The ‘80s—a year filled with gnarly lingo, iconic movies, rad hair, and a famous boy who befriended an alien by sharing some candy.
If you grew up in this era, all of this jargon is familiar to you and you probably had your hair grown out into a powerful poof that resemebled a flowing ski slope. If you didn’t, best believe you had yourself a David Bowie or Prince vinyl laying around your house somewhere and the lyrics echoed in your head on a daily basis.
There’s something about the ‘80s that just feels different. Anytime anyone brings up that decade you can’t help but take yourself back in time and remember those days with a smile. For us, it’s a decade that holds a special place in our sweet hearts because of it’s deep connection between candy and culture.
We touched on it earlier, but the ‘80s was a decade that exploded on the cultural spectrum, launching new music, movies, fashion, and even lingo into the world. With that, came a new era of sweet treats that not only tasted different, but also were featured in the culture itself, specifically movies.
Since we’re all about taking you and your taste buds back in time, we figured what better decade to talk about the connection between candy and movies than the ‘80s!
Here are 4 times you saw candy and movie culture clash during the 1980’s decade.
1. ET (The Extra Terrestrial)
When Steven Spielberg embarked on the mission to tell the story of a boy and an alien who become best friends, he knew he was onto something big. It wasn’t until the film's premier in 1982 that he found out how big this actually was.
The film itself took a new cinematic approach to storytelling, leveraging the hot topic of space travel that was growing more and more relevant in the culture of the ‘80s. It also featured a new form of filming known as chronological shooting, where the actors and actresses shoot the movie in the order of the actual film, creating a more cohesive and emotionally riveting experience.
On top of these new techniques, the film introduced a new candy to the world in the process. If you remember the movie, you’ll most definitely remember this scene.
The crazy thing is that Reese’s Pieces wasn’t even the first candy casted in the blockbuster film. Speilberg originally asked M&Ms to star, but Mars denied the request citing they did not want to be in a film with an alien.
Immediately after saying no, Speilberg and his team leaned onto the Hershey Company asking if they had a product they wanted in the film and boom, Reese’s Pieces it was!
After the movie grossed a casual $11 million on opening weekend, Reese’s saw an immediate spike in sales—we’re talking 300%. From there, the young boy and the alien cemented themselves as the duo that snacked on Reese’s Pieces and flew through the sky on a bike—leaving a sweet memory in the minds of every viewer.
2. The Goonies
Something about Speilberg in the ‘80s just clicked perfectly with moviegoers. As the executive producer of the 1985 film The Goonies, Speilberg showed us another creative approach to talking about the coming of age in young boys.
This time it was focused on the crew of misfits living in Astoria, Oregon as they battled the development of a golf course in their neighborhood. We will spare you the plot as most of you know the story—if you haven’t seen it, pause right here and go watch it—and touch on the sweet moment shared between iconic characters Chunk and Sloth.
Sidenote: if you’re ever running a movie trivia night at your house, this scene is the perfect moment to tee up the question, “what candy did Chunk give Sloth while he was trapped in the basement?”
In the movie there’s a moment where Chunk—the classic overweight funny kid of the Goonies squad—gets trapped in the basement of a decrepit restaurant with what seems to be a deformed man. This man, chained up and screaming, see’s the young boy has a Baby Ruth in hand and is stress eating it while trying to cope with the situation. Initially, Chunk is hesitant to hand over the rest of his candy bar, but quickly realizes it’s the best way to calm this creature down.
Upon biting into the delectable bar, Sloth befriends the boy, which leads to a friendship that in return, saves the entire Goonie crew while they try to defeat Captain One-Eyed Willy and the Fertelli family.
What one can learn from this friendship and from this epic film that’s dominated the big screen for over 40 years is that all it takes is a piece of candy to make a friend.
Since we’re already talking about Baby Ruth, nobody can forget its epic appearance in the 1980 sports comedy Caddyshack.
Directed by Harold Ramis and starring 80’s icons Chevy Chase and Bill Murray, the film dives deep into the life of country club living and what it’s like being on the other side of a golf bag. As the crew of kids from Bushwood Country Club try to stack a few bills while spending the summer on the course, the film cuts to a classic scene that many of us remember fondly.
Most of us know Bill Murray as the comedian, but few actually know that he’s an avid golfer, which landed him the role of the head groundskeeper in Caddyshack. In this scene, a slew of workers are enjoying a rowdy afternoon at the club’s pool, when unbeknownst to them a “doodie” floats to the surface of the pool, spawning a chaotic outbreak of bodies trying to escape the water.
As mothers overlook and bodies fling about, the Jaws theme song cuts in, raising the tension before the final swimmer stumbles straight into the floating fecal matter.
As the scene cuts, we see Murray’s character (Carl Spackler) has emptied and scrubbed the pool as a result of the mess. When he finally gets his hands on the culprit, he notices something funny about it, gives it a sniff, and takes a big old bite right out of it, sending onlookers into a spiral of madness.
Can you guess what it was? Yeah that’s right, a Baby Ruth.
4. The Breakfast Club
Maybe it was the times, or those producing the movies in the ‘80s, but directors really loved playing into the coming of age theme for young people.
Nothing screamed coming of age more than the 1985 blockbuster The Breakfast Club.
Starring a cast of what would become stars (Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, and Paul Gleason) the film covered the diverse and dramatic lives of 5 different high school students serving Saturday detention under a divisive dean of discipline.
As the clan of students go through their day, the movie cuts to a scene most of us will remember fondly due to the sugary nature of the moment.
While the students are given time to eat their lunch in the library we see a variety of different lunch items being consumed by the characters. Some snack on sandwiches, others on sushi, but when we get a preview of Allison Reynolds (Ally Sheedy’s character) we see something entirely different.
Upon opening her sandwich, she flings the bootleg bologna up to the ceiling, sticking it on the statue above her head. She grabs herself what looks to be a handful of straws and begins opening them to reveal the sugary snack Pixie Sticks. After uncapping the handful, she dumps them upon the slices of bread ensuring every square inch is covered in sugary goodness. And just to top it off, she grabs a bag of the childhood favorite cereal, Cap'n Crunch, and crushes them atop the Pixie Sticks to create a lunch concoction never seen before.
The onlooking crew watches and she sinks her teeth deep into the sandwich savoring every bite, while the rest of them scowl in confusion over what they just witnessed.
In our book this goes down as one of the most creative ways to include candy in your lunch, and best believe we grabbed ourselves a loaf of bread and tried it once just to make sure we weren’t missing out on something sweetly special.
Every decade is decadent in its own way.
The ‘80s was a time filled with lots of change and that decade is one that will never be forgotten. From the fashion to the music, films to the candy, it will forever be a time that changed the way people and culture interacted and meshed to create some of the most memorable and sweet on-screen moments that we continue to watch to this day.
If this got you thinking “it’s been a minute since I snacked on some ‘80s sweets, go ahead and hop over to our ‘80s aisle and do some exploring—you’re bound to find that one sweet that will bring you right back to a special time in your life.
And if you’re thinking, “I’m a ‘90s baby” don’t you worry, we’re coming to you next week with a special story about the ‘90s that you’ll want to sink your sweet tooth into.