Stale Old Candy – It’s Not Trash – It’s Treasure!

I am a vintage candy packaging collector, but beyond that, I’ve also long been buying and collecting current candy packaging, too.  It’s all a part of putting the older pieces into historical perspective.  In five years all of the stuff I buy today will be vintage, so buying it now is saving me time of tracking it down later on.  Believe me, in my mind – it makes sense.

Sometimes, while scanning over a candy rack, you spot something a bit older, right at retail.  That is to say, you can sometimes find older candy at an out-of-the-way store, candy that’s been passed over again and again, for a few years.  Or perhaps a box that was put out late, after being misplaced in the back room.  I’ve had some luck in smaller New York stores and delis, finding candy that was a few years old.

Yesterday, I topped them all when I walked into a local deli, looking for a Munch bar, when I spotted what appeared to be Wonka Shock Tarts from a few years ago.   I bought them immediately, figuring they were, at most, five years old.  Turned out, they were a wee bit older…

Wonka Shock Tarts - these look old...

I should point out that I found these Shock Tarts mixed in a display box of Wonka Shockers, which is what Shock Tarts were renamed to, about three years ago.  There was no date on the wrappers to tell me just how old they were, but I e-mailed my buddy (and fellow collector) Brandon Coker, who knew how to decipher what this printed code meant:

Wonka Shock Tarts Date Code

It turns out that the first number is the last number of the year, so either these were from 2011, or 2001…  I inquired with a person at the Wonka factory I know, who confirmed what Brandon believed – these Shock Tarts rolls were from 2001.   They were eleven-years old!  I’ve never found candy on shelves that was this old, and frankly I’m still a bit “shocked” that I did (sorry, had to be done).

Here’s a nice scan of the wrapper unrolled, and how it will be joining my collection:

Nestle - Wonka - Shock Tarts - 3 for 99-cents - foil candy roll wrapper - 2001

So for any of my readers out there – the moral is this:  If you see something in an out-of-the-way store that looks a bit old, think of your pal here at  What you see may be trash to most folks, but to me it’s an important confectionery-historical treasure.

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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5 Responses to Stale Old Candy – It’s Not Trash – It’s Treasure!

  1. Brandon says:

    There are little nuggets like these still sitting on dusty store shelves. It’s a treat to find them, too — especially ones this old.

  2. Dennis says:

    I have found myself saving various packaging for a few different items (especially candy) in the past few years. trying to “build” up on a small collection that will hopefully be pretty neat to look back on one day.
    The sad thing is a response I made to one of your Flickr posts awhile back on how I threw a bunch of stuff away back in the early-mid 90’s (all candy related). I was in my late teens/very early 20’s and thought I just a had a weird collection, that no one else had. What a shock seeing collections such as yours many years later. I still have a few things here and there going back 20 years ago, but not nearly what I had saved from about 80-88.

  3. Bryan says:

    I have still seen these Shock Tarts on the shelves in a few candy stores here in Brooklyn, NY. A few months ago, I bought them and I tried to eat one lol. They’re all black and looked rotten and stale. I got my $1 back from the store (because I bought 3). Then I went walking along Fort Hamilton Parkway the other day and I saw them again at this candy store lol. Guess some stores don’t believe in Expiration Dates! lol. P.S. I would be impressed if you found some of the small wrapper Shock Tarts that they used to sell when I was a kid.

  4. Jeremy says:

    The exact date those shock tarts were made is May/01/2001
    I’m in charge of rotating the candy for a retail store and to save time I made an android app the converts these secret dates. You type in the 2 3 or 4 digit code and it spits out a readable date. It doesn’t take in to account for candy over 10 years old so the code 1121 would convert to may/01/2011 instead of the actual date May/01/2001. Sorry to say that I only deal with stale M&Ms or Three Musketeers but if I come across anything cool I will keep you in mind.
    The app is free on the Google play store just search Eastwestmain or Code Date Converter
    Thanks Great blog

  5. Tim Forrest says:

    Be sure to connect with my friend David Klein, he has some great info and will be bringing stale candy to market soon.


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