The Accident That Inspired The Milk Duds Name

As virtually every milk-spilling child knows, via their oh-so-patient parents, accidents happen. No use crying over them, best to clean up the mess, and move on. Not every mistake is meant for the trash bin, however. From plastic to Post-its to penicillin, per Inc., the world is a much better place thanks to some major mishaps and malfunctions. So are movie theaters, as they are inexorably linked to the gooey candy that takes forever to eat and is as much a part of the big screen experience as popcorn, the chocolate covered caramels we all know as Milk Duds.

These bite-sized tidbits of yumminess have been a part of the movie theatre experience since the depression, when out-of-work men would opt to spend the afternoon at the movie house, and invest the nickel that a box of Milk Duds cost then, as the sticky slow-to-eat candies would help get them through the day. Though we now associate them with the theater, in 1971 they were named the Official Candy of the Major League Baseball Players Association, and the boxes sported pictures of the famous players of the day.

The chocolate-making equipment of that time posed a problem

Though the candy itself wasn't a mistake, the shape of it was. According to Mentalfloss, the F. Hoffman & Company confection business set out to make perfectly-shaped, circular caramels covered in chocolate in 1926. Unfortunately, the equipment of the day wasn't quite capable enough to go along with the candy maker's vision, instead producing misshapen morsels that a worker labeled "duds." Despite their non-conforming shapes, everyone agreed that they were indeed quite tasty, so the company kept making them.

During the height of the Chicago candy boom of the 1920's, Edwin Holloway, with the help of a $1,200 investment from dear old dad, bought the F. Hoffman candy company, and embarked on a candy making-career. One of his first feats was to bring the little chocolate duds to the masses. The name stuck, and, via Hershey's, who now produces the candy, this never-perfectly-round shape still marks the Milk Duds we know and love today. And apparently some people still consider them duds: Despite the fact that over 9,000 pounds of them are sold at Halloween, the candy is apparently the worst chocolate candy that trick-or-treaters receive. Quite sad that the small sticky staple that sated a generation of America's down-in-the-dumps workers is relegated to the not trade-worthy pile of treats on candy's biggest night, isn't it? Perhaps if it was more perfectly shaped, and not the product of a mistake, it would not be considered a Halloween dud.