Saturday, February 17, 2018

Theater Candy Counter, 1951

Today I have a fun vintage photo for you, scanned from an old Kodachrome slide; it's a great picture of the candy counter in an unidentified movie theater... maybe this was the girl's first job, and Dad wanted to record this moment for posterity.

The photo was undated, but of course the banner with the movie title "Bird of Paradise" allowed me to date it to 1951. The movie starred Debra Paget and Louis Jourdan; here is the IMDB description:
Andre Laurence (Jourdan) takes a trip to a Polynesian island with his college roommate Tenga (Chandler). He assumes the native life and marries his friend's sister, Kalua (Paget). The island's volcano erupts and the Kahuna, the island's shaman (Maurice Schwartz), decides that the volcano god can only be appeased by the human sacrifice of Kalua to its molten depths. Following her death, Andre says his goodbye to Tenga and returns to civilization.

Presumably the faux palm  trees (complete with birds and monkeys) had been added just for this auspicious occasion.

Just look at all that candy! How many can we identify?

I see many kinds of gum - Wrigley's Spearmint, Doublemint, and JuicyFruit; Adams Clove and Blackjack flavors; Chiclets and Dentyne. How about some Life Savers (multiple flavors), Charms candies, Tootsie Rolls, Juicelets,  or Jujyfruits? There are plenty of familiar candy bars too; Nestle's Crunch, Butterfinger, Baby Ruth, Clark Bars, Hershey's , Mr. Goodbar, and 5th Avenue.

Are you tempted by a candy apple wrapped in colorful (and sanitary) cellophane? Or peanuts, or popcorn with creamery butter? 

There are other candies that I couldn't ID, maybe you can! I'm looking for: Milk Duds; Good and Plenty; Raisinettes; Sugar Daddies, Sugar Babies, Black Cows, Slo-Pokes; Red Hots; Chuckles; Mounds, Almond Joy, Snickers, Charleston Chew, Oh Henry!; Mike and Ikes; Smarties; Necco Wafers; Turkish Tafffy; Zagnut and Abba Zabba; Sno-Caps; Jujubes; Junior Mints; and many, many more!

I hope you enjoyed this photo! Go eat some candy for breakfast.


K. Martinez said...

Hot Tamales and Milk Duds were always my favorite theater candy as a kid. Jujyfruits were another favorite as I liked to chew on them until they stuck on my upper and lower teeth locking my jaw. Thanks, Major.

Here's the full movie "Bird of Paradise" (1951) for anyone interested.

Nanook said...


And I was all set to "Visit our Pepsi-Cola Bar across the foyer". Drat, we can't do that-! I guess we'll just have to be satisfied in knowing our popcorn comes... "with a Generous helping of creamery butter". Ummmm. No nasty "butter flavor", "golden topping", or butter oil (actually worse than butter) - all now used as butter substitutes. You did an excellent job naming just about all the food products that one can identify, with the exception of the Circus Peanuts and Beech-Nut Gum. (I wonder what the mini-dispenser machine like item is, that's sitting there along the back counter). Perhaps for cigarettes-?? Seems so dinky for those times - but from what I can make out, that does seem to be what appears across the top panel of it.

It would seem the snack bar 'theming' was a tie-in for the Bird of Paradise screening. Boy - those were the days. Back then, Boxoffice Magazine used to have a section called Showmandiser - featuring all the wonderful gimmicks Mr. Theatre Manager and his staff would often do to entice patrons to their theatre. This would certainly qualify as one of those 'stunts'.

I see that Bird of Paradise played for a two-week run at Grauman's Chinese Theatre beginning on March 23, 1951. It also played day-and-date at multiple Los Angeles theatres including the Beverly Theatre, Village Theatre, El Portal Theatre, La Reina Theatre, among many others. Also running at the Grauman's screening was Rabbit of Seville for all you Bugs Bunny/Chuck Jones fans out there.

Thanks, Major, for this wonderful trip to the snack bar - and without having to wait in line-!

TokyoMagic! said...

Uh, I'll take a box of raisins from the Sun Maid Raisins display on the far left. Yeah, right. If I wanted something "healthy," I wouldn't be visiting the candy counter. I'm surprised they sold packs of gum. At some point, didn't movie theaters stop selling gum for the same reason that Disneyland doesn't sell gum? And I didn't know that Dolly Madison ever made ice cream!

TokyoMagic! said...

By the way, are the candy clerk's pants super high-waisted, or is she just wearing a big black crushy belt?

Patrick Devlin said...

