They named it what?!? – A Zagnut-o-Rama!

I can’t imagine there’s a candy bar as oddly-named as the Zagnut, and while I’ve researched quite a lot on it, the origins of the name itself are lost to time.

My initial attraction to the brand came from its cameo appearance in the movie Beetlejuice, which I detailed yesterday.  Today, I’m going to focus on the broader range of Zagnut wrappers in my collection.

A sister to the Clark bar, Zagnut was first launched in 1930 by the D.L. Clark company, and it is still sold today.  It bears mentioning that while Zagnut is now sold by Hershey, the Clark bar is currently a Necco brand.   It’s a bit unusual, but it would appear that when the Clark brands were sold off, they were done so individually.

This is my earliest Zagnut wrapper – and it likely dates back to some of the earliest years of the brand:

Clark - Zagnut - 5-cent candy bar wrapper - 1930's-1940's

Lightning bolts were a brand-wide design feature on all bars sold by Clark for decades.  With Zagnut, the lightning bolt design became part of the typeface itself.   Because of this, older Zagnut wrappers have always reminded me of something out of an early 20th century carnival or midway.  I could easily see these logos being used for a magician named “Zagnut the Great!”

Clark's - Zagnut - candy bar wrapper - 1940's 1950's

It’s difficult to accurately date wrappers like these without corroborating information to go along with them.  For these pre-70’s Zagnut wrappers, my dates might be off and the order could be mixed-up, but I took an educated guess.  I have determined dates for these Zagnuts based largely on the other wrappers they were found with – and assumed they were saved during the same period.

DL Clark company - Clark Zagnut - NEW - candy bar wrapper - 1950's 1960's

The cool lightning bolt style of Zagnut packaging lasted into the 1960’s, which can be seen in this series of 1963 trade ads:

Clark - Zagnut trade ad - April 1963

Clark - Zagnut Halloween trade ad - August 1963

Clark and Zagnut Junior bars trade announcement - July 1963

Clark - Zagnut Junior bars trade announcement - May 1963

A few years later, the brand underwent a significant visual overhaul.  The sideshow style of graphics gave way to a more modern interpretation, as seen on this 1967 trade ad:

Clark bunch trade ad - July 1967

Clark Bars trade ad - August 1971

I have a two variations of Zagnut wrappers from the 1970’s; both are pre-UPC with the main differentiating factor being that one has a pre-printed price, and the other does not:

Clark - Zagnut - 15-cent candy bar wrapper - 1970's

Clark - Zagnut 1 1-2 oz candy bar wrapper - 1970's

This wrapper style lasted well through the 1970’s, perhaps making into the 1980’s.  By 1982, the brand received another major refresh, which was also about the time that Leaf acquired the Clark brands:

Leaf - Clark - Zagnut - candy bar wrapper proof - mid 1980's

While still under the Leaf name, the Zagnut would undergo its latest redesign, which appears to have happened just before or after 1990.  It is a design the wrappers retain to this day:

Leaf - Zagnut candy bar wrapper - Early 1990's

Hershey - Zagnut - chocolate candy bar wrapper - 2010

Finally, here’s a timeline of the major Zagnut wrapper designs I have in my collection: Zagnut Timeine

That’s all I have for Zagnut today.  Before I sign-off, here’s a fun 1960’s commercial that makes quite a lot of fun of the Zagnut name, and includes a bit of fabricated mythology of how it came to be:



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+
This entry was posted in 1960's, 1970's, 1980's, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to They named it what?!? – A Zagnut-o-Rama!

  1. Tom says:

    The actor portraying the plant supervisor in the commercial is Harold Peary, best known as The Great Gildersleeve of the Golden Age of Radio.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *