Nips Candy (History, Marketing & Commercials)

Not everyone loves coffee-flavored candies, but if you do, you likely a big fan of Nips candy. These little treats combine hard candy goodness with a coffee flavor.

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Nips are a candy that has been around since the 50s, but are still popular today in specific circles. As candy marketing has changed, you might find that you have to get this confectionary item online, but that does not mean that they do not still exist. So many classic candies are sold entirely online these days, and Nips are one of the products that are best tracked down using this shopping method.

Nips Candy

Nips Candy History

The Nips candy product was invented by Barney Pearson. Pearson was from Russia, and he started his company with candies that he made by hand. These were sucker-style products that were made by dipping a wooden stick into the warm candy that would form the sucker. Pearson actually worked all the way through the Great Depression making candy and was still helping make products at the factory when he passed away at 54.

His son, Ed, had started working at Pearson’s Candy Company during the Depression. He had originally intended just to work there to help keep the business afloat during the Depression, but he ended up serving as the president of the company after his father passed away. Daniel Pearson, Ed’s brother, joined the company in 1945 to serve as General Manager and to help with accountant duties.

Once the two brothers were working together, they decided to work on new products to add to the company’s lineup. They added candy canes, suckers, and hand-wrapped candies to the product line. Nips were one of the hand-wrapped candies which were added to the stable of Pearson Candy company products in the 60s.

The Pearsons also released Licorice Nips and Caramel Nips at the same time as the coffee version of the candy. Many people who love a good hard candy remember all of these different versions of the candy nip, but the coffee version is still the most popular. The device which made it possible to make these little candies was patented in 1961, and a version of the device is still used to create these iconic hard candy products.

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The Coffee Nip was made using European candy-making processes, which were researched by the Pearsons before adding new products to their stable. With the help of Claude Barnett, who was a food chemist, Dan Pearson worked on creating a product that someone would want to enjoy on a break at work. The idea behind the Coffee Nip was that it would make a coffee break possible even when you did not have time to sit down and drink a real cup of coffee.

There was no laboratory or test kitchen at the Pearson Candy Company, so they made small batches of these treats instead and tested them on their own. The process of creating the right blend of cooked caramel and coffee took some time to perfect, but eventually, Barnett was successful. 

Copying the European candy styling that Pearson had liked so much when he was researching this kind of candy product, the Coffee Nip was released to market wrapped in gold foil with fancy cellophane. The wrapper was twisted at both ends, and the wrappers were coffee brown, chartreuse, and backed with an inner layer of foil to protect the candies. The products were a big enough success to justify all of the efforts to make them, and the Pearson company made sure to market them like fancy candies that were upscale. The European styling of the product was leaned on to help make Coffee Nips seem more highbrow than other hard candies.

Coffee Nips remained the most popular of the candy products that the Pearson family made during the 42 years that the company was in business. This seems like an unlikely outcome given how unusual coffee candies are, but the recipe walked the line between caramel goodness and coffee flavor perfectly. There is just as much to love about this kind of candy if you love caramel candies more than any other candy type of hard candy.

In 1968, Pearson Candy Company was sold to W.R. Grace Company. This company sold the Pearson products to Nabisco in 1982. Nestle bought the products in 1989. There are various other hard candies that were sold along with Nips to Nestle, and the product lineup which accompanies Nips includes the Caramel and Licorice Nips products, as well as these other products:

  • Chocolate Parfait Nips
  • Mint Parfait Nips
  • Dulce de Leche Nips
  • All-Day Suckers
  • It’s a Winner Suckers
  • Whirl Suckers
  • Berry Pops
  • Coffeoca Candy
  • Peanut Butter Crunch Candy
  • Wrapped Hard Candies
  • Candy Canes
  • Ball & Wafer Candy
  • Jumbo Pop’s
  • Foil Wrapped Candies
  • Pick-A-Mix Bulk Candies
  • Caramel Candies
  • Filled Candies
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The Pearson name has been dropped from the product wrappers and boxes, so you will just see them called “Nips” these days. Not all of the other products which were sold to Nestle at the same time as Nips are still being produced. You might not be able to find all the various kinds of Nips on the market at all times either. 