My favorite go-to snack doesn't appear to be represented: Those wonderful ice cream Bon-Bons in the lavender or purplish packaging. I really liked those but didn't always have the money for them. We often saved money by visiting, just before entering the theater, the Sav-On drugstore just across the street from the Fox theater on B street, downtown San Diego.

I think TM! those are pants, all the way up. Thanks for the good time, Major.

Melissa said...

Oh, boy! Refreshments! From the glimpse of marble wall and gold painted column, I'm guessing this is the local movie “palace!” The Sun-Maid raisin logo hasn't changed at all! Ice cream bars with chopped almonds instead of peanuts?! Yes, please! I've got such a sugar rush, I can’t use fewer than one exclamation point per sentence!! And lookit her little lamé and velvet uniform! I hope the customers behaved themselves!

The movie palace we went to in high school was so small, the popcorn was almost always fresh, with real butter! Modern Cineplex corn tastes like packing peanuts in comparison!

DrGoat said...

Just to the right of Clove gum. Blackjack, my favorite as a kid. I think I was the only one that liked it. There was Dentyne too, on the opposite end from the Blackjack. The Beemans must be behind that lovely Palm tree.

Major Pepperidge said...

K. Martinez, I did like Milk Duds, but I don’t remember ever having them at the movie theater. As a rule I don’t really eat or drink stuff during movies, not even popcorn! Probably because I often have plans to go out and eat right afterwards.

Nanook, I had the feeling this one would be of interest to you! I sure do wish I knew where this photo was taken - there’s not much to go by, unfortunately. That “Fontainbleu” light fixture rules out Grauman’s Chinese, though! Circus Peanuts? Never heard of ‘em. Beech-Nut Gum, I should have gotten that one. “Rabbit of Seville”, what a classic! “Bird of Paradise”, not so much. I love that “Maurice Schwartz” (an actor who worked with Chaplin, and even Leonard Nimoy) played the island shaman, while Jeff Chandler played a character named “Tenga”.

TokyoMagic!, don’t you know that raisins are “nature’s candy”? Do you hate nature? DO YOU?? Yes, gum is just a bad idea, people are slobs and don’t dispose of it properly. I’ll never forget having to tie my shoe on Main Street, and managing to kneel right where somebody had dropped their gum. So gross!

TokyoMagic!, I can’t tell if she is wearing a wide sash, or if it really is a case of high-waisted pants.

Patrick Devlin, I don’t know if I’ve ever actually seen ice cream bon-bons at a cinema. They seemed like the stuff of legend! As a kid I certainly would have loved those, but - my parents would have never bought them, either.

Melissa, yeah, I like peanuts just fine, but give me almonds any day. I’ll bet the Sun-Maid raisin logo has been updated, probably for the worse. Maybe it’s been simplified, or computerized, or some other nonsense. See what they’ve done to the Chicken of the Sea mermaid and weep!

DrGoat, add licorice to the flavors I am not crazy about…! Seems like everyone I know likes it but me. Guess I am a fussy eater?

Chuck said...

I love the mirrored tiles on either side of the Bird of Paradise sign.

Major, as a kid, I was the exact opposite - the only time I was ever allowed to get Milk Duds was at the movie theater.

Melissa, I'm curious how you know what packing peanuts taste like.

Melissa said...

It was a slow day at the office and a co-worker dared me. The biodegradable ones are made from corn, and the texture is not unlike a puffed Cheetoh that's gone stale.

Nanook said...


I'm not the biggest fan of licorice, either. but I do like Good and Plenty. Ice cream bon bons - oh YES-! Definitely a "real treat" at the cinema - and I think it's the only place I've ever eaten them - in that purplish box, about 1-½" square - packed 4 or 5 to the box - just as Patrick correctly remembered.

I've definitely had Milk Duds at movie theatres. In fact, my brain is so strange in what it chooses to remember - I can even remember asking my aunt to grab a box of Milk Duds for me when she went to the snack bar. The theatre and the movie, you ask - why that would be the Four Star on Wilshire Blvd - and the movie: Gigi - which would make the date 1958. Frightening-!

K. Martinez said...

Patrick Devlin and Nanook, I remember those ice cream bon bons in the packaging you guys described. Those were really good, but were a rare special treat due to the cost.

And yes, I do like Good and Plenty as a theater candy too, Nanook.

TokyoMagic! said...

