Today’s piece is a short tale of finding a collectible “Holy Grail” and how much fun it can be to track down something you thought you might never see.
I initially learned about the Big League Plug chocolate candy bar while doing research for my Big League Chew Retrospective piece.
The bar was first mentioned to me by Rob Nelson, the creator of Big League Chew, when I asked if there had ever been any confectionery spin-offs of his brand. He explained that, “There was a chocolate bar they tried, called Big League Plug…”
I had never heard of Big League Plug, and certainly didn’t recall ever seeing it in my youth, so I was immediately intrigued. I scoured the internet but found no mentions or images of this mythical product. Did it actually exist? Did Rob remember the name wrong? Was it only a test-marketed item?
I would eventually track down the promotional flyer image for Big League Plug which I included in the retrospective (the same image serves as today’s title image), but it would remain the only hard evidence that Big League Plug ever existed, until two months ago.
It was when I acquired the incredible L.M. Kallok confectionery collection (a huge collection of vintage candy wrappers, boxes, and related ephemera) that I found this near-mythical piece of Big League Chew history. Within that extensive collection was a piece I never expected to find; an actual Big League Plug foil pouch! And to my amazement, the look of the production packaging had changed from that shown on those earlier promotional flyers. Here it is:
As you can see, it features a modified appearance from the standard Big League Chew bubble gum pouches while still retaining that unmistakable Big League Chew look. To say that I was thrilled to find this and add it to my collection is an understatement. I was, and am, over the moon.
Big League Plug was an experiment from 1982, early in the life of the Big League Chew brand, and it was short-lived. What Amurol-Wrigley would eventually come to understand was something that Rob Nelson felt strongly about all along – Big League Chew was a special formula that wasn’t to be messed with, and you couldn’t graft its success onto a chocolate bar.
So while the experiment failed, it created an oddball bit of spin-off packaging that had become a collector’s holy grail for me, but one I can now place in the “got-it” column. And that’s pretty neat.
Is the Big League Chocolate Plug still available?
No, sadly this was just a short-lived item. Likely lasted through 1982-1983 and was gone.
I had one of these once. It tasted like a Tootsie Roll with a bit more of a fudgey flavor. They were really good. Two weeks after I bought one, I went back to the same store I bought the other one at, and they no longer carried them.
They weren’t around long at all.
Hahahahahahahaha~ Mythical is not far from the truth! My brother and I loved this in our youth. I’ve only recently found one other person that even remembers it. I remember it being like the waxy, cheap chocolate some people would try to pass off as real chocolate. However, in this case, waxy chocolate is what made Big League Plug what it was. Bite off a chunk, and it melted sloooooowly. Wow. Thanks for bringing back some good memories!
good stuff! I had this once as a kid and remember it vividly. However, no one mentioned what I thought was the whole point of the product. That was you put a chunk in the side of your mouth and it was almost like real tobacco in that you could spit nasty brown stuff just like your big league heroes! I always thought that there was some sort of backlash that led to it being yanked from the shelves.
Finally found the name and packaging of the chocolate chew in a pouch that I loved as a kid. I remember only buying a few times but LOVED it. I’ve been looking for it for years. Big League should look at bringing it back for sure. I played tee ball and loved chocolate and thought it was funny to be spitting brown from the chocolate like the big league boys. It would be a great alternative to chewing tobacco. Yes your teeth may fall out from all the sugar eventually but having false teeth is much better than mouth or throat cancer. Love the candy! Bring it back!
I was looking for something shiny for an art project and was driving through Naperville, IL when along a side road I saw some shiny material. At the end of the road was the the Greene Valley landfill. I walked about 100 feet down the road when what should I spot but an entire factory roll of Big League plug wrappers. It probably weighed 25-30 pounds. Apparently it had fallen off a garbage truck on the way to the landfill and it was on the side of the road as if a truck from the Amurol plant not too far away had lost the roll. I struck gold.
I didn’t know what to do with the roll but I took it anyways. I used the shiny material for the project but still had an entire roll. So naturally I brought it to college and it became our floor mascot. We would go over to the women’s dormitories and carry the plug roll. I’d be dressed in a nice shirt and tie and running shorts while doing this. I would dance around and chant and we would “plug” the women’s rooms by placing a length of B.L.P. wrappers over their doorways to protect them from evil. I was in dormitory hall council and there was a small rebel faction that didn’t always go along with what the rest wanted to do and we became known as the Big League Plug Coalition. I miss Joe, Dave, Steve, and Stephanie.
Most floors had shirts made and we were no exception. We had B.L.P. on our shirts and it said, “Get Plugged on 11” (we were on the 11th floor) as well as our nicknames on the back. Hey, I still have the shirt and if you like I’ll send you a picture. Let me know and I’ll send it. We kept the plug at school for a several years and it followed me around for years and it finally disappeared when I went on a multi-year trip around the world and had some stuff stored at a friend’s house. He doesn’t remember seeing it but his wife probably said, “What is this garbage?” and tossed it. But I had the plug for 20 years before it went AWOL. I didn’t know what to do with it over the years but I couldn’t just get rid of it. I had it for 20 years after all!
I took the roll to a machine shop and had it measured for thickness with a micrometer. Based on the inner and outer diameters of the roll, calculated how long it was using a mathematical forumla I figured out. The roll was over 3/4 of a mile long and had approximately 13,000 labels if memory serves correctly. So, that is my years-long, heartwarming Big League Plug love story.
P.S. We never did see Plug in our local stores, so never got to try it.
I’ll never forget the day I bought this in the Minute Mart on the corner of West Lynn & West 10th Street in Austin, Texas. I felt betrayed, as it was not a Chocolate Big League Chew experience. It was a big Tootsie Roll brick!
i found a pouch of this stuff at a liquidating /close-out store in ashley, pa when i was a kid. it was like a square tootsie roll. i only had it once and never saw it again. must people never heard of it.
My god. For my entire adult life I’ve been searching for some remnant that chocolate big league chew existed. I knew I remembered it. But no one else did. I could find nothing on the subject. I was beginning to doing it was real. Now I have found proof. And while not quite what I remembered this made my day. I remembered it as actually chocolate big league chewing gum. But I was like 4. So close enough right.
I was 11, and I remember it as shredded tootsie roll.
I never knew this existed. To be honest, I remember Big League Chew not just because of the distinct packaging; it was also the TV advertising campaign. Who can forget “You’re in the big leagues when you’re into Big League Chew” TV commercials (which are also up on YouTube)? Maybe Big League Plug would have succeeded with more advertising.
I remember this very well. I had bought it several times. It was like a big square tootsie roll. I love finding things from my childhood.
I remember this very well. It was like a big square tootsie roll. I love finding things from my childhood.
I remember it. I actually liked it as a kid. It was somewhat like a chocolate nougat/ fudgy consistency. And when ya spit like the ball players it looked like tobacco spit. Lol.