Back to the 80s: The Best Candy From When I Was a Kid – Kickin’ it Old School

I am not a big eater of sweets and, to the surprise and disgust of many, especially not a big fan of chocolate. It’s not that I do not like sweets at all, but just not to the level that many others do. However, there are some types of candy that I do enjoy and that remind me of being a kid again. I thought that I would publish my list of favorite candy from when I was growing up in the 80s.

Now, many of the candy on this list was around before the 80s and most of it is still around today, but these are the types of candy that take me right back to being “a kid in a candy store” again. Before I get to my favorites, I thought I would start with a couple types of candy that I remember well, but not quite as fondly. Here are 3 types of candy that I deem as the worst of the 80s:
> Candy CigarettesCandy CigarettesNow these were fun to pretend you were smoking and acting like an adult. Some candy cigarettes even would create a little puff of powder (like smoke) when you blew on the other end. They came in a little cardboard box just like real cigarettes. Everything was fun, except how they tasted. The best description I would use for the flavor of a candy cigarette would be like eating a piece of chalk.
> Candy Buttons -Candy Buttons Now these did not taste so bad, but they were a lot more work to eat than they were worth. They were little dots of candy stuck to a long sheet of paper. The problem was that it was nearly impossible to eat one of the candy buttons without getting a little bit of the paper stuck to the back of it. Then you have to pick the little wet pieces of paper off of your tongue or just swallow the paper with the candy. I never understood this candy other than maybe it seemed like you were getting a lot more candy on that long strip of paper than you really were.
> Those hard sticks of bubble gum included in a pack of baseball cards -Pack of Topps Back in the day, this stick of petrified gum was just loosely packed right in with the cards. When baseball cards started, you were actually buying the pack for cigarettes and then later gum and the trading cards were a bonus. By the time I was a kid, I was buying the pack for the cards and not the gum. I would still try to eat the gum anyways, though it often would crumble into pieces and/or cut the roof of my mouth as I tried to chew it. Once again, great memories, but bad taste.

Those are my memories of the worst candy from the 80s, so now I will give you my favorites. Like I said earlier, you won’t find a lot of chocolate on this list, but lots of other great candy which bring back great memories for me. In some cases, I will include links to fun commercials from the 80s. So let’s get on to the list. Here is OLD SCHOOL’S TOP 10 CANDY FROM THE 80s (+ Bonus 5):

Honorable Mention. LifeSaversLifesavers – This was a sure bet to be included in our Christmas stockings each year. Excellent basic hard candy, which I wanted to at least give an honorable mention to.

Pop Rocks15. Pop Rocks – These little bits of candy would explode in your mouth. I remember an urban legend about a kid who ate a packet of Pop Rocks and then drank a can of Coke and his stomach exploded. I assumed this could not be true, but never ventured to prove it myself.

14. Wax Bottles Wax Bottles- These wax bottles included a little tiny bit of flavored liquid inside of them. The idea was you could bite off the top of the bottle and then drink the contents. It was more fun to throw the whole bottle in your mouth and chew the wax. This would put a nice waxy coating on your teeth and tongue.

Ring Pop13. Ring Pop – I was a fan of most any kind of sucker or pop. I could have also included the Whistle Pop, Dum Dums or that generic sucker you’d get at the bank or doctor’s office. I chose the Ring Pop because it was cool. The only problem is once you started licking it and it became sticky, you had to be careful about wearing it as a ring. If it rubbed against dirt or anything, it would stick to the Ring Pop and now you would have to pick the tiny particles off before you could continue eating it.

12. PEZ PEZ Dispensers- I think these were more popular because of the cool dispensers. You could get your favorite comic book super hero, Star Wars character or cartoon character among many other choices. I always remember the quote from one of my favorite movies Stand By Me (1986) when I think about PEZ. The movie was from the 80’s, but it was set in 1959. One of the kids says, “If I could have one food for the rest of my life? That’s easy. PEZ, cherry flavored PEZ. No question about it.” Here is a link to a video from that movie and this line happens at about the 1:19 mark.

