Wednesday, March 25, 2015

On the Avenue... Fifth Avenue...

What I don't eat for you.

Hershey makes the 5th Avenue bar, but you'd hardly know it. You don't see the Hershey logo on the wrapper. Heck, you almost never see the wrapper. I know only one store in town that sells these.

The history of the 5th Avenue bar is shrouded in mystery, and possibly conspiracy. I'm serious. The Wikipedia page says it may have been introduced by the Luden's company in 1936, but "This date is uncertain because information about this product has been subject to misinformation from The Hershey Company for marketing and perhaps legal reasons."

What the hey? Hershey has sent the history of this thing down the memory hole? What is this, chocolate bar or commissar?

Indeed, Hershey's page has almost nothing to say about their own candy bar. "First introduced in 1936, this chocolate peanut butter bar contributed to the war effort—and is still enjoyed today." Which 1936 war would that be? Was the 5th Avenue bar a major player in the Spanish Revolution? WHAT ARE YOU HIDING, HERSHEY?

As for the bar itself, it's virtually identical to a Butterfinger, which is of course a Nestle candy.

The tragic thing is, the 5th Avenue bar used to have a couple of almond halves on top, which would have differentiated it from the Butterfinger. They removed the almonds in 1988. In John Homans's Wilber Winkle Has a Complaint!, the fictitious Winkle wrote a genuine letter to the actual Hershey's company to complain about the almond situation (this was in 1993). Hershey's claimed that the change was part of a revamping to improve the quality of the bar, and customers liked it better (it's virtual demise on candy shelves by 2015 would seem to expose that as a misrepresentation). Winkle did not let it go, pursuing the matter in letter after letter through most of 1994. They should have listened to Winkle.

Hershey bought the candy from Luden's parent in 1986, says the Wiki article; the better-known Luden's cough drops are now sold by Prestige Brands, which also has Goody's headache powder, Clear Eyes, Dramamine, and a whole potpourri of other OTC medical stuff. Hard to believe that Luden's started out as a candy company.

1965 Life magazine ad. This girl is probably 68 today. Just sayin'.

On the whole I liked the 5th Avenue bar, even though it originated in Pennsylvania. It didn't really make me think of the street.

Hey, I wonder if Hershey's bought Almond Royal too...? Mmmm...

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