Flickr: Mike Mozart

An Ode to the Charleston Chew

What's your favorite nostalgic candy bar? Maybe it's the Clark Bar or the Zero Bar. Maybe you're a fan of the GooGoo Cluster. Or maybe your favorite is the chewy flavored nougat with a chocolate coating known as the Charleston Chew. This popular candy bar is almost a hundred years old, and while you might have to look a little harder to find it, the Charleston Chew is still around and still a great candy bar.

The Charleston Chew was made and sold by the Fox-Cross Candy Company. They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and in this case, that invention was a confection. Donley Cross - the Cross in the Fox-Cross Candy Company - was a Shakespearean stage actor in San Francisco. During a performance, he fell off the stage and injured his back enough that he wasn't able to keep acting.

Cross created the candy company with Charlie Fox in 1920, and in 1922 they introduced the Charleston Chew. The first version of this candy bar was chewy vanilla nougat covered in a milk chocolate coating. The candy bar was named after the Charleston, a popular dance at the time. (Remember the dance where George and Mary fall into the covered swimming pool in "It's a Wonderful Life"? That's the Charleston.)

In 1957, Nathan Sloane, who started his candy career as a candy distributor at age 16, bought the Fox-Cross Candy Company. Sloane added the chocolate and strawberry flavors, but he was also responsible for one of the things for which the candy bar is best known.

Some candy bars are good when they're frozen. Sloane, leaning into the relatively new refrigeration and freezer availability in individual homes, promoted the idea of freezing Charleston Chew candy bars to turn the chewy nougat into a crunchy texture. Turning the candy bar crunchy wasn't just about the taste; it was also fun. Fans loved getting the "Charleston Crack" by smacking the candy bars on a hard surface to create bite-size pieces.

In 1980, Sloane sold his company to Nabisco. Warner-Lambert bought the Charleston Chew from Nabisco is 1988, and then sold the brand to Tootsie Roll Industries in 1993. In 1998, the company introduced Charleston Mini Chews, bite-sized versions of the original candy bar.

The candy bar is made with corn syrup, sugar, palm kernel oil, nonfat dry milk, cocoa, lactose, milk protein concentrate, egg albumen, artificial flavor, lecithin and salt.

You can buy the regular size candy bars and the mini Charleston Chews still today.

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