1960s – the swinging decade

The decade of the 1960s is remembered for its fashion excess, sexual liberation and the success of British pop music around the world. Some would say that the ‘Swinging Sixties’ was probably the seminal decade of the century, from the point of view of changing people’s outlook on their own lives. ‘Youth,’ which had arrived in the previous decade, finally found its identity and developed a world of its own in which to live.

© Rob Horlock, “I Remember When I Was Young“.

The 60’s was a melting pot for the new and old, the sweets of the 40’s were still going strong, the 50’s had produces a vast new array of textures and flavours and now it was  time for the 60’s to stamp its mark in the sweetie world. Records are scant, but based on my opening statement it is possible to tell what was around during a particular time by what customers buy and thereby the 60’s selection was made. There are, however, some sweetie classics that the 60’s can own. The Caramac bar, having been invented in 1959, gained momentum and popularity in the 60’s.

Caramac is the brand name for a caramel flavored bar manufactured by Nestlé. Originally it was launched by Mackintosh’s (later Rowntree Mackintosh) in 1959. The name Caramac was derived from the syllabic abbreviation of Caramel and Mackintosh.

Likewise the Drumstick Lolly made by Swizzels Matlow in 1957 gained momentum and popularity in the 60’s. It came about by accident when Trevor Matlow was experimenting with a wrapping machine and poured two flavours into the machine then added a stick – it worked! The Chuppa Chups lolly, known universally by the young and old, owes some of its popularity and iconic status to Salvador Dali who designed the logo in 1969.

While new introductions were being made, some of the oldies were immortalised for ever by television. “Don’t forget the fruit gums Mum!” If you were there you’ll remember The Beatles played their part in immortalising sweeties: George Harrison let slip that Jelly Babies were his favourite sweet. From there on at every concert the Beatles were bombarded with Jelly Babies. Apparently the Jelly Baby also got its belly button in the 60’s!

Sweeties had the Beatles on their side, but Roald Dahl’s contribution for sweetie marketing was massive. With the publication of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 1964 sweeties gained a much wider audience. Lickable wallpaper never made it onto the shelves but Rainbow Drops did (but they don’t make you spit in many colours),Luminous Lollies for eating in bed remain a good but as yet undeveloped product. What we do have today is the Willy Wonka brand. The Willy Wonka factory was first started in the late 1950s, when a small family-owned company started Breaker Confections in Chicago. In 1965 Sunmark Companies purchased Breaker Confections. The name was changed to Willy Wonka Brands in 1980, and to Willy Wonka Candy Factory in 1993. In 1988, the Sunmark Companies became part of NESTLÉ.