Do you remember the childhood candy Bit-O-Honey?
You are probably thinking about the yellow and red wrapper with the blue text that stuck out on just about any candy store shelf.
Chances are if you frequented a brick-and-mortar candy shop as a kid, there were a few wooden barrels filled to the brim with Bit-O-Honey.
I can vividly recall there were 3 barrels of Bit-O-Honey in a trio always sitting in the middle of my favorite candy store back in my hometown.
While I wasn’t a fan of it when I was 10, there were tons of other customers who stuffed their hands into the old-wooden containers and yanked forth a massive handful of Bit-O-Honey with a childlike smile on their faces.
If there’s one thing I know about Bit-O-Honey, it’s that it holds its place in the candy history books that oftentimes gets forgotten amongst all the other amazing candy out there.
So we took some time to learn more about the history of Bit-O-Honey and how this honey-flavored treat has withstood the test of time.
When was Bit-O-Honey invented?
Bit-O-Honey was invented in 1924 by the Schutter-Johnson Company based out of Chicago, IL.
In case you didn’t know, it’s a honey-flavored taffy that is packed with chunks of almonds and tastes like one of the sweetest treats on planet earth. Ohh I forgot to mention, it also has a nasty habit of getting stuck in your teeth if you so choose to snack on it for extended periods of time.
While Shutter-Johnson wasn’t particularly known for their candy at the time, they did make bubble gum and collective cards that were beloved by kids. It wasn’t until the creation of the Bit-O-Honey that people started to recognize the brand behind the sweet treat.
But what exactly goes into this treat?
The ingredients for Bit-O-Honey are rather simple. It’s a mixture of corn syrup, coconut oil, egg whites, honey, sugar, and milk. Once all those ingredients are mixed together and put into the mold, chopped almonds are added into the mix to top it off.
The end result is one of two forms–the traditional bar or single-serve taffies both of which burst with sweet honey flavor.
While we all know Bit-O-Honey for the bright logo and cute bee on the wrapper, the original design was actually a bright red package that had the name plastered across the front in massive letters. Pair that with a 1-cent price and everyone with a sweet tooth was stepping through the doors of their local candy store to get their hands on some Bit-O-Honey.
Bit-O-Honey gets bought out…
Fast forward to the late 60s, when other candy companies began popping up and slinging sweets very similar to Bit-O-Honey—one of these candy brands was Ward Candy Company.
At the time, Ward Candy Company was best known for 3 candies they made: O’Henry, Raisinets, and Chunky! (Pssssst, you can get all three of those in our digital candy aisle right here). When they added Bit-O-Honey to their collection, candy savants went wild.
This new merger pumped marketing dollars into Bit-O-Honey allowing them to start focusing more on their product’s impression which led to the development of its iconic slogan, “a little Bit-O-Honey goes a long way!”
They also started snatching up TV commercial slots trying to get the world to snack on their sweet treat.
During this period of time, Ward Candy Company also looked to experiment with the Bit-O-Honey concept and step outside the traditional mold that Schutter had built over the course of 40 years. This began the short-lived succession of sweets known as Bit-O-Chocolate, Bit-O-Peanut Butter, and Bit-O-Licorice.
While I like to think that those first two would taste pretty good today, could you imagine what that licorice one tasted like?
I’d rather not.
Nonetheless, these new flavors couldn’t stand up to the original Bit-O-Honey. One of the major reasons for this was a rival taffy brand that was also sweeping the United States—Mary Jane.
Similar to Bit-O-Honey, Mary Jane is peanut butter and molasses flavored taffy originally made by Robert O. Lord’s candy manufacturing company which would eventually become Stark Candy Company.
When Bit-O-Honey tried to dip their toes in the water of peanut butter-flavored taffy, MJ decided to put her foot down and quickly put out the fire of other flavors.
Ohhh honey, where art thou home?
Jump forward another 10 years to the mid ‘80s and we see yet another change in ownership with Bit-O-Honey. This time it is Nestle who’s best known for candy such as 100 Grand, Baby Ruth, Crunch, and Butterfinger.
While Nestle continued to push Bit-O-Honey to customers, there was very little change going on with the product itself. Candy fans weren’t clamoring over some new flavor or special editions, they loved the simplicity of the honey and almonds that were in the original recipe.
So for the next 30 years, Bit-O-Honey stayed the same, the only major update was the addition of the cute bee mascot that is now flaunted on all packaging.
Then in 2013, Nestle sold the rights of Bit-O-Honey to Pearson Candy Company of St. Paul, Minnesota.
After spending a few winters in the cold winters of Minnesota, Bit-O-Honey was again bought out by another confectionery manufacturer called Spangler Candy Company in 2020.
This Ohio-based candy company just so happens to be the manufacturer of major sweets like DumDums, Sweethearts, and one of our personal favorites, Necco wafers.
Sidenote: Shoutout to Spangler Candy Company for saving Necco wafers when they went out of business back in 2018 and bringing one of our favorite childhood candies back to life!
Today, Spangler continues to carry Bit-O-Honey in their candy arsenal and you can find it at most of your local convenience stores, grocery shops, and candy establishments.
A little Bit-O-Honey goes a long way…
There it is, the sweet history of Bit-O-Honey!
I’d imagine at this point you are probably thinking to yourself, “it's been a minute since I tasted a Bit-O-Honey” and let me be the first to tell you, they’re still amazing.
If your taste buds are clamoring for a taste of that wonderful honey and almond combination, grab yourself some right here and we will send them straight to your front door!