Antique and Vintage Candy Containers

Novelty candy packaging has been customary since the 19th century, when chocolates were first sold in black cats around Halloween or inside turkeys around Thanksgiving. These papier mâché forms could be used to decorate shop windows or drawing rooms, while also enticing customers toward a particular brand of sweets.

Perhaps the most popular candy containers were shaped like St. Nick: These papier mâché and composition Santa Clauses were particularly elaborate, almost like dolls in appearance. Ranging from 5 to 11 inches in height, these figures often had furry beards and felt stocking caps covered in tinsel to represent snow. Usually they held tiny trees or bags of miniature ornaments. When Santa's head was removed, his hollow body could be filled with tiny, pellet-size candy before he took his place on the family Christmas tree.

Once emptied of candy, these beautiful containers might be saved as ornaments and hung on the tree for years to come. Others became toys that were used in play; containers shaped like suitcases and hatboxes were the perfect size to hold doll accessories. Yet many were destroyed in the opening process, or simply thrown away once their contents were consumed. The Barnum's Animal Crackers box, shaped like circus car, is an example of a treat-filled Christmas-present ornament that was regularly discarded.

Mass-produced candy-container ornaments also included miniature boxes, baskets, pails, or tea cups, often decorated with holly leaves or poinsettias. Some papier mâché containers were covered in wax and shaped like animals, fruits, musical instruments, or figurines like angels. Containers shaped like churches or homes were particularly popular as gifts from churches to their congregations or from Sunday school teachers to their pupils.

Some families also made their own hand-crafted ornaments to hold the goodies hanging from the trees, which made these containers some of the earliest Christmas presents. The simplest design was the candy cornucopia, which was made from a piece of paper rolled into the shape of a cone.

By the 1880s, ever more elaborate candy-box ornaments were mass-produced and offered via mail-order catalogs like Bernard Mayer or Butler Brothers (Sears Roebuck and Marshall Field's came later), with or without candy. Some of the most coveted containers today were imported from Dresden, known for its die-cut, embossed cardboard ornaments.

Meanwhile, in France, ladies of means were romanced with "boites á bonbons," cardboard boxes filled with the finest truffles or other delicacies and lavishly decorated with gilding, mercury glass, and ribbons. Humorously enough, the term "boite á bonbons" became slang for a bordello.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Papa Teds Place

Papa Teds Place

The late Theodore H. Althof, Jr's beautiful collection of vintage dimestore cardboard Christmas 'putz' village hous… [read review or visit site]

Advertising Antiques

Advertising Antiques

This classy looking British site features hundreds of high resolution photos of antique porcelain pre-war (enamel) … [read review or visit site]

Antique Christmas Lights Museum

Antique Christmas Lights Museum

George Nelson's incredibly detailed chronicle of vintage Christmas tree lighting. Browsable by decade and special t… [read review or visit site]

Ad Access

Ad Access

Duke University's library has pulled together an impressive collection of over 7,000 ads printed in U.S. and Canadi… [read review or visit site]

Bohemian Christmas Decorations

Bohemian Christmas Decorations

This simple site showcases over 500 artistic Gablonz glass bead antique and vintage Christmas tree ornaments, made … [read review or visit site]

American Package Museum

American Package Museum

Ian House's gallery of early 20th Century American package designs. Browse the exhibits in slide show mode or view … [read review or visit site]

Old Soviet Christmas Cards

Old Soviet Christmas Cards

This site showcases over 1000 old Soviet Christmas and New Years cards from 1950 to 1990. Browse through page after… [read review or visit site]

Found in Moms Basement

Found in Moms Basement

Paula Zargaj-Reynolds’ blog, an extensive collection of 20th century vintage advertising, is a visual feast. Scro… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Rare 26 In German Father Christmas, Reindeer Drawn Candy Container, Feather TreeAntique Vintage 12" Christmas Santa Paper Mache Candy Container Belsnickle Vtg Tin Halloween Pumpkin Candy Pail Jol Us Metal Toy Horn NoseRare Vintage Paper Mache Victorian Silver Bunny Rabbit German Candy ContainerEarly Vintage Tindeco Candy Tin Container Box Christmas Santa Claus Vintage Tube Of Ghostbusters Slimer Bubble Gum Candy ContainerAntique Vintage Christmas Ornament Candy Container Box Parakeets Cockatoo BirdsVintage E Rosen Rosbro Easter Rooster Pulling Cart Candy Container 1950'sAntique Father Christmas Santa Candy Container Vintage Halloween 5" Papier Mache Jack-o-lantern Pulp Lantern Candy Container Set Of 3 Candy Container Buildings. Princess Theatre, Schoolhouse & 2 StoryhouseVtg. Velvet Flocked Rabbit Candy Container Germany Composition/ Paper Mache Antique Blue Bird Cookie Candy Toffee Tin Black Cat Kitten Chrysanthemum EnglandVintage Large Papier Mâché Pulp Easter Bunny Candy ContainerVintage German Easter Rabbit Candy Container 6" Tall.blue Yellow & White Suit.Vintage/antique German Paper Mache Bunny/rabbit Candy ContainerVintage Mrs. Steven's Scotty Dog Candy TinAdorable Old Bunny Rabbit Candy Container W/gold Painted Head Celestial Seasonings Tea Tin Candy Cane LaneVintage Paper Mache Clown Rabbit Candy Container Germany Vtg Tin Candy Pail W/hdl Garden Co Confectioners Children Playing On Sand Beach Vintage Patriotic 4th Of July, Geo. Wahington's Ax Hatchet Paper Candy ContainerAntique Candy Tin With Teddy Bear In Top HatOld "model T" Candy Container, Marked "usa", 1 1/2 Oz.Vintage 3 Plastic Jack-o-lanterns With Black Cat And Witch Candy ContainersVintage Cardboard Dream Castle Chocolates Box , 1920's, Smith Candy,pueblo, ColoVintage Red Rose Candy TinVintage German Papier-mache Brown Rabbit Candy Container Easter Very Old Vintage Curtiss Christmas Chocolate Candy Santa Claus Box~box OnlyVintage Life Raft Tablet Ration - Navy Survival Tin - Chicklets, Charms Candy CoVtg Christmas 7-inch Papier Mache Snowman W Top Hat Candy Container? C1940sVintage Holloways Milk Duds Candy Box Container Holstein Cattle 24 CountVintage Halloween Christmas Plastic Rosbro / Rosen Candy Container Original WheVintage Bugs Bunny Carrot Patch Carrot Bubble Gum Candy ContainerBlue Bird Confectionery Harry Vincent Limited Tin Candy Box Red With Marble LookAntique Candy Box Apollo Chocolates Paper Lace Mums Flowers Silk Ribbons + PosyAntique Vintage Liggetts Chocolates Candy Box Early 1900's (rare) Vintage West Germany Linette Chest/candy Tin With Lock And KeyVintage Jamesons Hinged Lid Candy Tin With Dogs, Made In EnglandHafberlein Metzger A6 German Candy TinVintage Foghorn Leghorn Ear Of Popcorn Bubble Gum Candy Container MwtVintage Victorian / Flapper Woman Floral Lithoed Hinged Tin Candy Box England ExFd4121 Creative Chocolate Candy Biscut Chip Ballpoint Pen Stationery Gift 1pc ☆