Spangles
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Spangles

Spangles were a kind of boiled sweets that were sold in the UK for thirty years between 1950 and 1980. These are a traditional kind of candy that is not made by many companies anymore. Lots of people miss Spangles for this reason, as boiled candies have a unique and enjoyable texture and flavor compared to more modern snacks.

There are lots of different kinds of boiled sweets that have gone off the market over the years, much to the dismay of those who love this kind of candy snack. You will not be able to try Spangles these days, but if you know someone who loved Spangles when they were still on the market, they could tell you all about what this yummy little treat was like.

Please leave a review or any memories of this snack in the comments at the bottom of this page. Thank you!

Spangles

History

As mentioned before, Spangles were sold between 1950 and 1980 in the UK. They were wrapped in cellophane but came in paper packets with retro font on them. Each candy was a square shape with rounded edges and a circular depression on each side. 

When the Spangles product first entered the market, candies were still on ration in the UK. This was due to the sugar shortage caused by World War II, which was still an issue. People had to use tokens from their ration book to get candies. At this time, Spangles only cost one ration point instead of two like many other candies. This made them a very popular choice for those who had a sweet tooth and didn’t want to burn through all their points on their ration book each cycle.

The Mars Ltd company made the most of this benefit to the consumer, and they also managed to create lots of very effective marketing campaigns for the little sweets. Spangles appeared in Hopalong Cassidy films along with the slogan, “Hoppy’s favorite sweet!”. There were also more dated slogans that don’t make much sense to use today, such as, “The sweet way to go gay!”

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In the 1970s, after rationing was over, the Mars Ltd company redesigned the packaging of the candies to fit with the “funky” 1970s. The lettering changed to look more retro, and the colors of the packaging were brightened significantly. 

The products sold well into the 1970s, but by the 80s, sales were flagging. Spangles went off the market in 1984 but then were brought back again briefly in 1995 to be sold specifically in Woolworth locations around the UK. During this relaunch, there were limited flavors offered, and you could only get Spangles in tangerine, lime, blackcurrant, and Old English.

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This short-lived revival ended, and Spangles went off the market for good. The Spangles product is now so closely linked with nostalgia in the UK that there is a slogan about this concept, which states, “Do you remember Spangles?”.

This one phrase communicates and encompasses a lot of specific nostalgic references to do with post-war era Britain. As fewer and fewer people remember this time period of British history, the Spangles product and other memorabilia stand out as landmarks that denote the history of a mostly forgotten era.

There were various different kinds of Spangles that were sold during the days when the treats were most popular. Many people remember the various creative flavors of this product with fondness. The closest approximation to the Spangles candies that are still sold today would be the Tunes brand of candies. The shape and the wrappers on these candies are fairly similar to the Spangles product, but there are fewer flavors on offer as compared to the original Spangles treats.

Spangles were often advertised with a heavy focus on the fact that they fit well into a pocket and that they could be enjoyed on the go. Clever advertising campaigns made much of the fact that they were double-wrapped as well, which helped to keep them from making a sticky mess if you kept them around to enjoy later on. This was a new concept for hard candy and one that brought the Spangles product a lot of its early success.

Varieties

There were many Spangles varieties and flavors that were added to the product lineup during the time when these candies were the most popular. There were even fizzy versions of the classic little sweets and minty versions that were meant to serve as breath fresheners.

The original sweets were translucent and came in strawberry, blackcurrant, orange, pineapple, lemon and lime, and cola flavors. Later on, flavors like Acid Drop, Barley Sugar, Spearmint, Fizz Cola, Tangerine, Soft Centre Ice Mints, Golden Mint, and Peppermint were added to the lineup. Old English Spangles were a flavor combination pack that included licorice, mint humbug, pear drop, aniseed, and treacle flavors. 

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The mint pack offered you access to the Soft Centre ice Mints, Golden Mint, and Peppermint varieties all in one roll. This was a very forward-thinking product offering as candies were not yet connected clearly with the breath-freshening product market. Gum was the first product to be added to the list of items that were meant to make your breath more pleasant and enjoyable, followed by candy products. Spangles were nearly all alone in making this connection so early on.

There were lots of different characters that were associated with the various varieties of these sweets, and the Barley Sugar Spangles products were associated with a cartoon Kangaroo, while the fruity flavors were advertised by a pirate more often than not. In between specific character associations with the different kinds of Spangles, kids, and families were shown enjoying these little candies while having fun.

Logo

Spangles Logo

Ingredients

The ingredients in Spangles, beyond sugar, are not clear today. They have been off the market for long enough that the actual ingredient list is not offered by any candy seller. The product also predates requirements for food products to state what ingredients are used to make them. Boiled sweets typically require granulated sugar, water, some form of liquid glucose, cream of tartar, flavorings, and food colorings. It is safe to assume that these are the ingredients that were used to make the Spangles boiled sweets that everyone loved so much.

There are many recipes out there that will allow you to make your own boiled sweets. You can try this simple candy recipe if you are curious about what Spangles candies were like. Be sure to be patient as you give these recipes a try. Candy-making is a precise process that cannot be rushed!

Ads:

Spangles were advertised as being practical sweets that anyone could afford during the post-war era. Later on, as sugar rationing ended, the focus of the ads for this candy type became more about glamor and fun. Spangles were associated with attractive people having fun or with comfortably middle-class families. The cartoonish style of Spangles ads really takes you back to the 1950s and 1960s with a comfortable kind of nostalgia that few other candy products can emulate.

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The shape of the Spangles product was also often mentioned in the ads, encouraging people to try them out. While a square shape might not seem to be endearing when it comes to enjoying candy, many people state that they miss this part of the Spangles product the most. There are a few other hard candies that are sold in a square shape even today, and there is no question that the packaging of the Spangles product benefitted in appearance from the shape of the candies.

Perhaps the most charming of the Spangles ads were the campaigns that made it clear that they would fit right into a pocket. These ads usually featured really beautiful cartoon drawings of pirates, pretty women snacking on the candies, or charming, rosy-cheeked kids enjoying the little boiled sweets. They were also the most likely to show all the flavors of the candies in the roll, which is really exciting since the candies are no longer made today.

Later ads were more photo-realistic and much less visually interesting. These ads from the late 70s and early 80s tended to focus on families having fun and things like kids’ birthday parties. You can clearly see the trends in clothing and the concept of middle-class life-changing as you progress through the eras of Spangles ads. Many candy companies were more focused on gimmicks to make their treats stand out from the crowd, but Spangles candy ads offer an interesting blend of nationalism and social focus that is unusual for a candy product.

Spangles ended up becoming a bit like “the people’s candy” of the UK over the years. There is a time-capsule quality to the ads that were used to promote these products that is really interesting today. In an era where ad campaigns are changed, discarded, and forgotten within a matter of a few weeks, the Spangles ads that you can enjoy looking at online show a clear focus on the presentation of the candy, its uniqueness, and its appeal to people of all ages and interests.

Pictures

Commercials

Please leave a review or any memories of this snack in the comments below. Thank you!

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