Ode to Woolworth’s – The magical isle of my candy youth.

I grew up in Nebraska in the 1970’s, and in the town where I grew up, we had a Woolworth’s store.   Without a doubt it had the best selection of candy and gum in town and because of that, I have powerfully good memories about the place.  The Woolworth’s store of my youth is the very one pictured in the postcard title image today.

Like all Woolworth’s, it’s long-gone, but the memories remain, so today I’m dedicating my post to this early retail giant that has passed on, and my memories of it.

[The Tooley’s store also seen on that postcard is still there.  Like Woolworth’s they had a soda fountain, and it’s still there, though modernized.  I sat down for a great lunch at Tooley’s over the Christmas holiday.]

Regular readers of CollectingCandy.com will recognize my fondness for the store – I mention it quite often.  On the old main street of my hometown, the candy isle was glorious, offering all of the novelty candy and gum available.  So many of the items I write about and research, I was first exposed to at this Woolworth’s.   They also had a great luncheonette.

One of my last visits to a Woolworth’s location was in New York City during the late 1990’s, and if I recall, it was with a group of my fellow Marvel Comics editors at the time – attending October Burger-fest at the luncheonette there.   I didn’t realize it at the time, but it would my last visit to a Woolworth’s.  I’m glad it was a memorable one.

I have searched high-and-low for photos of a 1970’s Woolworth’s candy isle, to capture my experiences there.  I could not find any, but I have a few photos of store shelves from the era that convey a bit of that feeling.

1974 retail candy shelves B&W

1974 retail candy shelves

Candy shelves image from 1974 Topps Annual Report

Listing the candy that I first found at my Woolworth’s is not an easy task, but off the top of my head I recall buying Bottle Caps there, Fleer’s Mr. Bones and Fireplug candy, Donruss Bitty Bombs, Razzles, and so much more.

Because I’m a collector-nerd, and because collectors dream big, I’ll occasionally find myself in a dream, back at that childhood Woolworth’s location.  It is somehow intact, and I am there looking over the candy shelves again.   It’s quite silly, but I do have silly dreams some nights.

Perhaps it’s best that Woolworth’s all went away when they did.  If they’d found a way to survive I imagine that today they’d be nothing more than mirror images of Walgreens and similar stores.   For me, they are frozen in time, just the way I remember them.

I have one last image to share, which was the impetus of today’s article.  It’s a Woolworth’s store-brand candy bag.   I imagine these would have been used for locations that sold penny candies out of bins – something I don’t recall my Woolworth’s doing, but I may have been too busy looking at the Garbage Can-dy to notice.

Woolworth's - cellophane candy bag - old stock - 1970's

That’s everything for today.   Stop in this weekend for more candy fun, and on Monday I am working on a large feature, and super-cool timeline.  You won’t want to miss it!


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 TheActionRoom.com. My Google Profile+
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5 Responses to Ode to Woolworth’s – The magical isle of my candy youth.

  1. I’m glad I’m not the only collector to have dreams like that. Sometimes I’m in a Bradlee’s discovering a mint case of 1978 Star Wars figures that had been lost in the back room for decades…nevermind the fact that the store isn’t around anymore!

    We had a Woolworth’s in my hometown but I don’t remember much about it. There was a variety store about a 5 minute walk down the street which was pretty much my childhood gateway to the world for candy, comics and eventually video games.

    Their candy section was like a microcosm of what you describe Woolworth’s to be like with candy bars, gum, novelty candies, trading cards and a bottom shelf that was assorted penny candy with little brown paper bags to make your own mix.

  2. Tom says:

    We didn’t have a Woolworth’s nearby, although we visited one every Christmas for cheap gifts and a turkey dinner at the diner. My candy needs were met by a Ben Franklin’s store. I may have recounted it here already, but I received a dollar allowance which allowed me to buy 2 comics from the Rexall Drugstore at 30 cents a piece leaving 40 cents to buy a 20 candy bar and some 15 cent item which may have been gum or a York peppermint patty.

    My candy bar purchases were typically the latest new candy bar release. I was an adventurer! That’s how I discovered the Marathon bar. Biggest bang for your buck…er 20 cents. Other “discoveries” of mine were the $100,000 (not “GRAND”!) bar, the Skor bar (it was promoted with Vikings? in the ads and I was into Dungeons & Dragons, so a natural fit for this nerd), the Reggie candy bar and the Whatchamacallit to name just a few. Ben Franklins was also the source for my collector cards. I was never into sports, but I didn’t collect a few movie cards and Marvel Comics cards/stickers.

    I’ve often thought that in Heaven, I’ll be allowed to stroll those aisles once again on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

  3. Matt says:

    Jason, in case you don’t remember it, I worked at this very Woolworth’s store from the time I was 16 until 18. When you were buying your candy there, it was likely my brother, Tom working there. Had the chance to look through your collection at Jeff’s yesterday. I can’t believe you’re still acquiring so many great old candy packages.

  4. rusVan says:

    It’s great to see Snappy Gators in situ!

  5. Pingback: Woolworth’s Branded Chocolate Bars from Canada! | CollectingCandy.com

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