While older people might think of this as a term used to talk about someone that was dating a rich man, and younger people might think of this as a wealthy woman supporting a younger man, this was also the name of a candy. The fictitious “wife” of the Sugar Daddy candy, the Sugar Mama candy product, experienced a fairly short life span when compared to the more well-known Sugar Daddy candies and Sugar Babies candy.
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All of these candies were based on a very old candy-making recipe that came from Jamaica at one time, and this soft, chewy, caramelly candy has been popular since it first came onto the scene in the US. If you have tried Sugar Daddy or Sugar Babies, you know what most of the flavor profile of the Sugar Mama candy was like. The only difference was that Sugar Mama was covered in chocolate.
To talk about Sugar Mama candy, we need to look into the history of the foundational product, which was the Sugar Daddy. This candy was first sold in the 60s, and it was a unique product for its day. It was a caramel candy that was loosely square in shape that was affixed to a stick. This is still how the candy is made today, and despite the slightly sloppy look of this candy, it is a favorite of many people.
Sugar Mama’s chocolate layer would have covered up some of the unfinished appearance of the Sugar Daddy, but this lack of neatness seems not to impact sales of the candy products. Even the Sugar Babies candies are irregular and not evenly shaped, which seems like it should matter more to consumers than it apparently does. In a world where there are regular, round, and pretty candies on the market like M&Ms, it seems like the height of faith in the consumer that Sugar babies can be so sloppy-looking and still sell effectively. The taste of this candy is so unique, however, that the appearance seems not to impact the overall success of the product.
Sugar Mama was introduced in 1965 and was sold as a companion to Sugar Daddy candy. This was a chocolate-covered Sugar Daddy bar, and the marketing plan was to make these two bars a “couple” which was associated with the Sugar Babies product. This was a little bit unique as a marketing idea for a candy product, but it did help tie together the three products based on the popularity of the original little caramel on a stick.
Sugar Babies have probably made the transition to the modern candy market the most successful when compared with the two parent bars, but Sugar Daddy has been able to stay relevant to people who love caramel candies. Sugar Mama likely floundered nearly right out of the gate because people were already moving past simple single-ingredient candies and becoming more enchanted with complex candy bars.
The Sugar Mama bar was just a caramel center with a layer of chocolate over it. This was likely just not a complex enough mix of flavors and textures for people who were looking for a chocolate treat. The other trouble for Sugar Mama candy might have been that it was sold with a different wrapper than the other two products. The association with the Sugar Daddy candy line was probably less clear due to this and might have made people less willing to try the Sugar Mama candy.
While the Sugar Daddy and Sugar Babies were sold with a yellow wrapper or in a yellow box with reddish lettering and designs on the front, the Sugar Mama candy was sold with a red and yellow wrapper which was meant to be the opposite of the Sugar Daddy bar. The current owner of the Sugar Daddy and Sugar Babies products has not changed the way that the livery of the candy appears, which probably indicates just how connected this marketing style is with the original candy.
The Sugar Mama bar went off the market in the 1980s. Nabisco was the one who made a choice to remove it from the lineup before they sold to Warner-Lambert in 1988. Tootsie Roll has had ownership of the remaining two candies that were part of the original family since 1993.
This is a candy company that is usually open to bringing back products that have a fan following, but there appears to have been no movement to bring back the Sugar Mama. Despite being sold for more than twenty years, this candy just seems not to have had a big following.
Since this product is not on the market any longer, it is hard to find information about the ingredients that were listed on each candy. However, since the candy was essentially a sugar daddy with a chocolate layer on the outside, we can list the Sugar Daddy ingredients here:
- Corn syrup
- Palm oil
- Dry whole milk
- Natural and artificial flavors
- Soy lecithin
Add to this recipe the ingredients for milk chocolate layered on top, and you have the full list of ingredients for the Sugar Mama candy.
What About Sugar Mama Caramels?
There was another variant of the candy that was not sold in the red wrappers with a stick in it, just like Sugar Daddy. These were sold more like traditional caramels with a yellow and blue wrapper. Sugar Mama caramels were more compact and were a more traditional version of the Sugar Babies version of the candy in many ways. This is probably the version of the candies that are most familiar to kids from the 70s and 80s.
This is also a discontinued product, but it does seem to have a more popular following than the original candy did. This is one of the shorter-lived variants within this brand and one that few people are aware of. If you did try these yummy little squares of caramel at Halloween or the movie theater, you probably remember them quite clearly.
The caramel candy market has changed a lot since these products were made to be sold as stand-alone items. Most caramels were originally competitive in the candy market because they did not melt in the summer heat. During the early years of candy sales, when air conditioning was not common, and companies could not refrigerate their products, this was a really important factor for certain candy products.
Now that caramels are considered a bit old-fashioned, and refrigeration has relegated caramels to the lower rungs of the candy ladder, you might be more familiar with caramel as just an ingredient inside a candy bar. The Sugar Mama candy in this other version would probably not be worth producing since the Sugar Babies product is essentially the same thing. This is the trouble with candy products that have been around for so many generations. Many of them have become obsolete over time as the candy market changes and people’s tastes evolve.
Speculation About the Sugar Mama Candy Story
Many people who were familiar with the Sugar Mama and Sugar Daddy story that was used for marketing the candies in the 60s and 70s have always had a lot of questions. Why did Sugar Mama and Sugar Daddy get together? Why did they have so many kids? What kind of marriage was this? These questions were not answered by James O Welch company, and they linger today.
One of the most lasting impressions that Sugar Mama candy left on consumers was a feeling of confusion about how she entered the scene and what happened to her when she left. The slightly soap opera feeling to this marketing ploy was likely entirely accidental, and it has been the legacy of the Sugar Mama candy overall. Many people finally noticed this candy when it was pulled from shelves and not because they were interested in trying it. It was simply associated with the “family” of candies, and this was about as much investment as many consumers seemed to put into the product.
Most of the TV ads that you lookup for this lineup of candies make no mention of Sugar Mama candy. This might have been a contributing factor toward the candy’s demise. So many people knew that the other two products existed. It makes you wonder why Sugar Mama candy was not given the same attention by any of the companies that were involved in making it and selling it.
Perhaps the thought was that the print ads that were being run would cover the bases for this part of the lineup. It is hard to imagine making and trying to sell a product that you did not let people know about, but it is likely that the plan was to let the candies speak for themselves.
This is a 1970s era ad for the candy line up as a family:
Another ad for Sugar Babies and Sugar Daddy with no mention of Sugar Mama candy:
My name is Brianna and I love writing on all topics. Candy history fascinates me and I am passionate about sharing my love of this topic with everyone else!
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