For the final day of Cinnamon Hot Week, I wanted to dig deep into a brand that has always been a favorite of mine, Just Born’s Hot Tamales!
This will be the final post in our week-long coverage of all things “hot” and it’s also going to be the biggest post of the week – with over 50 different Hot Tamales packages presented. Whew!
I first looked at Hot Tamales with a short retrospective and timeline during the first few days of this site, but since then I’ve discovered a lot of new things about the brand’s history, and a few new things have developed as well that I’d like to cover.
According to the Just Born website, Hot Tamales were introduced to the market in 1950. Without that piece of information, my best guess would have been that these were an early 60’s creation as Just Born first filed for the trademark on Hot Tamales in 1962. By that time, Hot Tamales boxes already featured their famous mascot, the Hot Tamales Kid.
Earlier this year I was thrilled to add an early 1960’s box to my collection and it differentiates itself from later boxes in that the “flavor” part of the description is printed in green. It is as close to a “rookie box” for Hot Tamales as I’ve ever come across:
By 1968, the box design would change and the green text would be dropped, as seen in this candy trade advertisement:
In the later 1960’s, a 15-cent long box would be introduced. This “long box” style is the one I most identify with the Hot Tamales from my childhood.
In 1971 Just Born launched a popular promotion that would run at least through 1974, with their Hot Tamales Kid plush mail-away offer.
As I said, this promotion would last at least into 1974 as seen in this consumer magazine advertisement:
I’m fortunate to have a box featuring this promotion. It’s one of the first pieces I added to my collection and remains a favorite of mine due to the promotion’s inclusion. [Note: A fun bit of trivia is that this box was originally found underneath the floorboards of a closed-down movie theater.]
I also have the premium from the promotion – here’s a photo of my Hot Tamales Kid:
By 1976, the Hot Tamales box design still looked much as it did in the early 1960’s, though the “cinnamon” in the title was now emphasized and the “artificially flavored” was added as well:
1977 was notable for Hot Tamales packages and marketing as they would introduce a large (at the time) 9-ounce size box that year:
Beyond being sold in boxes, Just Born also marketed Hot Tamales to the vending trade. Here’s a super-cool vending machine insert card for the brand [Note: You can read all about Just Born’s vending machine insert cards here.]:
Something that I consider a “sort-of” spin-off of Hot Tamales was introduced in 1979 in the form of Just Born’s Cinnamon Apple – seen in this trade ad [Note: I first wrote about my discovery of these last year.]
In 1979, Just Born gave their packaging lineup a refresh, eliminating tabbed boxes and introducing a diagonal logo look:
The diagonal logo style box was featured in this set of scratch-n-sniff stickers from Hallmark in 1980:
This style of Hot Tamales box design would carry through to 1986, before it was discontinued. By then, the 2.12 box size had been established, a size which became the standard for the next two decades.
The following year in 1987, Just Born gave their line it’s biggest redesign in the history of the company. They announced the change to the trade with the following ad:
Here’s an example of the first Hot Tamales box to feature the 1987 design:
As the Just Born line expanded, the backs of Hot Tamales boxes reflected the changes:
And in the mid-1990’s, boxes added mandatory nutrition labeling:
The early 1990’s brought the first official Hot Tamales spin-off I know of in the form of Super Hot Tamales, which were first released in 1993:
Here’s a trade ad promoting Super Hot Tamales. I have vivid memories of when these were new and excitedly trying them – I was a big fan of Hot Tamales then, too.
Two fun promotions that I know of ran on Hot Tamales boxes in the 1990’s:
I chuckle every time I see that Spider-Man box, as this was during my years working as an editor at Marvel Comics. I had friends in creative services and licensing and I remember seeing art and other materials for this promotion around their offices. At the time I wasn’t paying much attention to candy, though.
The next piece I have to share was a giant discovery for me earlier this year, and though I don’t have a box example in my collection, I was thrilled to get the following image from the US Trademark Office archives. This is for a product Just Born released briefly in the late 1990’s called Hot Tamales Jr’s.
Not just Hot Tamales sold in a smaller box, these were actually half-height Hot Tamales candies. I would love to add one of these boxes to my collection!
Right around the year 2000, Just Born would once again give their Hot Tamales packages a design refresh:
Super Hot Tamales also got a facelift, with an appearance perhaps a little more inline with the standard box:
Just Born’s marketing to the vending trade continued throughout the years and I have a vending insert card from this era as well:
The early 2000’s marked Just Born’s partnering up with Nascar and the team of Kerry Earnhardt. Just Born celebrated the partnership with at least two different special Hot Tamales candy boxes:
In 2005-2006, the next major redesign of Just Born’s product line was introduced with Hot Tamales getting their new fireball mascot. Another major change for the line was the retirement of the 2.12 ounce cardboard box in favor of a 2.12 ounce plastic package:
Over the course of the next few years, the plastic packaged Hot Tamales would receive subtle updates while still retaining that 2.12 oz pack size standard:
One of my favorite promos from this era is also represented by one of the very first contemporary candy packages I ever saved – this 2006 Hold’em pack:
In 2006, Super Hot Tamales would be reintroduced and rebranded under the new name Hot Tamales Fire:
Hot Tamales Fire packs soon dropped the “New!” indications:
Quick on the heels of the Just Born line wide redesign, 2007 saw the release a dramatic spin-off for Hot Tamales; Hot Tamales Ice:
While Hot Tamales Ice was a bold departure for the brand, it unfortunately didn’t catch on.