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The Ferrara Candy Company has taken over most of the sales of this product today. Ferrara is known for promoting and producing many classic candies that might otherwise not be produced any longer. This candy company has kept a lot of these lovely older products alive and well despite fierce competition in many of these candy products’ niche markets and in spite of major changes to the way that candy products are sold.

While you might not be able to track down Nips at the corner candy store anymore, and you might not see it on the shelves of the stores that you head to frequently, you can still get these little treats online. Classic candies are so delightfully simple, and many people still miss the time of these kinds of simple hard candies that are so unpretentious.

Even if you are not a huge fan of coffee, you might want to try out this little hard candy to see what it’s all about. There are many candies like Nips which might one day go off the market, and you will have missed out if you did not give them a chance when they were still being sold.

Do Nips Provide Enough Coffee to Wake You Up?

While there was a lot of marketing around the idea that Nips were like a coffee break in candy form, there is not enough coffee in these little treats to wake you up like a cup of real coffee. The concept of the Nips “coffee break” was more a nod to the chance to take a break and rest for a bit. This is a lot like the Kit Kat Bar advertising ploy, which indicated that Kit Kats were great reasons to take a break and chill out.

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Nips were never meant to replace the energizing power of coffee, but there were plenty of people who did not let their kids have these little candies because of worries about their kids getting too hyper from eating them. This is one of the lasting popular beliefs about this candy product that many people have perpetuated despite its lack of substantiation. Marketing can be really powerful, and these kinds of suggestions that are made by marketing efforts can really stick with the public.

Since this was not a candy product that many kids were likely to enjoy based on the flavor profile, it is not likely that this confusion impacted the product negatively. This little fact is more of an interesting note about the associations that many people have about the Nips candy products if they enjoyed them when they were first released.

Coffee candies are a really popular product, and many people make the mistake of thinking that buying a candy that is flavored with coffee will offer them a pick-me-up during a busy day. Since mind over matter is so powerful, it is possible that these candies might seem to have this kind of power even if they are not making an actual change in your caffeine levels.

Nips Candy Logo

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Nips Candy Ingredients

From the Ferrara Candy entry to buy Nips:

  • Corn 
  • Syrup Sugar
  • Reduced Fat Milk (Milk, Nonfat Milk)
  • Hydrogenated Coconut Oil
  • Whey
  • And Less Than 1% Of Salt, Mono-And Diglycerides, Natural Flavors, and Soy Lecithin.

The company discloses that the product contains soy and milk ingredients and that it could also contain peanuts. There is also a disclaimer that products can be artificially flavored. 

Nips Candy Nutrition

Serving Size:2 pieces (14g)% Daily Value*
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat 1.5g2%
Saturated Fat 1.5g8%
Sodium 35mg1%
Total Carbohydrates 11g4%
Sugars 7g
Added Sugars6g12%
Protein 0g
Vitamin D 0mcg0%
Calcium 0.8mg0%
Iron 0mg0%
Potassium 30mg1%
  • The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Pictures of Nips Candy

Nips Candy Commercials:

An ad from 1996 that is animated:

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6 thoughts on “Nips Candy (History, Marketing & Commercials)”

  1. I am hoping after all the years, you will start making the black licorice nips again. I have waited so long in hopes of them being made again !!! They were my favorite candy !

    • I have a feeling we won’t be seeing too many Nips at all. At least how we are used to seeing them.
      It looks like they are owned by Brach’s candy now. They are sold in 3.25 oz bags now and cost over $3.00 per bag on Amazon.
      I hope they bring back the licorice flavor too, I never had the chance to try that one

  2. It’s been a roller coaster ride regarding Caramel Nips. First, the news of being discontinued (devastating). Then I found they are back and it sounds like it’s the original formula (hurrah!) but now ridiculously expensive. I’m not sure that I’ll be purchasing them.


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