10 Nostalgic Candies You Should Buy as Stocking Stuffers

10 Nostalgic Candies You Should Buy as Stocking Stuffers

Put down that plastic candy cane full of Reese's Miniatures and buy something unique.

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Old fashioned candy displayed in bags
Photo: Alena Ozerova (Shutterstock)

The term “stocking stuffers” has been co-opted in recent years to mean “any item that could feasibly fit inside a stocking.” This usage, disastrously, encompasses items like smart watches, Fitbits, and AirPods, all of which cost upwards of $100—hardly a small gift, wouldn’t you say? Luckily, there’s something a lot smaller, cheaper, and less breakable that will delight your loved ones (nearly) as much as wearable tech: vintage candy.

Get your friends and family something that will spark their sense of nostalgia this year—something that’s fun, unexpected, and won’t take up any extra room in the house. Here are 10 nostalgic candies to add to the stockings this year.

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Just like Halloween, Christmas is a time when we can ease up on trying to get kids to indulge in anything remotely resembling actual food. Go ahead, let them eat pure sugar on Christmas morning. These cute Fun Dip packets can be purchased in packs of 24 for everyone on your list, and they feature a snowman on each packet. For just $12 you can introduce a whole new generation to the joys of sour sugar powder.

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John Oliver‘s opinion on circus peanuts

Wait, don’t leave! Hear me out! The humble, hated Circus Peanut is the perfect addition to any white elephant gift exchanges you might have planned this holiday season. After all, what would you want to swap out faster than a bag of these blaze orange, banana-flavored marshmallow monstrosities? Hey, at least they’re free of major allergens. You can order them in a variety of sizes ($8.27 for a single package, $84.03 for 20 pounds of the stuff) from manufacturer Spangler.

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Boardroom is back!

“America’s #1 Gummi” is celebrating its 100th year in business, and you can celebrate with a limited-edition 100th anniversary bag of Haribo Golbears complete with blue party hats inside. Everyone’s favorite gummi bears come in a gold package to match their name, making them all the more attractive to receive in one’s stocking. Plus—speaking from experience here—everyone seems to have a great time reminiscing about those Haribo ads where the adults speak like kids (see above).

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The name “Goetze’s” might not ring a bell, but you’ve definitely seen these classic candies before. Whether you like prefer to eat them as a long rope (Cow Tales) or as bite-sized disks (Bullseyes), the chewy caramel enrobing a frosting-like interior is undeniably fun to eat, especially if it’s fresh. You can buy a selection of seasonal gifts from the Goetze’s online store, which ensures you’ll get your candy fresh from the factory. Both Cow Tales and Caramel Creams now come in a range of flavors beyond the original, including Brownie, Oreo, and Caramel Apple.

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Vintage Pearson’s Salted Nut Roll Commercial 1970's

Not everyone likes chocolate, you know. For the fans of sweet-and-salty candies, it doesn’t get any better than Pearson’s Salted Nut Roll—and the King Size roll is a pleasingly hefty gift to discover inside one’s stocking on Christmas morning. The caramel-wrapped nougat center of this candy is superior to that of its competitor, the PayDay bar, and the vintage look and feel of the wrapper will have the recipient feeling all nostalgic as they take a big honkin’ bite.

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5th Avenue Candy Commercial

When it comes to the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups get all the glory—but don’t discount their early-20th-century contemporary, the 5th Avenue Bar. Featuring Hershey chocolate on the outside with layers of peanut-butter-flavored crunch within, the bar is sort of like a Butterfinger, but flakier, and less liable to cement your teeth together. Best of all, this is a candy bar you can bundle with a fun fact: It was originally made by Luden’s, the folks we associate with wild cherry cough drops. (And since it was acquired by Hershey in 1986, it has some delightfully retro advertising, as seen above.)

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As soon as your loved ones find Pop Rocks in their stockings, it’s all but guaranteed that at least one of them will tear open the packet right then and there to relive the visceral memory of all those crackles and snaps on their tongue. While they come in a variety of flavors (including the dreaded Cotton Candy), for my money, there’s nothing more nostalgic than Blue Raspberry, whose utter artificiality is enough to transport you back to childhood.

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BIG Cherry With Chocolate & Peanuts - Christopher’s Big Cherry Taste Test - All City Candy Unwrapped

There’s something about the Big Cherry that’s supremely satisfying to hold in your hand—it’s bigger than a golfball, smaller than a softball, and weighty in your palm, the promise of all that you’re about to nosh on. This individually wrapped treat features an exterior of chocolate and chopped roasted peanuts, an ever so slightly stiff layer of “cherry creme,” and a maraschino cherry center. It’s fun to gift these to folks who have never tried one, then see the look on their face when they hit the unexpected cherry in the middle. While the Twin Bing—another adorably vintage-looking option—is a similar product that comes two to a package, it lacks the actual fruit center, so isn’t quite as dynamic.

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Abba Zaba... you my only friend (Half Baked)

The Abba Zaba bar, a century-old product made famous by the 1998 movie Half Baked, features a layer of vanilla taffy hugging a strip of real peanut butter in the center. Its wrapper looks like an old-fashioned taxi cab, with bright checks of yellow and black, and unlike so many holiday treats it won’t create any crumbs on the carpet Christmas morning. Major caveat here: Try bending the Abba Zaba through the package to make sure it has some give before handing it off to the recipient. A stale Abba Zaba is almost impossible to eat, as not even a chef’s knife can cut through its rock-hard layers once it has lost its taffy spring.

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TASTE TEST TIME! Regal Crown Sour Grape candy! 🍇

In the realm of hard candies, these Regal Crown Sour Candies blow Life Savers and Jolly Ranchers out of the water. As the video notes above, they’re not really “sour” in the modern sense of the word; instead, they’re tangy, sweet, and bursting with juicy fruit flavor. These come in Grape, Cherry, Lemon, and Apple varieties; you can get an assortment as stocking stuffers and your recipients can swap and share flavors among themselves, ranking the deliciousness of each. Every piece is individually wrapped, so it’s easy to toss a roll of these in a purse or backpack on the go.

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