, and if you want to share, you can get the Airhead Bites. Airheads are said to have a shelf life of about two years and come in an array of incredible and tasty, fun flavors like Watermelon, Cherry, Blue Raspberry, and the very notorious Mystery White. Since their shelf life isn’t the longest one ever, maybe you shouldn’t wait too long to try and figure out what the mysterious taffy tastes like!
1. Big League Chew Bubble Gum
Big League Chew might as well be the unofficial bubble gum for baseball players and their fans. Back in 1980, Portland Mavericks pitcher Rob Nelson was tired of always chewing tobacco during games and wanted to find a healthier option. Bubblegum seemed as good as any other choice, and his teammate Jim Bouton pitched the idea to Wrigley’s. Big League Chew was being made by Wrigley’s until it was acquired by The Ford Gum & Machine Company. Big League Chew comes in a shredded form and is packaged in a little aluminum foil pouch, so you can choose whether you want to eat a whole mouthful or save some for later. The Gum comes in a variety of mouthwatering flavors like Ground Ball Grape, Swingin Sour Apple, and Wild Pitch Watermelon, but nothing could ever beat the original Bubble gum flavor. With a unique, soft, and chewy shredded texture, it’s sure to bring out the inner Sandlot player in literally everyone. With over 800 million pouches sold since it first hit the shelves, Big League Chew is the #1-selling shredded bubble gum in the world. Even though it came out of the minor leagues, Big League Chew is a guaranteed major league star.