Collecting CurlyWurly

I’ve long been uncertain of how the name of this bar should be written.  Is it two separate words as in Curly Wurly, one word but with an oddly-placed capital like CurlyWulry, or is it simply a single name like Curlywurly?  While I still don’t know for sure, I do know I love this chocolate bar.

Cadbury introduced CurlyWurly in the United Kingdom in 1970.  It was a long flat braid of chocolate-covered caramel, and it was a hit.  Similar bars would soon appear from other confectioners – my childhood favorite Marathon bar among them.   So it was that childhood recollection of Marathon that first led me to the CurlyWurly as an adult.

The best news about CurlyWurly is that it is still produced and sold in the UK, Europe, and Australia.  If you’re in the US, and have ever gone hunting for a way to recapture your Marathon bar memories, you have inevitably been directed to the import of CurlyWurly bars.  If you’ve done so, you’ve likely been pleased you did.   They’re delicious.

All Those Wonderful Wrappers

The first CurlyWurly wrapper I encountered was the one that came on the import bars I ordered back in 2007 or 2008.   It was also the first CurlyWurly wrapper in my collection:

UK - Cadbury CurlyWurly wrapper - 2008

A year later I’d find my first vintage CurlyWurly wrapper.  It came to me when I acquired a vintage packaging collection dubbed “The Munktiki Collection”.   It was a good one and I believe it dates back to the first years of the brand:

UK - Cadbury's CurlyWurly wrapper - early 1970's

With that wrapper in hand, I had the humble beginnings of my vintage CurlyWurly collection in place.

CurlyWurly buttons or "badges" - the most common CurlyWurly item I encounter.

One of the coolest tie-ins done during the early years of CurlyWurly has to be the CreepyWurly Ghost Mobile mail-away.  I would eventually find both the wrapper and the awesome mobile itself:

Cadbury's Curly Wurly - CreepyWurly Ghost Mobile wrapper - 1973

As I’ve gotten to know British confectionery items of the 70’s, it’s clear they fed the kids’ love of monsters.

CreepyWurly mail-away Ghost Mobile - 1973

Another cool CurlyWurly piece in my collection is this five-pack outer wrapper that featured a mail-away for dinosaur cards.  I don’t know if the individual wrappers featured dinos on them as well – they might have and if they did, one day I hope to find one.

Cadbury's CurlyWurly - five bar multi-pack - prehistoric monster cards - 1970's

Not long after I started collecting CurlyWurlys, I learned of British actor Terry Scott who in the 1970’s was the brand’s mascot/spokesman.  His zany television commercials made quite the impression on English youths.  [I highly recommend seeking the commercials out on YouTube and the like.  They might seem a bit dated and odd at first – especially for non-UK viewers, but they’ve grown on me.  I find them quite delightful when I see them now.]

Curly Wurly magazine ad featuring Terry Scott -1974

When I’d first seen this ad, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be neat to find that wrapper?”

Cadbury's CurlyWurly - NEW - chocolate wrapper - 1974

Terry’s character did more than just commercials, he was also featured on the CurlyWurly wrappers themselves:

Cadbury's CurlyWurly T-shirt offer wrapper - with Terry Scott - 1970's

Cadbury's - CurlyWurly - Flip N' Fly offer - chocolate wrapper - 1976

For the Flip N’ Fly wrapper, I also received a set of that actual Flip n’ Fly mail-away premiums.

CurlyWurly Flip N' Fly flyers - 1976

Terry didn’t appear on every wrapper during this period, but even if he wasn’t on a wrapper for a promo, he often found his way onto related advertising.

Cadbury's - CurlyWurly - Bay City Rollers cards wrapper - 1975

CurlyWurly - double page ad from Record Mirror & Disc - January 24 1976

The Leo Burnett company helped launch and subsequently market the CurlyWurly with Cadbury, and beyond marketing to kids, they also targeted the parents that were buying.  Here’s an ad designed to do just that:

CurlyWurly magazine ad - targeting parents - later 70's or early 80's

Cadbury stretched the concept of CurlyWurly when they released this orange-flavored variety in 1997:

Curly Wurly Cool Orange - 15p chocolate bar wrapper - 1997

Along my collecting way, I’ve discovered that CurlyWurlys produced in other countries often feature fun and different designs.  The contemporary Australian CurlyWurly has its own unique wrapper:

Australia - Cadbury Curly Wurly wrapper - 2009

Cadbury-Australia also released a short-lived banana-flavor CurlyWurly sometime in the late 1990’s – though I don’t have a wrapper for that one.

Germany’s own contemporary wrapper for CurlyWurly still sports the brand’s original logo style:

German Cadbury CurlyWurly wrapper - 2009

Display boxes for the 2009 German CurlyWurly featured a pair of animal mascots that do not appear on the wrappers themselves:

German CurlyWurly display box panel with mascots - 2009

Using the same design as the UK at the time, this was New Zealand’s wrapper for their early 1990’s CurlyWurly launch:

New Zealand CurlyWurly wrapper - early 1990's

As a collector, I’ve enjoyed the variety of designs that CurlyWurlys have provided from their various international incarnations.  While on a trip to Paris just last fall, I convinced my girlfriend to take detour through a Monoprix store to look for candy and found this wonderful new French edition:

French CurlyWurly wrapper - November 2011

Circling back to CurlyWurly UK, there have been several major revisions and evolutions of the wrappers as well as countless on-pack promotions which I expect I’ll be finding for many years.  For a time in the UK there were also CurlyWurly Squirlies, small squiggles of caramel-covered-chocolate – but I’ve yet to find one of those packages.

Most unexpected in this collector’s journey are a variety of wrappers that have proved to be incredibly elusive – the CurlyWurlys produced for the United States market.

