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History of Circus Peanuts Candy

History of Circus Peanuts Candy

Circus peanuts are a type of candy that have been around for over a century. They are known for their unique shape and bright orange color, and have become a beloved treat for many people around the world. Despite their popularity, the history of circus peanuts is not well-known, and many people are unaware of their origins.

According to candy historians, circus peanuts were first created in the late 1800s. They were originally sold as a seasonal treat, and were one of the original penny candies that were popular at the time. Over the years, circus peanuts have remained a popular candy, and have become a staple in many households. Despite their long history, many people are still unaware of the origins of this iconic candy.

Origins of Circus Peanuts

Invention and Early History

Circus peanuts have been a popular candy in the United States for over a century. They were first invented in the late 1800s by a man named James W. Clapp. Clapp used a process called “aeration” to make the candy, which involved whipping sugar, corn syrup, and flavorings together to create a light and airy texture.

Circus peanuts were one of many unwrapped “penny candies” sold in retail outlets such as five-and-dime stores. They were sold in bulk and were a popular treat for children.

Name and Shape Origin

The origin of the name “circus peanuts” is unclear, but some historians speculate that it may be related to the fact that they were often sold at circuses and other outdoor events.

The shape of circus peanuts is also unique. They are elongated and have a slightly curved shape, with a textured surface that resembles a peanut shell. The candy is usually colored bright orange and has a distinct artificial banana flavor.

Over the years, circus peanuts have become a cult classic among candy lovers. While some people love their unique flavor and texture, others find them unappealing. Despite this, circus peanuts remain a popular candy in the United States and can be found in many stores and online retailers.

Manufacturing Process


Circus peanuts are made using a combination of sugar, corn syrup, gelatin, and other ingredients. These ingredients are mixed together and whipped to create a light and airy texture. The mixture is then heated to a specific temperature and poured into molds to take on the iconic peanut shape.

Molding and Texturing

The molds used to create circus peanuts are specially designed to create the unique texture of the candy. The molds are lined with a starch-based powder to prevent the candy from sticking. The mixture is poured into the molds while still hot and allowed to cool and harden. Once the candy has hardened, it is removed from the molds and coated with a layer of cornstarch to prevent it from sticking together.

Flavoring and Coloring

Circus peanuts are known for their bright orange color and unique flavor. The candy is flavored using a combination of natural and artificial flavorings to create a taste that is both sweet and slightly fruity. The candy is also colored using a combination of natural and artificial colorings to achieve the bright orange hue that is characteristic of circus peanuts.

Overall, the manufacturing process for circus peanuts is a complex and precise process that requires careful attention to detail to achieve the perfect texture, flavor, and appearance.

Popularity and Cultural Impact

Peak Popularity Era

Circus Peanuts candy reached peak popularity in the mid-20th century. During this time, the candy was a staple of penny candy stores across America and was often found in candy dishes at homes and offices. The candy’s unique texture and flavor made it a favorite among children and adults alike.

Circus Peanuts in Media

Circus Peanuts candy has made appearances in popular media throughout the years. In the 1971 film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” a character is seen eating Circus Peanuts while touring the factory. The candy has also been referenced in various TV shows, including “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy.”

Despite its popularity in the past, Circus Peanuts candy has become somewhat of a polarizing treat in recent years. While some people still enjoy the candy’s banana flavor and marshmallow-like texture, others find it unappetizing. Nonetheless, Circus Peanuts candy remains a beloved part of American candy history.

Variations and Flavors

Circus peanuts are known for their bright orange color and artificial banana flavor. However, there are other variations and flavors of this classic candy. Some manufacturers produce circus peanuts in different colors such as pink, yellow, and white. These colors are often associated with different flavors such as strawberry, lemon, and vanilla respectively.

In addition to the classic banana flavor, circus peanuts can also be found in other fruity flavors such as orange, grape, and cherry. Some manufacturers have even experimented with more unique flavors such as blue raspberry and watermelon.

Aside from the traditional marshmallow texture, circus peanuts can also be found in other forms such as gummies and hard candies. The gummy version of circus peanuts has a chewy texture while the hard candy version has a crunchy texture.

Overall, circus peanuts have come a long way since their creation in the 1800s. With various colors and flavors available, there is a circus peanut for everyone’s taste buds.

Marketing and Packaging

Circus peanuts were first sold as unwrapped penny candy in the late 1800s. However, the candy’s popularity increased in the 1940s when polyethylene film was created, allowing for year-round sales. The candy’s bright orange color and artificial banana flavor quickly became its trademark.

The Spangler Candy Company, which has been producing circus peanuts since the 1930s, packages them in a variety of ways. Some are sold under the Spangler brand, while others are sold in bulk for repackaging. The company produces 32,000 pounds of circus peanuts per day, making them one of their most popular products.

In addition to traditional packaging, circus peanuts have also been marketed in unique ways. For example, in the 1960s, the candy was used as a promotional item by the Barnum & Bailey Circus. The company gave away bags of circus peanuts to children attending the circus, further cementing the candy’s association with the circus.

Today, circus peanuts continue to be a nostalgic treat for many Americans. They can be found in candy stores, supermarkets, and online retailers, and are often used as decorations for circus-themed parties and events.

Collectability and Nostalgia

Circus peanuts have been around for over a century, and their unique texture and flavor have made them a favorite among candy enthusiasts. Despite their mixed reputation, many people have fond memories of eating them as children, and they have become a collectible item for some.

One reason for their collectability is their limited availability. Circus peanuts are not as widely available as other candies, and some people enjoy the challenge of finding them. They are also often associated with nostalgia for a simpler time, when candy was a rare treat rather than a ubiquitous commodity.

Another factor that contributes to their collectability is their unique shape and packaging. Circus peanuts are often sold in bright orange bags with a cartoon elephant on the front, which adds to their whimsical appeal. Some collectors even seek out vintage packaging and advertising materials to add to their collections.

Overall, while circus peanuts may not be everyone’s favorite candy, their long history and unique appeal have made them a beloved and collectible item for many.

Modern Day Production

Today, circus peanuts are still being produced by a few companies, including Spangler Candy, which is the largest producer of the candy in the United States. The candy is made using a process called aeration, which involves whipping sugar, corn syrup, and flavorings together to create a light and airy texture. The candy is then shaped like a peanut and dyed an orange color.

Spangler Candy produces circus peanuts in three flavors: banana, vanilla, and cherry. The banana flavor is the most popular and the most familiar to consumers. The company also produces mini circus peanuts, which are smaller versions of the candy.

Circus peanuts are sold in various packaging sizes, including small bags and large tubs. They are often sold in candy stores, grocery stores, and online retailers. Some companies also produce circus peanut-themed merchandise, such as t-shirts and keychains.

Overall, the production of circus peanuts has remained relatively unchanged over the years, with the candy still being made using the same basic process. Despite being a somewhat niche candy, circus peanuts continue to be enjoyed by many people today.