Candy containers capture childhood


My first recollection of getting a candy container was in 1932, when I was 7 years old.

Mom went to a five-and-ten store in East Palestine. When she returned from that shopping trip, there was a surprise in store for all of us, including my brother Bob and sister Anna Jean.

Mom had bought each of us a candy container filled with small sugar pills.

Bob’s was in the shape of a revolver, Anna Jean’s a baby bottle and mine an airplane.

Hot items. These candy containers were sold in drug stores, newsstands and from Sears and Spiegel catalogues.

The price of a container varied. The five-and-ten store in East Palestine charged 10 cents to 25 cents, depending on the design.

Sears charged 39 cents for four containers in late 1920.

Most containers are now worth $8-$20. Rare ones, such as the clam shell, are higher.

Popular years. These candy containers were first made around 1890. Five-and-ten stores still had older candy counters well into the 1930s.

Recently plastic copies were produced but they were not accepted as readily as the glass containers.

The containers were always the main interest. The candies were tiny, round, brightly colored pills.

Special gifts. Since toys were not purchased often, these glass containers were special to children.

The boys naturally wanted airplanes, fire trucks, cars, lanterns, Army vehicles and guns. Girls usually got baby bottles, telephones, sweepers, rolling pins, dogs and birds.

There were approximately 11 container manufacturers in the area, and many were close to Pittsburgh.

Events, people. Many containers were made to commemorate a special occasion or someone famous.

In 1927, the Spirit of St. Louis was made to honor Lindbergh’s crossing of the Atlantic.

Charlie Chaplin was also depicted on candy containers.

When streamlined cars were introduced, so were candy containers that resembled them.

Some of the later types had paper labels on the bottom and others were embossed with the weight of the candy or described the candy inside.

Alternate uses. Not all the containers held candy. Some had liquor inside. For example, a dog-shaped container held wine, and it said “Cohoda’s Vineyards Inc. Geneva, Ohio” on the bottom.

Others had food inside. An owl-shaped container had honey inside and, after it was empty, it could be used as a salt and pepper shaker.

Santa Claus and boot shapes were also popular.


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