Smarties11. Smarties – This was a popular Halloween candy and one of my favorites to get in my Trick or Treat bag. Speaking of Halloween, one of my friends once put together a creative costume for a Halloween party using Smarties. He came as “Mr. Smarty Pants” and glued packets of Smarties all over a pair of jeans. I thought it was quite creative.

10. Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum Hubba Bubba- I loved bubble gum including Bubblicious and Bubble Yum, but I always like Hubba Bubba best. Grape was my favorite flavor. I remember an 80s ad campaign which had cowboys having a bubble blowing showdown (instead of firing guns at each other, they would see who could blow the biggest bubble). Here is a link to watch one of the commercials which I saw so many times that I could still recite the lines.

Pixy Stix9. Pixy Stix – These were just thin paper tubes filled with what seems like pure sugar. Just pour them onto your tongue and it gives you quite the sugar rush.

8.(tie) Gobstoppers & Spree Gobstoppers- I still like these quite a bit today. They both turn your tongue colors relatively quickly. I would also include Jawbreakers in this same category, though it seems like Jawbreakers today aren’t quite as hard as they were when I was a kid. They probably had a lawsuit where some kid broke a tooth and had to soften them.

Tootsie Pop7. Tootsie Pop – I always remember the slogan “How many licks does it take?” and the commercial where the wise owl eats it after three licks. Tootsie OwlHere is a link to watch that fun commercial. Though it was a different candy that I don’t include on the list, I also remember the commercials for the Tootsie Roll with the song singing “Whatever it is I think I see becomes a Tootsie Roll to me.” I like the pops better.

Bottle Caps6. Bottle Caps – These candies looked like little bottle caps and had soda flavors including grape, cola, orange, cherry and root beer.

5. Gummi Worms Gummi Worms- I guess these were born as a result of the success of the Gummi Bears. This candy originates from Germany and the rubbery-textured gelatin based candy is shaped into worms about 4 inches long. Loved them.

Big League Chew4. Big League Chew – As I said earlier, I always liked bubble gum. I also love baseball. Big League Chew was shredded gum that came in a pouch just like the chewing tobacco the pro ball players used. Here is a link to watch one of the commercials from the 80’s for my favorite bubble gum.

3. Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip Fun Dip- These were packets of a sugary powder similar to the contents of Pixy Stix. But to add to the sugary goodness, you ate this powder by licking a stick made of sugar, dipping it into the powder so it would stick to wet area you just licked and then eating it off the stick. A kid could not ask for more sugar than you got when eating this treat.

Reese's Pieces2. Reese’s Pieces – These are peanut butter flavored candy with a chocolate candy shell and are Made by the same people who brought us one of my all-time favorites, the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. E.T.They were introduced in the U.S. in 1980 but really gained popularity after they appeared in the movie E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) as the alien’s favorite candy. An interesting note regarding the movie is that Steven Spielberg first approached the Mars company about using M&M’s, but Mars declined the offer. He then approached Hershey about using their Chocolate Kiss, but Hershey declined too. Reese’s was the third option and the candy received a huge boost in popularity and sales. I bet those other candy companies regretted that decision. Here is a link to an 80’s commercial for the candy that uses an alien probably intended to build off of the E.T. recognition.

Lemonheads1. Lemonheads – My grandpa’s favorite candy was lemon drops, so I always liked lemon candy too. Lemonheads are a lemon flavored candy made by Chicago based Ferrara Pan Candy Company. Here is a link to a virtual tour of how this candy is made through a unique “panning” process. This company also made some other favorites of mine including Cherry Clan (now called Cherryheads) and Alexander the Grape (now called Grapeheads). They were all sold in small boxes that were value priced. These were easily my favorite candy as a kid.

There’s my list. Hope some of those brought back memories for you, too. Are there any candies that you fondly remember from the 80s??? Or from whatever decade you grew up in? Please share them in the comments section. Many of these candies are available to purchase in stores today, but I found a company that makes it easy for you to order many of them online. They also have gift baskets available, so give it a try. Here is a link to the website right here…

Candy you ate as a kid®… includes many of Old School’s favorites on this list and many more fresh candies from the 50s, 60s and 70s… still available after all these years!