Patrick, I also remember those ice cream bon bons. They were the most expensive thing at our theater's snack bar. I would always want them, but I would forget how hard they would be when you got them and you'd have to have the patience to let them thaw out a bit. When my grandmother would take us to the movies, we would also go to Sav-On Drugstore for candy bars! Back then, candy bars were only .20 cents each! My grandmother would carry them into the theater in her purse and then pass them out to us before the movie began. I remember that she always liked U-NO Bars. I miss those days!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, Shirley Feeney also used to say that raisins were, "nature's candy." Or maybe she said that about grapes? Anyway, I love nature and you know that I'm a big ol' tree hugger. I just never wanted anything "natural" when I went to the movies. Now as an adult, I don't eat or drink anything at the movies either. I'm not sure what changed with me, but that's just how I roll now. And I also don't like licorice! I remember the gum ball machines at the grocery stores would only have one or two black/licorice gum balls visible in the whole thing, but I would still get them on occasion. They would immediately go right into the trash can or the ashtray stand next to the machines.

Melissa said...

If I get ice cream at the movies, it's in bon bon form. The way you eat it, see, is you turn it upside-down and you bite off the flat part. Now you got a little chocolate cup full of ice cream, and a melting disc of chocolate in your mouth. Once the chocolate discs is dissolved and swallowed, the ice cream is probably soft enough to be sipped, sucked, poured, or otherwise transferred from the cup to your mouth. Finish by popping the empty cup in, hollow side down, so the chocolate done meets the roof of your mouth as it collapses.

Nowadays, my favorite movie candy is something like Sour Patch Kids. My mouth tends to get dry, but I don't want to drink a lot and miss the movie on a trip to Flushing Meadows.

I don't like to not buy ANYTHING, because concessions are where the theater owners make most of their money.

Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, I would buy them from the local ice cream truck!

Melissa, Trader Joe’s has some puffed corn things that are basically packing peanuts.

Nanook, if I was given Good and Plenty, I would suck the sugar candy coating off and throw away the licorice. I honestly don’t ever remember seeing bon bons at a movie theater concession stand, but as I said, I have never been somebody who snacks at the movies.

K. Martinez, I was sure that somebody would point out that I did not mention Goobers, while I did mention Raisinettes. It’s because I had a mental block and couldn’t think of the name, believe it or not!

TokyoMagic!, my mom wouldn’t let us bring candy in from the outside because she thought it was dishonest. And probably noisy! Gosh, what is a U-NO bar?? I’ve never had one of those. Maybe they still sell them at Rocket Fizz stores.

TokyoMagic!, I actually had to look up “Shirley Feeney”, which should tell you something. That whole show was just a thinly-veiled commercial for raisins! “Say, Laverne, as long as you’re out, would you pick me up a box of delicious raisins at Minsky’s shop?” (followed by an explosion of laughter from the audience). Ha, I wonder if anybody found your licorice gum balls on the ash tray stand and actually ate them?!? Stranger things have happened.

Melissa, wow, you have refined the art of eating a bon bon to its essence. How could you even follow the movie with so much going on? ;-) I like sour candy too, but can’t eat too much of it because it makes my mouth sore. Same with salt and vinegar potato chips! I am very delicate.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, this is from Wikipedia: "The U-NO is a truffle type bar with almond bits covered in a thin layer of chocolate, and wrapped in a silver foil-like wrapper." I always thought that the center was a little "greasy" in consistency, and I don't think they are all that healthy for you. The last time I checked the ingredients, they were made with the "bad" tropical oils, like palm oil and coconut oil. Apparently, they go back to the 1920's, but they can still be found today at select stores. Galco's Old World Grocery Store & Soda Pop Stop in Highland Park still sells them.

And here I thought "Laverne & Shirley" was a thinly veiled commercial for Milk, Pepsi, and Shotz Beer.

Now I feel guilty for smuggling candy into the theater. I never saw any signs posted, stating not to bring your own food inside. I guess it was sort of an unspoken rule, otherwise why would my grandmother put the candy in her purse instead of just carrying it into the theater in the Sav-On bag? In my upcoming Easter post (in April), I'll reveal what my great-grandmother smuggled into Disneyland during one of my childhood visits to the park!

Anonymous said...

The Sun Maid girl was a local celebrity in my youth. Sun Maid Raisin headquarters and packing sheds were in Fresno and Kingsburg in the San Joaquin valley near my home.

Here is the official story on the logo and the young lady, Lorraine Collett Petersen, who modeled for it in 1915. >>

She would make occasional fair and parade appearances off and on.

Fascinating post, Major. Really enjoyed the comments of the theater aficionados.