Perhaps one of the most ill-conceived confections ever devised, candy cigarettes enjoyed enormous popularity among children of decades past, and the 1970s was no exception. Available in a variety of forms, they gave kids a way to emulate their heroes of the day, who always seemed to have a cigarette dangling from their lips, or a pack rolled up in their t-shirt sleeve.
First introduced in the 50s, candy cigarettes quickly became a favorite among youngsters, mostly from the allure of looking more adult-like than for the actual flavor. Still, many can still remember exactly what they tasted like. The thin white rods in each pack (each with a little dab of red food dye on the tip for effect) were chalky in texture with a hint of mint flavoring.
Despite the size of each box, which was mostly filled with air, each “cigarette” was thinner and shorter than their real-world counterpart and it wasn’t uncommon to finish of an entire pack in a few minutes.
Some of you may also remember the bubble gum variety which consisted of a cigarette-sized piece of colored chewing gum that was wrapped in thin paper. Although the gum wasn’t very flavorful, it was coated in a layer of powder (presumably powdered sugar) that kept it from sticking to the paper.
Thanks to this coating, if you exhaled through the cigarette paper, you could blow out a nice little cloud of powdery “smoke” as if you were really smoking! For a kid trying to emulate an adult, it didn’t get much better than that.
Of course, if bubble gum was your desire, there was a better option than the gum cigarettes. You wanted an El Bubble cigar. Made by Dubble Bubble, the cigars had a much better flavor and were available in fruit, banana and mint. The large portion of gum was softer and more conducive to actually blowing bubbles.
Finally, if you were more of a chocolate person, you could also get your faux cigarette fix. Much like the gum cigarettes, these consisted of tubes of chocolate wrapped in paper. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the generous coating of white powder so you would need to use your imagination to see those wisps of white smoke.
As you might have surmised, this entire line of confections fell out of favor as we learned more about the dangers of smoking. When the 80s arrived, candy cigarettes began disappearing from store shelves. Today, you won’t see them in the candy aisle, but you can find them online and at the occasional vintage candy shop. Bubble gum cigars too!
Were you a fan of candy cigarettes as a kid? Did you blow powdery smoke from the end of a bubble gum cigarette? I hope you’ll take a moment to share your memories of these politically incorrect snacks in the comments section below.