2007 Hot Tamales boxes featured a “Spring Break Trip” promotion:
The Hot Tamales brand had been successful enough during this time to warrant it getting licensed for a scratch-off lottery game. I picked up these during a trip back to Nebraska in 2007:
In 2008 I first encountered a Valentine’s holiday edition box for Hot Tamales (though I believe they’d done some of these in the past):
A few years later, they’d release a full-sized box version of Hot Tamales for Valentine’s Day entitled “Untamed Love Mix”:
Jumping back to 2009, Just Born expanded the Hot Tamales brand into jelly beans, with a somewhat expected cinnamon variety as well as an unusual black licorice flavor:
That same year, Ford Gum became a licensee of Just Born and produced Hot Tamales sugarless gum:
A year later the brand would even get the cotton candy treatment:
As the brand was expanding its licensing reach, Just Born was also trying new things in house. 2009 saw the release of retro-themed boxes for both Hot Tamales and Mike and Ike. Here’s what the Hot Tamales box looked like:
Retailers also received a Christmas Holiday edition of the standard-sized 6 oz Hot Tamales box in 2009:
This box design would return in subsequent years, though by 2012 the standard theater size had dropped from six ounces to five:
During a trip to Canada in 2010, I was delighted to find a Canadian edition of the standard Hot Tamales box, complete with bilingual packaging. A fun addition to my collection:
That box matched up well with the version that was on shelves back home the following year:
A new era and new box design was coming for Hot Tamales, but the solid red box would get one final groovy promotion before retiring – here is a box from 2011 featuring the Just Born Sweets & Beats promo:
Though 2012 would usher in a new look for Hot Tamales boxes, I found an unusual offering in an unexpected place that year: A special theater box only available at movie theater chains:
Before getting the new design Hot Tamales boxes in 2012, however, 2011 gave us what I came to decide was the replacement for the now-discontinued Hot Tamales Fire – Hot Tamales 3 Alarm. More than just a renamed and re-branded Hot Tamales Fire, this was something a bit different – a box with three levels of hot cinnamon candies:
Hot Tamales 3 Alarm were released in the last few months of the 6 ounce box size standard. By 2012, that was reduced to 5 ounce and so was Hot Tamales 3 Alarm:
Hot Tamales 3 Alarm was the first time that I noticed a reduction from 2.12 ounces on the standard plastic packs to 1.8 ounces:
I even picked a 25-cent box size for 3 Alarm – I think the Just Born 25-cent box sizes are pretty neat:
2012 might be best known in the Just Born world as the year that Mike and Ike were breaking up their team, but it was also a pretty big year for Hot Tamales, as the brand received major makeover. Though they retained their fireball mascot, boxes became much flashier – with swirling graphic flames replacing the flat red background of the boxes that preceded them:
With a new box design on store shelves, I was quick to try to grab an example of each major size:
I even found one of the “Big Box” versions of the new box design:
It’s worth noting that “The Big Box” size for 2013 is a reduced 8.3 ounces, down from 9.5 in 2007 (the only other “Big Box” I have in my collection.)
So that pretty much brings us up to speed and what’s currently on shelves right now for Hot Tamales.
But I do have one last Hot Tamales treat to share, and it’s a pretty cool one.
Currently, there’s a Hot Tamales brand extension that’s out though it’s not easy to find. For the moment these are only available at Albertons and H-E-B stores, or via the Just Born online store – take a look at a package for Hot Tamales Tropical Heat!
With flavors like Limon Fever, Mango Tango and Pineapple Picante, Tropical Heat might be the most unusual Hot Tamales spinoff ever!
And that’s it – all 50 Hot Tamales packages in one very long post.
I hope you all enjoyed today’s entry and the wrap up to our CollectingCandy.com Cinnamon Hot Week.
In a day or two, we’ll be starting our month-long CountdownToHalloween. I hope you can drop by and keep up with all we’ll be covering.
See you next time!
This post was a part of CollectingCandy.com’s Cinnamon Hot Week!
Bravo Mr. Liebig! My favorite post so far. I wonder why they didn’t hire Paris Hilton and her “That’s hot” catch-phrase. I love the fire-puking sun on the Super Hot Tamales package.
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Great article, stumbled upon this when I saw a Hot Tamales package recently and I swore it had changed! I didn’t even know there was a world of candy-collecting hobbyists. Thanks for sharing!