Times Have Certainly Changed

Times Have Certainly Changed

© David Burton 2022

The Sky Bar

     I recently found the following advertisement on the internet: “24 SKY BAR CANDY Chocolate bars (24 BARS in a BOX): Price: US $95.99; Shipping: US $14.99”

     I can remember, as a small boy growing up in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts, buying Sky Bar candy bars for 5 cents in the 1940s. I hadn’t eaten one in decades.

     Doing a Sky Bar search on the internet, I found the following information:

     “Hi, I’m Louise, the owner of Duck Soup in Sudbury, MA. I run the quirky and beloved general store with my son Frank. In September, 2018, a Duck Soup customer called Jim Lunney sent me a link to an auction of NECCO products. I bid on the Sky Bar brand and won it! All kinds of things happened after that which you can read on our email update page, but in a nutshell, we now have a manufacturing facility right next to Duck Soup and we sell Sky Bars made by us and true to the recipes that were handed down through the years.
     “How could this have happened? Such an iconic candy bar with so much history and so beloved? Well it turns out that back in 1938 when Sky Bar was invented there were numerous candy bars and it was a real heyday for confectionery.
     “What happened to all the others? They just gradually disappeared. Sky Bar was set to do the same. Instead, it now is the ONLY NECCO product still produced in Massachusetts. We invite you to try a Sky Bar and find out what makes it so special.” (Ref. 1)

     Sky Bar is an American candy bar introduced by NECCO (New England Confectionary Company) in 1938, discontinued in 2018, and reintroduced in 2019 by the Sky Bar Confectionary Company. NECCO was one of the oldest candy companies in the country, with roots going back to 1847. Each Sky Bar has four sections, each with a different filling - caramel, vanilla, peanut, and fudge - all covered in milk chocolate. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the era of the family road trip and the vending machine, Sky Bars were seemingly everywhere. Thanks to extensive TV advertising, Sky Bars were the candy bar of choice for many families, primarily up and down the East Coast. As a result, Sky Bars evoke special childhood memories for many. NECCO was then based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a short distance up Massachusetts Avenue from M.I.T. As an M.I.T. student in the 1950’s, I can remember the sweet smell of the candy it was producing wafting up Massachusetts Avenue. Later, NECCO moved to a facility in Revere, Massachusetts, a short distance from where I have been living for more than the past five decades.
     Sky Bar was first announced in March 1938, as NECCO became the first manufacturer in the United States to introduce a molded candy bar with four different centers encased in a chocolate covering. The originator of the Sky Bar was a candy maker working for NECCO named Joseph Cangemi. NECCO introduced the Sky Bar by means of a dramatic skywriting advertising campaign, and ran a "complete the sentence" contest in The Boston Globe newspaper with cash prizes to raise consumer awareness. The initial price for a Sky Bar was five cents.
     Compare the 1938 Sky Bar price of 5-cents with the 2022 price of $4.62 (24 bars for $110.98 - $95.99 plus $14.99 shipping). Times have certainly changed in the intervening 8 decades (1938 to 2022).
     Sky Bar's four different centers enrobed in chocolate were originally described in 1938 as English toffee, nougat, nut butter toffee, and fudge parfait. By 1955, they were English toffee, honey nougat, peanut whip, and fudge parfait. By 2001, the fillings were caramel, vanilla, peanut, and fudge. The peanut section was not peanut butter - it was a peanut-flavored caramel - while the vanilla section was not quite nougat or marshmallow, but similar to the consistency of a Valomilk cup.
     In 1945, a NECCO advertisement for Sky Bar was one of only six signs illuminated in New York City's Times Square following VE (Victory in Europe) Day.
     In late 2009, as an advertising tie-in with the DVD release of New Moon (from the Twilight vampire series), NECCO released special chocolate bars inspired by the original Sky Bar candy. One bar, similar to the original, contained just three filling flavors - caramel, creme and peanut butter. Another bar resembled a heart shape and only contained creme.
     By 2014, Sky Bars had become difficult to find, but were still produced by NECCO and could be found in some stores such as Cracker Barrel (especially in New England) or on the Internet through Amazon.com (in bulk) or from some candy resellers.
     Following NECCO going out of business in mid-2018, the Sky Bar brand was sold at auction on September 27, 2018. The winning bidder was Louise Mawhinney, owner of a gourmet food store named Duck Soup, based in Sudbury, Massachusetts. The new owner planned to resume production in small batches in late 2019.
     In November 2019, operating as the Sky Bar Confectionery Company, it was announced that the Sky Bar was once again in production, available online and at the Duck Soup store in Sudbury. Beginning on December 7th, 2019, Sky Bars were sold at a separate Sky Bar store directly adjacent to Duck Soup, with the bar being produced in the rear of the store.
     The Sky Bar candy is part of the popular entertainment culture. A Sky Bar was shown twice in the 2009 film The House of the Devil. Early in the film, the Samantha Hughes character (Jocelin Donahue) opens and begins to consume a Sky Bar while in her college dorm room. Later, during her babysitting job, she's shown eating an already opened Sky Bar.
     In Dimension 20: The Unsleeping City, Sky Bar are a key plot point. Sofia Lee, played by Emily Axford, buys two Sky Bars, afterwards smooshing one into the ground as a sacrifice to her dead husband, eating three segments of the other and offering the last segment to her mentor. [2]

     In the early 1950s, there was a Sky Bar TV commercial that was set to a conga beat ~ “One, two, three, four ~ Sky Bar: You’ll love Necco’s Sky Bar: It’s the four-in-one bar ~ Peanut whip, can’t be beat; English toffee, what a treat; Fudge parfait, boy that’s sweet; Honey-nougat, c’mon let’s eat…etc.” What one nickel could buy back in 1953! [3]

     To this day, the Sky Bar remains the only candy bar to have four different flavored centers: fudge, caramel, peanut and vanilla nougat – making it a truly unique treat.
     The Sky Bar is made up of a crisp, milk chocolate shell that has four chambers or candy compartments. Each block is fairly thick and the centers ooze out from the chocolate when you bite into them. The vanilla center is sweet and has a sugary grit to it. It’s reminiscent of a Cadbury Cream Egg. The peanut butter center is not too thick, or too thin. The peanut butter center is just the right mix of sweet and salty and is a perfect accompaniment to the chocolate. The caramel center is creamy and smooth and leaves those great little sticky bits on the tip of your fingers. The fudge center is rich and chocolaty. It’s fun to have four different flavors to choose from and it’s easy to see why the Sky Bar has been around for so long.[4]

     So, is any candy bar worth more than four-and-half dollars? By comparison, a chocolate Hershey Bar sells for less than one dollar. Many people, particularly New Englanders, apparently think that a Sky Bar is worth the price. As previously noted, times – 1938 to 2022 - have certainly changed. Can you imagine buying a candy bar costing more than four dollars in 1938? On the other hand, can you imagine buying a candy bar for five cents in 2022?

  1. Sky Bar, https://www.skybarcandy.com/aboutus, Accessed 16 November 2022.
  2. Sky Bar, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sky_Bar, 7 November 2022.
  3. New England Today Food, https://newengland.com/today/food/new-england-made/sky-bar-candy/,
    Accessed 16 November 2022.
  4. Sky Bar, https://www.candy.org/sky-bar/, Accessed 16 November 2022.

  24 November 2022 {Article 555; Suggestions?_75}    
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