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Watch For Those Fancy Containers

Anyone interested in the “country” look needs to be on the lookout for the fancy containers used to hold coffee, tea and spices for sale around the beginning of the 20th century. These containers were usually produced by the manufacturer of the product and sold to the company’s distributors. These middlemen, in turn, added painting and lettering to their own specifications and provided them to their retail outlets. This created differences even in the containers of one company.

Many of the containers were very colorful, with elaborate painted designs of exotic places where the coffee, tea or spice might have originated (at least as it looked in the artist’s imagination.) Colorful lithographs were also used to decorate the exterior. Some even incorporated mirrors in the design.

The tins came in a variety of sizes. A unit that was free standing on the floor was a bin; an elaborate counter unit was termed a caddy; plainer or simpler pieces were simply called canisters or cans; any kind of a combination unit was a cabinet.

Although all of the containers were mass produced in fairly large quantities, some as late as the 1960s, they have also been popular with collectors for many years, and so not too many show up in the marketplace today.

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Glass Knives A Depression Era Product

Glass knives were made by many companies from the 1920s to the 1950s, although most date to the 1930s and 1940s. They were made in colors to complement Depression-era glass dinnerware.

Shades of blue, crystal and pink were popular; amber and dark green knives are harder to find. Some knives had hand-painted fruit and floral designs, although these decorations have often been washed away through the years.

The knife blades were ground sharp edges. Many pieces found today will have the blades nicked after years of use. Nicks are acceptable to most collectors if the knife is otherwise in good shape.

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History Of Factory-Made Candy
Has Familiar Names

Manufactured candy first made its appearance in 1845. Sebastian Chauveau of Phila­delphia pioneered in the commercial production of jujubes, gumdrops and marshmallows, using a revolving steam pan.

About the ame time, the Chase brothers in Boston invented a mill to make powdered sugar and a roller to cut lozenges. In 1866, Donald Chase came up with an idea still marketed today. He developed a technique for imprinting mottoes on candy. These “conversation lozenges” are still widely sold on Valentine’ Day.

By the start of the 20th century, annual sales topped 60 million dollars for candy companies. Their products ranged from fancy boxed gift candy to children’s penny candy.

The children could choose to spend their pennies on Chocolate Babies, licorice whips, jawbreakers, mint leaves, orange slices, marshmallow bananas or lollipops. Joining the scene just a little later were Boston Baked Beans (sugar-coated peanuts,) those little wax bottles filled with a sweet colored liquid, and the Tootsie Roll.

Candy bars for a nickel began competing for the candy trade in the 1920s. At that time, popular choices were Mary Jane, Mason Crows, Oh Henry, Baby Ruth (named after the daughter of President Grover Cleveland,) and Goobers.
There were also the packaged items such as Good ‘N Plenty, Life Savers and Necco Wafers (one of the original early candies, made by the New England Confection Co., which is where the name comes from.)

In 1919, Peter Paul Halazian operated two candy and ice cream stores in Connecticut, where he served products of coconut and nuts blended with chocolate. These were so popular locally that he founded a company to make the candy on a large scale. His two products, Mounds and Almond Joy, were the result.

At about the same time, Frank and Ethel Mars started their candy business in a loft in Minneapolis. Snickers came first, soon followed by Milky Way, Three Musketeers, Mars and then M & Ms.

Milton Snavely Hershey, at age 15, became an apprentice to a caramel maker, in 1872. He tried twice on his own to start candy businesses, specializing in caramels. Both went bankrupt. However, he managed to scrape together enough credit to try one more time. In 1893, he purchased some special chocolate-making machines from Germany, left over from the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. He started making Hershey bars, both plain and almond, in 1895. Hershey Kisses were introduced in 1906.

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