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part of the cover with the title Established 1874; Published Monthly
Confectioners Journal for Candy Manufacturers, October 1923.

Cough Gum & Candy Day in the 1923 Confectioners Journal

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This post was written by Kelly Bennett, a Business Reference and Research Specialist in the Science & Business Reading Room.

One of the strengths of the business collections at the Library of Congress is the breadth and variety of historical trade publications. Beyond industry concerns and supply prices, trade journals can be surprisingly educational and a fascinating look into history. October reminds me of Halloween, and especially of Halloween candy, so I decided to browse the October 1923 issue of Confectioners Journal to see what the candy industry could tell me about life 100 years ago.

Cough drops were popular, but so was cough gum?

October was the beginning of cold and flu season in 1923, just as it is in 2023. Confectioners Journal features many ads for cough drops and lozenges. However, I was surprised to see an ad for cough gum, which supposedly “makes a cold a pleasure!”

ad says: CHEWING GUM- For the Kiddies- JOBBERS!- 1c PICK-A-ROSE 1c- The Fastest selling PENNY GUM IN AMERICA- Repeats so rapidly we have been obliged to increase our production from 150,000 to 1,500000 boxes- COUGH GUM- MAKES A COLD A PLEASURE-READING CHEWING GUM CO.- Reading, Pa. includes a drawing of a display box of gum
Reading Chewing Gum Co. ad. Confectioners Journal for Candy Manufacturers. October 1923.

Anheuser-Busch stopped making beer and started making corn syrup.

In 1923, the United States was well into the Prohibition-era and Anhauser-Busch was looking for ways to survive. The company ran a column and an advertisement in October’s Confectioners Journal to announce the manufacture of the Anhauser-Busch Brand Confectioners’ Crystal Corn Syrup and other corn products. A large part of the former brewery was converted to a glucose factory “equipped with the latest…machinery at a cost of approximating $1,500,000…and employing over 150 men.” The ad included a coupon that could be traded in by confectioners for a free sample.

Candy Day was a thing.

What ever happened to Candy Day? Yes, it was a “holiday” entirely invented by the National Confectioners Association to sell more candy. Yes, I wish there were still a Candy Day.

The Jobber -- They are already talking about the possible presidential candidate who will be voted for a year from next November. It is full time to begin working up the interest and enthusiasm of candy retailer for "Candy Day" which will be pulled off Saturday October 13th.
Confectioners Journal for Candy Manufacturers. October 1923.


The demise of Candy Day could have been caused by the rise of Halloween, or Hallowe’en. While I found no mention of trick-or-treating, it was clear from the ads and articles in the 1923 Confectioners Journal that Halloween was a candy holiday. It seems that it wasn’t the candy holiday yet, as in many advertisements it was lumped in with Thanksgiving and Christmas. But it was still “a mighty profitable event,” and the journal cited many great examples of seasonal and spooky window displays. There are the familiar corn stalks and pumpkins, scarecrows, bats and witches. Treats included “candy novelties,” orange marzipan, candy corn and “licorice black cats, offered at 25c for the half pound.”

JACK-O-LANTERN -- Place a round disher of orange ice crem in a sundae dish. Insert pieces of nuts for eyes and nose and a slice of red cherry for the mouth. Our crushed pineapple around the base of he creme and serve with Nabisco wafers.
Soda counter recipe. Confectioners Journal for Candy Manufacturers. October 1923.

Confectioners have jokes.

In fact, in this issue, they have a whole page of jokes that are mostly unrelated to the confectionery business.

“Aren’t you the boy who was here a week ago looking for a position?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I thought so. And didn’t I tell you then that I wanted an older boy?”

“Yes, sir; that’s why I’m here now.”

You can find other confectionary trade publications in the catalog under the subject heading Confectionery–Periodicals. Other resources can be found under Candy–United States—History or Candy industry–United States–History.

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