Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Zagnut!?

When the film Beetlejuice hit theaters in 1988 it was pretty amazing.  It still stands as an extraordinary piece of film-making by visionary director Tim Burton.

For me it was the first time I noticed Burton’s work, or a candy bar I would come to learn had been around for decades.

Not only did the film showcase the unexpected and unforgettable use of Harry Belafonte’s rendition of Day-O (The Banana Boat Song), but it also featured the strange, non sequitur appearance of a Zagnut bar.

Beetlejuice offers it up

In the post-Family Guy world, out-of-left-field scenes like this are commonplace, but in 1988 you didn’t know quite what to do with it.  For me, I thought it was awfully cool and I never forgot it.

The scene takes place approximately 38 minutes in, when Beetlejuice finds himself still stuck in the miniature town landscape set piece – his erstwhile prison.   A fly walking along the artificial grounds is seeking food, and from out of the ground comes the miniaturized Beetlejuice hands, holding an attractive treat.

Beetlejuice - fly minding his own

Beetlejuice - get over here fly!

Beetlejuice - fly sees the Zagnut

Beetlejuice - Zagnut closeup

Unfortunately for the insect, he doesn’t make it out of the scene.  Instead, as he approaches for the treat, Beetlejuice grabs him and pulls him under.  The fly becomes Beetlejuice’s snack.  Creepy, right?

Even though Zagnut has been around since 1930, I don’t think I had encountered it as a kid.  Maybe by the 1970’s, it wasn’t getting great distribution anymore, or perhaps I just missed it.  Either way, my association with the candy bar is forever linked to this film.  I cannot pick up a Zagnut (a bar which I quite enjoy, now that I’ve had them) without quoting this Beetlejuice scene.  That’s the kind of nerd I am, I suppose.

This finally comes back to my collecting, because due to this film I’ve had a special affection for the bar, and by connection the wrappers.  It took a while, but I finally found the middle 1980’s wrapper style used in the film.    It joined my collection just last year:


Zagnut wrapper proof - 1980's

You may have noticed that the Zagnut wrapper has no folds or tears.  This example was trimmed from a printer’s roll of wrappers – so it’s unused and has never held candy, or been machine-sealed.   I acquired it from a gentleman who found it while cleaning out an abandoned printer’s building.

Just so you can see what a real wrapper like this looks like packaged up on a bar – here’s an image of a full Zagnut from the same era:

Zagnut ad clipping 1984

If you’ve enjoyed this tasty glimpse at the Zagnut today, pop in tomorrow, when I’ll be bringing together more pieces for a complete Zagnut-a-riffic posting.

Don't miss it!!

About Jason Liebig

A New York City based writer, editor and sometimes actor. After spending much of the 1990′s in the comic book business helping tell the stories of Marvel Comics’ X-Men as series editor, he has since split his time between developing his own entertainment properties while still consulting and working on others. Having been described as “the Indiana Jones of lost and forgotten candy”, Jason is one of the country’s premier candy collectors and historians with his discoveries appearing in countless blogs, magazines, newspaper articles, and books. Always happy to share his knowledge and unique perspectives on this colorful part of our popular culture, Jason has consulted with New York’s Museum of Food and Drink and has also been a featured guest on Food Network’s Heavyweights, France’s M6 Capital, and New York’s My Google Profile+
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3 Responses to Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Zagnut!?

  1. Jason, I too loved that Zagnut scene and I think it was my first exposure to that candy bar.

  2. Dane Youssef says:


    Yup, this was MY very first exposure to this candy bar, too! I’d never even heard of the likes of a God-dammed ZAGNUT.

    Maybe because you don’t see them the f–k around much, do you? Nearly every candy bar in existence (even the less popular ones) use the fool-proof ingredient of chocolate in their recipe. Why not ZAGNUT? That’s what made it unique, but also I think by default–a LOT less popular.

    Still, I would like to try one–but after seeing this movie, not if someone like HIM offered it to me. I don’t think I even need to elaborate on why.

    I heard they sell ’em online mostly. And as for this scene, I remembered it a lot for some reason. I’m not sure why exactly. It really creeped me out more that anything else in the picture–than ANYTHING, even the scene where the man himself morphs into a rattlesnake. I remember asking, “Why does he have a thing eating for bugs? First a fly, later a beetle…” Now that I’m older, I get it–irony was the big joke of this movie. Instead of insects eating the dead… the DEAD EAT insects. And even though this guy’s been dead for centuries… he’s got more life and energy than anyone else in the damn flick. So… I’d still like to try a ZAGNUT… but beware an offering even somewhat like this! “Beware predators… strangers offering you a treat and inviting you into their home…”

    But as for candy bars overall, I’m still a “TWIX” man….

    –For All The Candy Right Here in Candyland (and the “Ultimate Spirit of Partying Himself”), Dane Youssef

  3. Jan Burkhardt says:

    Today at my mom’s house I saw a Zagnut bar in her candy dish and I said oh wow, haven’t seen one of these since Beetlejuice! My sister and my daughter who knew the film well didn’t remember the scene. Of course, had to look on the interwebs to prove I wasn’t making it up and glad to find your story here! I do remember getting these in my Halloween candy in the 60s. 🙂

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