For a period in the 1970’s, CurlyWurly bars were actually packaged and sold by Cadbury’s US division.  I’ve never found an actual wrapper – but I do have this small image of one:

CurlyWurly - USA release wrapper - mid-1970's

Until recently, I’d assumed that was the only CurlyWurly style sold in the States, but just two months ago, I found this ad from a 1973 Chicago newspaper.  Based on the timing, one can speculate that Cadbury rushed CurlyWurlys into US markets to deal with the release of Mars’ Marathon bar (a similar bar which also launched in the US in 1973):

CurlyWurly newpaper advertisement - Chicago Tribune comic section - Oct 7, 1973

Though I don’t recall ever seeing these US CurlyWurlys in my youth, both are on the top of my long want-list.  Someday I hope to track these down and add them to my collection.  For now, I’ll have to keep looking.

That brings us to my CurlyWurly timeline.  I’ve included my own UK wrappers which range from the earliest sold, up to the current designs.  Unfortunately, where UK wrappers are concerned I am missing large gaps, mainly from the early 80’s through the mid 90’s.

I’ve also included the various international wrappers I own, or have images of.

CurlyWurly timeline by


Closing out today’s coverage of CurlyWurly are these fun stills from the UK’s acclaimed series “Life on Mars” (I’m a huge fan).  Seen here, the character Gene Hunt enjoys a CurlyWurly while using it to stir his tea.

The CurlyWurly wrapper seen in these shots is vintage (the chocolate is not).  During a 2009 interview, Phillip Glennister (Gene Hunt) was quoted:

“We’ve still got the wrapper, it’s possibly the most important prop in Life on Mars, and it’s found its way onto the set of the well.”

Gene Hunt - Sam Tyler - CurlyWurly - Life on Mars

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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16 Responses to Collecting CurlyWurly

  1. cybele says:

    Did I send you my 2010 French curlywurly wrappers? It was two packages – a bag of 5 regular sized bars.

  2. jasonliebig says:

    Cybele: Drat! I believe you did. I know they’re in my files somewhere, but may be a bit buried… will go hunting tonight.

  3. Glen says:

    Those Flip and Fly fliers look amazing like ones I remember as a kid (70’s – early 80s). Do you know if that design was used in cereal premiums as well?

  4. jasonliebig says:

    Glen: It sure was. Flip ‘n Flies were at least used in Ralston Freakies – and likely more. Here are the Freakies ones:

  5. Lazlo Nibble says:

    The proper form is “Curlywurly”. How do I know that? Well, take a closer look at the ad with the two kids in the big chair… 😉

    • jasonliebig says:

      That’s a good bit of deduction. Unfortunately that single ad is only one piece of reference. “Curly Wurly” with the space, is the form used in the previous print ad with Terry Scott. It’s also shown as two separate words or at least two capitalized words, on several wrappers – notably the USA released bars. Because of that, I’ve sort of take the in-between approach of CurlyWurly – no space, but two capital letters. Clearly they weren’t very consistent.

      It’s more fun to say it as a single word. When you do, it takes on a bit of Willy Wonka flare to it, I think.

  6. Pingback: Cadbury’s CurlyWurly Club Kit from 1982! |

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  8. matt bradford says:

    I don’t know if it’s of interest, I came upon this page while looking for images of the dinosaur cards. I had a collection as a kid, sadly no longer, I can tell you that you would collect a dinosaur cards upon paying 3p for your Curlywurly at the counter, in my local sweet shop the shopkeeper must have had a pile under his counter and would pick one at random and hand it over with your change. Still haven’t found any images of the cards but remember one was a Stegosaurus and I don’t think the individual packs had the dinosaur image on them, I seem to recall a poster in the shop advertising the promotion and something along the lines of ask the shopkeeper how to get the cards.

  9. NJw says:

    Would you please give the measurements of the original 70s British wrapper? It’s time for a definitive answer to whether CWs got smaller..

    • Jason Liebig says:


      You’re not going to get anything by measuring the size of the paper wrapper, as that’s not necessarily indicative of the contents. I can tell you that early UK Curly Wurly bar wrappers did not indicate a weight measurement on them, so that is also problematic as it leaves no indicator. BUT, I do have the wrapper of the Curly Wurly bar that Cadbury released in the USA in the early 1970’s, and that required an on-pack weight measurement which was, at the time, 1 ounce. Looking forward to 2010 (I don’t have a current CW wrapper handy), but that early 70’s 1 ounce equates to 28grams and in 2010, the UK Curly Wurly bar clocked in at 26 grams. So that shows a small decrease in weight. Not a ton at around 7% of the total, but something.

  10. Julia says:

    This is fascinating. Do you know by any chance the size of the CurlyWurly sold in the UK in 2006?

  11. Jen Hanson says:

    so just out of the blue what do the bay city rollers have to do with the curly wurly bar because I saw it when I was looking through my Pinterest wall and noticed it there so I was just wondering about it is all
    Jen Hanson

  12. Jay says:

    Do you want a 2022 wrapper?

  13. Mary says:

    I just bought one in Walmart, Canada that is imported from UK. The weight is now 21.5g. and of course they cost a lot more here in Canada sure to import taxes, I guess.

  14. Softy Nonowt says:

    Do you know anything about a Curly Wurly competition where they gave away 3 (I believe) round the world trips for 2? I think it was in the 1990’s when I visited a lady in Yorkshire and she invited me into her home because she thought I was the Curly Wurly man who had come to check the winning rapper! Before I could fully explain she had shown me a piece of paper saying she had won the prize and asked if she could have 4 trips to Spain instead as she had 2 children! I explained that I had called about something else and she should hide the paper somewhere safe! I often wondered how she got on.

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