The origin of candy bars depends on the type of candy bar being discussed. According to the History of Candy (see References below) early humans made candy out of honey by drying it and forming a taffy-like concoction. However, most people think chocolate when talking about candy bars, and the chocolate candy bar was invented less than 200 years ago. Prior to that time people drank chocolate but did not seem to consider solidifying it. Today, most candy bars are made of chocolate; however, mint, peanut, jelly and taffy are also common ingredients of candy bars.
According to the Great Idea Finder, (see References below) candy bars were invented by Joseph Fry in 1847 when he blended cacao butter with cocoa powder to create a paste which he then pressed into a mold. It was an immediate success and people demanded his concoction. He made this candy out of bittersweet chocolate since milk chocolate was not yet invented. According to the National Confectioner’s Association (see References below) milk chocolate was invented by Henry Nestle in 1875. The NCA also mentions that chocolate, as a drink, was a favorite of Montezuma, emperor of the Aztecs. Henry Cortez brought chocolate as a drink back to Spain in 1529 but no one thought to use it as a solid candy for another 300 years.
In 1849, John Cadbury created a chocolate bar for his company. Those early chocolate bars were made of bittersweet chocolate. However, that changed in 1875 when Henry Nestle and Daniel Peter invented milk chocolate. Rudolph Lindt added cocoa butter back to the milk chocolate mix in 1879 and created the first chocolate bar that would snap apart and melt in your mouth. In 1893, Milton S Hershey saw the candy making machinery at the World’s Fair in Chicago and decided to add this machinery to his factory. By 1894, he began mass-producing the first candy bars in his factory in Lancaster, Pa.
With the advent of World War I, the U.S. Army bought and distributed candy bars to troops fighting in the war. When those troops returned from the war, they wanted candy bars at home, so candy companies took up mass production and added more varieties of candy bars. Today, there are thousands of different kinds of candy bars available for sale in the U.S.
History of Other Candy Bars
Candy corn is packaged in approximately one-ounce packages and sold like a candy bar. In 1880, the Wunderle Candy Company put this commodity on the market. It was not until 1898 that people began using candy corn at Halloween. In 1901, NECCO wafers were invented. These are round, individual pieces of mint candy that sell in a 1-ounce package like a candy bar. In 1905, the Squirrel Brand Company invented the first peanut butter bar. 1921 brought the creation of Chuckles, which are multi colored jelly candies. In 1923, Bits-of-Honey, a taffy candy, made its debut on the market.
The invention of candy bars led to the proliferation of eating sweet treats instead of wholesome snacks. Candy tastes good and it is easy to grab and eat on the go.
According to a recent report on the FoodBev.com industry website, the confections business has done well during the recent recession as they provide "affordable luxuries." Also, candy bars that are more focused on healthy lifestyles – such as extra-small "portion control" packaging and candy with higher levels of cacao, which is thought to be high in antioxidants.