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!”
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 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.”
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?”
“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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