Until they invent an actual time machine, one of the best ways to take a trip back to the past is through the popular candy of the time. This is especially true when it comes to Halloween candy! You can really tell a lot about a period of time by examining its popular candy and the pop culture that integrated it. Before the era of pre-planned trick or treating windows of time like we have today, a kid in the 80’s could trick-or-treat pretty much from the moment school let out until about midnight on Halloween day. As a kid of the 80’s who definitely took FULL advantage of this, we had several giant neighborhoods on our trick-or-treat route, including the nearby wealthy neighborhood that gave out full sized chocolate bars. And yes, we would absolutely try to swap costume pieces and attempt to hit the same houses several times.
Candy can truly evoke great memories of years passed. Your Halloween haul was an exceptional candy tour that often brought in candy that you wouldn’t normally try and sometimes even brought in strange and new candies from different cultures. Let’s explore some of the most iconic and notorious Halloween candies from the legendary 1980’s.
You can’t have a conversation about either 1980’s cinema or candy culture without first mentioning Reese’s Pieces. It’s amazing that this little peanut butter cruncher, the mainstay of 80’s pop culture treats and one of the most successful examples of movie product placement, almost failed completely shortly after it was invented.
We think of Reese’s Pieces as the candy that E.T. ate as he was lured home by Elliot in the film E.T. but the product placement was actually first offered to Mars for their M&M candy, who inexplicably turned it down. The producers then went to rival company Hersheys who wanted to promote their new, peanut butter version of a candy similar to M&M’s called Reese’s Pieces. They jumped at the chance to have their candy featured in the film and the rest, as they say, is history.
Skittles were originally released and invented in England, believe it or not! They were created in 1974 and didn’t officially make their way across the pond and into mainstream release in the United States until 1982. These little guys were a popular alternative to the chocolate and peanut butter hard candy treats like M&M’s and Rees’s Pieces.
Wax Soda Bottles/Wax Candy With Liquid Filling
The first time I got these in my pillow case Halloween candy bag I was blown away. I have never seen anything like these before or since, frankly. There were several varieties, but I remember the wax soda bottles the best. My 7 year old brain just couldn’t fathom how someone could make a fully functioning liquid container that was so small. You could nibble the top off and then drink the “soda” (aka flavored sugar water) within, or you could pop the whole thing in your mouth and feel the flavored water burst out. The kicker? The wax also had a bit of flavoring in it too so you could chew it like gum if you wanted.
Wax Vampire Teeth
Again, wax must have been very cheap to buy and produce in the 80’s because flavored wax vampire teeth were hugely popular back then. These were fun because they looked like vampire fangs and you could hold them in front of your mouth with your teeth and it would make you look like a vampire for a bit. The wax had a sweet and tangy flavor and made a great little gum alternative. I think that the wax candy craze died down because these were fantastic choking hazards.
This was another candy that in a Halloween bag filled to the brim with different candy really stood out! Ring pops took the tradition of the centuries old lolli pop and updated it to fit in with the glitz and glamor of 1980’s popular culture. It also broke the barrier between food and jewelry as one of the first popular candies of the decade that you could also wear and have fun with. Ring pops are still going strong today with many more flavors and variations including a “gummy” pop where the jewel on the ring is made of a gummy worm type candy. Delicious!
Candy Necklaces And Bracelets
Speaking of candy that you can wear, candy necklaces were another fun and huge item in the bags of happy 1980’s trick-or-treaters. What’s more fun than a candy that’s also a statement piece?
Raisins And Apples
Yes, there was always that one house on the block that would be trying to do something “healthy” or “different” by giving away a candy alternative, but what us kids really thought was that they didn’t like us and were pulling a prank on us. Either way, the little boxes of raisins or whole apples would be quickly pawned off and traded to a younger sibling for some of their superior chocolate treats.