After years of hunting – Willy Wonka’s Daredevils – Discovered!

Collecting candy is a crazy kind of hobby.  Sometimes you can spend years hunting for any trace of a brand or piece of packaging, and never find one.  But it’s not always so tough – typically there is a photo or a mention somewhere.   With Willy Wonka’s Daredevils, there was no such thing – until last week, this was one of what I call a Sasquatch of candy boxes.  Before today, the only evidence you could find of these were the vague recollections and distant memories of those who witnessed them 30 years ago.

So it is that I can state with some confidence that the title image for today’s piece represents the first the internet has seen of this hot cinnamon Gobstoppers cousin – well, aside from a sticker – but I’ll get to that.

Released in 1982 by the newly-named Willy Wonka Brands division of Sunmark (formerly Breaker Confections) – Daredevils were very simply, a hot variety of Gobstopper.  Rather than having multiple rings of flavors like their Gobstopper cousins, Daredevils had rings of hot, interspersed with rings of cool.  A pretty great idea and I remember loving these.

Because they were a childhood favorite, when I started collecting, I sought Daredevils out.  At first, I didn’t even remember exactly what they were called, but then I happened upon a sticker sheet in an eBay lot of 1970’s and 1980’s premium stickers.  This sheet of stickers was originally  part of the Willy Wonka Fun Club Kit from the mid-1980’s, and it turned out to be my first collecting modern encounter with Willy Wonka’s Daredevils mascot:

Wonka Fun Club Sticker sheet – 1985

Clipped from the side-panel of a 1985 Count Chocula cereal box, here’s a breakdown of what the entire Willy Wonka Fun Club kit consisted of (I’d love to find a complete one of these kits):

Wonka Fun Cliub kit image from Count Chocula box – 1985

That sticker sheet is remarkable in that it provides names to Wonka mascots I’ve rarely, and in some cases, never seen used anywhere else.  Even the Daredevil got a name.

Danny Daredevil

I found that sticker sheet just over five years ago, and ever since, I’ve asked every collector I encountered if they had a Daredevils box, or had ever seen one.  The answer was always no.  But that all changed last week, and I am thrilled to report that a Daredevils box has found its way into my collection.  So here it is, Internet – a tasty piece of 1980’s candy nostalgia you’ve never seen before:

Sunmark - Willy Wonka's - Daredevils hot jawbreaker candy - box - 1982

Sunmark – Willy Wonka’s – Daredevils hot jawbreaker candy – box – 1982

A striking box with its black backround and graphic white logo.  The logo features a style that is purposely reminiscent of Wonka’s main jawbreaker product logo of the time – Gobstoppers:

Gobstopper – Daredevils logo comparison

As with any great collector-hunt, finding a piece like this is thrilling.  But this thrill is even more profound as this Daredevils discovery is part of a much larger find:  I have taken on the curation of another collector’s large confectionery preservation achievement – The L.M. Kallok Collection.  I’ll be writing and sharing more about this wondrous collection in the coming months, both here and on my Flickr pages.  So stay tuned – it’s going to be a lot of fun.

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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14 Responses to After years of hunting – Willy Wonka’s Daredevils – Discovered!

  1. Brandon says:

    Congrats on the “hot” find! Great post!

  2. Todd says:

    Super find of such an elusive box!! For me, Daredevils was a favorite back in the day and I’ve been wanting to see/find a box for years. Congrats on the find and hopefully because of your post, more will start showing up.

  3. Kevin says:

    This post made me think of a candy I never got to try, and only saw once, probably sometime in the 90s. It was identical looking cherry and red hot candies mixed together. I think the bag was yellow, one of the kind that hangs on a peg, around 7-12 oz. Any idea what that was?

    • jasonliebig says:

      Can you provide any more description? Was there a mascot or any kind of graphics on the packaging? Were the candies themselves individually wrapped? What kind of wrappers did those have, if they did?

      Was the point of the candy that you didn’t know whether you were getting the hot cinnamon or the sweet cherry flavor? It’s not the same thing, but Leaf put out a bubble gum in 1992 called “Busted” the point of which was that a few of the gumballs were “super-hot”, but still the same colors as the other fruit flavors. You can see that package here:

      If you can recall anymore details about what you’re thinking of, it will help to identify it. If it was a generic product, it will be incredibly hard to ID, though.

  4. Kevin says:

    Unfortunately I can’t remember many more details about the package itself, beyond being most likely yellow, with a window. It was definitely a “gotcha” sort of thing, where you wouldn’t know whether it was cherry or cinnamon, since all the candy was red and looked identical. The pieces weren’t individually wrapped, and I want to say they were about the size and shape of a Runts orange.

    I saw it at a K-Mart in Massachusetts, and it definitely wasn’t in one of those 3/$1 repackaged bags, so I’m assuming it wasn’t generic, but probably not a major manufacturer.

  5. rusVan says:

    Wow! neat!!!

  6. Zack says:

    Great find; I was beginning to think I’d never see what the box looked like. Unfortunately they quit making these at least 20 years ago. I can only speculate whether Nestle would reintroduce these now that they own the Wonka products.

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  9. Kevin says:

    Daredevils also came in a package of 3 with clear plastic packaging with the logo above on them, I remember these they were awesome, getting to the centre was always a feat of endurance!

  10. James Liberi says:

    My all time favorite candy with spectacular logo and packaging that I’ve never forgotten. I don’t want to admit how much I’d pay for a pack of these right now.

  11. Jason E Unger says:

    Was just searching for what I recall being a “better Atomic Fireball” after seeing their ad. At least they’re still around, but Daredevils were my childhood.

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