A candy bar frequently, though not necessarily, includes chocolate. A combination candy bar is one that contains chocolate plus other ingredients, such as nuts or nougat. The Goo Goo Cluster was the first mass-produced combination bar.
The earliest recorded candy bar was made in 1847 by Joseph Fry, a Quaker from Bristol, England. He discovered a way to mix the ingredients of cocoa powder, sugar and cocoa to manufacture a paste that could then be molded into a proper candy bar for consumption. His chocolate factory, Fry's, began mass-producing candy bars, launching the Fry's Chocolate Cream bar in 1866. Inspired by Fry, John Cadbury, founder of Cadbury, introduced his brand of the candy bar in 1849. That same year, Fry and Cadbury candy bars were displayed publicly at a trade fair in Bingley Hall, Birmingham. In addition to Cadbury and Fry, Rowntree's and Terry's were major British chocolate companies, as chocolate manufacturing expanded in England throughout the rest of the century.
Candy bars were originally made from only cocoa powder and sugar. During the latter part of the nineteenth century, confectioners began to experiment with other ingredients. Swiss confectioner, Henry Nestle, added milk to his chocolate recipe to reduce the bitterness of the cocoa. Rodolphe Lindt, a Swiss confectioner and inventor, began adding cocoa butter as an ingredient in 1879. The addition of cocoa butter allowed the chocolate bar to keep its shape and melt in the mouth. In the United States, immigrants who arrived with candy-making skills drove the development of new candy bars. Milton S. Hershey, a Pennsylvania caramel maker, saw a German-manufactured chocolate-making machine at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. He immediately ordered one for his Lancaster factory and produced the first American-made milk chocolate bar. In 1897, following the lead of Swiss companies, Cadbury introduced its own line of milk chocolate bars, with Cadbury Dairy Milk, produced in 1905, becoming the company's best selling bar in the UK.
The chocolate bar became popular in the U.S. during World War I, when the U.S. Army commissioned a number of American chocolate makers to produce 40 pound blocks of chocolate. These were shipped to Army quartermaster bases and distributed to the troops stationed throughout Europe. When the soldiers returned home, they demanded chocolate, and the future of the candy bar in the U.S. was assured. The first combination bar, marketed primarily in the South, was the Goo Goo Cluster, produced by the Standard Candy Company of Nashville, Tennessee in 1912. It was made of caramel, marshmallow, and peanuts, covered with milk chocolate. The Clark Bar, a crispy core with caramel and peanut butter covered with milk chocolate, became the first nationally-marketed combination bar in the U.S.
It has been estimated that around 30,000 varieties of candy bars existed in the United States during the 1920s, most of which were produced locally. George Williamson of Williamson Candy Co. named the Oh Henry! after an electrician who visited his store and flirted with the female candy makers. Williamson launched an advertising campaign that included newspaper ads, streetcar signs, and billboards, and the Oh Henry! bar became one of the top-selling brands in the U.S. in the 1920s. In 1926, the company published a book, 60 New Ways to Serve a Famous Candy, that included recipes for salads, side dishes, and sweet breads, in addition to desserts.
Otto Schnering, owner of the Curtiss Candy Co., developed the Baby Ruth by modifying their original candy bar, Kandy Kake, to compete with the Oh Henry! bar. Schnering claimed that the Baby Ruth was named in honor of President Grover Cleveland's daughter, who died at age 12, but some historians suggest that Schnering chose the name to take advantage of the popularity of Babe Ruth without having to pay royalties. Schnering decided to sell his bar for half the price of its competitor, hiring legendary Chicago ad man, Eddy S. Brandt, to market the Baby Ruth under the slogan "Everything you want for a nickel." The catchy slogan, along with other innovative marketing tactics, like sponsoring circuses and dropping Baby Ruth bars over cities from airplanes, made Baby Ruth the most popular candy bar in the U.S by 1925.
Curtiss Candy became a major player in the emerging national candy brand business, launching other bars like the peanut butter crunch, Butterfinger. Other candy bars sold by Curtiss Candy are no longer produced: the Dip had a soft nougat center, similar to the Three Musketeers and the Buy Jiminy was a peanut candy bar, similar to the PayDay.
A chocolate bar is a candy bar that has chocolate liquor and cocoa butter as the main ingredients. Milk chocolate is made by adding milk in the form of milk powder, milk solids or condensed milk and at least 10 percent concentration of chocolate liquor, while dark chocolate has minimum 35 chocolate liquor concentration and high cocoa percentages ranging from 70% to 99% with little to no milk added. Dark is synonymous with semisweet, and extra dark with bittersweet. White chocolate replaces cocoa with cocoa butter. In addition to these main ingredients, a chocolate bar may contain emulsifiers such as soy lecithin and flavors such as vanilla.
Americans generally use the expression 'candy bar' to describe what consumers in the United Kingdom call a 'chocolate bar'.
Candy bars containing no chocolate include:
- Zagnut – one of the few candy bars produced by The Hershey Company that contains no chocolate
- PayDay – peanuts, caramel, and nougat
- Bit-O-Honey – honey-flavored taffy with almond bits
- Abba-Zaba – taffy with a peanut butter center
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