That wraps up this sweet issue of Kickin’ it Old School. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. If you are interested in reading more of my 80’s related issues, please click there for a summary. If you are interested in reading more of my Top 10 lists, please click there for a summary of those. You can also click on the Archives in the upper left hand column or use the blogbar Search Box in the right hand column to find any other issues you may have missed. Peace and much love.

Check this out: If you read my issue on The Karate Kid, you know that is one of my guilty pleasures from the 80’s. I saw this site which shows look-a-likes and thought this one showing The Karate Kid compared to the danger sign from a ladder was funny.

daniel larusso, ralph machieo, karate kid, danger sign
see famous look-a-like faces

Quote of the day: “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” -Dolly Parton

Download this: “Good Things” by The BoDeans – One of my all time favorite songs and it is by a band formed here in Waukesha, Wisconsin back in 1983

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  1. reeses peices were awesome. I can still clear out a bag of those in under a minute.

  2. FUN DIP! my fave!
    I liked the candy cigaretts too – but you can’t find those anymore.
    Lots that I remember and bring back sweet memories :D
    “1 -a- 2 -a- 3! – 3 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop!”
    Fun post! Thanks OS! :D

  3. You’ve brought back lots of memories!
    Remember the candy cigarettes very cheaply made, basically a little fence-row of white and hard sugar candy, painted red at the top?

    I give out candy to the kids at church on Sunday, my own little blatant attempt to endear the kids to me with a cheap bribe. I go to a local anf favorite discount store for the candy, called Big Lots. Basically they sell brands that are unpopular and even discontinued. Recently I stocked up on Bottle Caps. The kids really liked them.

    Now, if I can just find a truckload of discounted candy cigs, I could really be a hit with the kids at church.

  4. Many of those predate the eighties. I used to love Tootsie Rolls and Mojos-which were great because they sold for two for a penny. The grossest was sponge toffee.

  5. I ate a lot of that candy when I was kid! I loved ring pops; I remember wearing mine while I practised my piano (all the while eating it). And in Canada, those “Smarties” are called “Rockets” I think. I only saw those at Hallowe’en. Smarties are chocolate candies here! Those candy cigarettes were so gross, but they were FUN!

  6. when i read your title, i’m wondering how old are u… darn u are 35, same as me lol…

    candies… nope too expensive at that time, just a simple home-made :-)

    now… nope thanks or the hospital start calling me… lol

  7. This may be the ’70s rather than ’80s (and Canadian) but we would buy something called Sponge Toffee and was a 3″ x 3″ block of (sugar)? It’s the same stuff you’d find in the center of a Crunchie bar.

  8. Google it, you can get candy ciggies for hella cheap. Lolo the kid’s lov e ya!

  9. too funny…I love it! I am 8 months preggers and let me tell you, what I wouldn’t give for a rocket ship sucker…remember those??? 100% pure sugar…bottom was a white wax base, followed by red, yellow and green hard candy (corn syrup tasting). And God help you if it got stuck on your teeth! lol If anyone knows how I could get my hands one one over here in England, please leave a message!!

  10. does anyone remember this candy?
    It was in a small cardboard box slightly larger than the dimensions of the candy with monsters (like Frankenstein, Dracula, or the Werewolf) decorating the front and back. The candy itself (pictured below) had a similar taste to candy cigarettes and had a picture of whatever monster was featured on the box stamped on the front in what looked like red ink. The red ink was actually a thin layer of cherry filling that formed the monster’s face and when you ate the candy tabs the cherry filling melted and filled your mouth with a burst of cherry flavor.

  11. My favorite was Purple Cow suckers. Similar to a Black Cow, only grape-flavored.
    There was also Flamethrowers, which were cinnamon-flavored candies similar to Sugar Babies.

  12. I’m from England and I’m making a hamper for someone that they want filled with 80’s sweets. What can I put in that they still sell now and is not too expensive?

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