The wonderful thing about candy, particularly when each piece is individually wrapped, is that you can put it anywhere. You can fill jars, bowls, baskets, vases, bags, buckets, and piñatas with candy. Pretty much any vessel of any solid material will do.

The first documented "candy containers"—small molded-glass toys filled with candy pellets—were made for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, shaped like Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. By the turn of the century, novelty glass candy containers were being churned out by dozens of U.S. glassworks, mostly located in Pennsylvania. The candy in these toys was held in place by metal caps or strips, or cardboard caps. The now-collectible pieces were originally intended for children, who would play with them long after the pellets were gone.

Boys were drawn to the containers such as the three-piece New York Central Train or Overland Limited, as well as the other vehicles like cars, buses, and trucks. Hollow glass guns were perfect for a game of "cowboys and Indians." Tanks, jeeps, ships, and airplanes let boys play military and war games. Girls tended to go for nursing bottles for their dolls, Flossie Fisher metal and glass doll-house furniture, as well as household toys like telephones, lanterns, rolling pins, irons, and toy dinnerware.

Glass candy containers also came in holiday themes or were shaped like popular comic-strip characters of the day. Others depicted animals and plants truer to nature. The earliest of these were designed by craftsmen, who would create a mold for each design, with each piece pressed or blown one at a time. When they had cooled, a woman at the glassworks would hand-paint them.

Glass toys went out of production during the Depression, between 1929 and 1939, and came back in full force during World War II. Even new automated factory assembly lines couldn't keep up with the popularity of these candy containers, and thousands were produced a day. Due to wartime metal shortages, the containers were closed with corks, wood stoppers, or waxed cardboard strips. In the '50s, glass containers were ditched in favor of plastics, a cheaper material. By the '70s, they went out of production all together.

The most prolific manufacturers of novelty candy containers were Westmoreland Glass, Jeannette Glass, Victory Glass, West Brothers Co., T. H. Stough, L. E. Smith, J. H. Millstein, and J. C. Crosetti Co. Originally sold at five-and-dimes and through catalogs like Sears Roebuck, such glass toys now can sell for anywhere from ten to several thousand dollars, depending on rarity. (Animal shapes tend to be common, while the more elaborate pre-1900 containers are the most sought after.)

Collectors have to be wary of modern reproductions, made in Taiwan without the closures or other metal parts. Many repros are made in colored glass like cobalt and pink. They mig...

The much more grown-up concept of confection or candy dishes probably had its start with the 18th-century European aristocracy, who liked to indulge in palate-cleansing desserts after their overly spiced meals. Known as sweetmeats, these desserts—usually preserved fruit, trifles, sundaes, or chocolate—would be served in individual ornate stemmed glasses, much like ice cream dishes. Smaller comfit glasses were employed to serve dry sweetmeats like chocolate, salted almonds, or cachous (breath mint lozenges).

Unlike comfit glasses, candy dishes—like their larger cousin, the console bowl—were placed on coffee tables, dining tables, and other furniture and filled with treats for everyone in the room to share. The top glassmakers of the 20th century, regardless whether they specialized in art glass or Depression glassware, made candy dishes in their popular patterns, whether that was cut glass, iridescent, or engraved. These include Lalique, Fenton, Fostoria, Waterford, Cambridge, Baccarat, Murano, Westmoreland, and Anchor Hocking.

Candy dishes similar to cookie jars were also made of ceramics, by the likes of Lefton, McCoy, Hull, and Reed and Barton, as well as in metals like sterling silver. In all materials, they were produced with and without handled covers.

One of the most common glass designs used as a candy dish is the "hen on nest" design. From 1880 to 1910, as many as 84 companies put out 174 variations on this concept. After that, 13 companies made hen-on-nest covered dishes in carnival glass.

Of the recent candy dishes, one of the most popular is the Chessie box, made by Fenton for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad in 1970. The first of these covered candy dishes, which featured the railroad's beloved sleeping kitten, Chessie, were unmarked and made in amethyst carnival glass and only given to heads of state and friends of the railway.

Employees expressed interest in the candy dish, and so the railroad ordered more for Christmas gifts, and these were marked "December 1970 Chessie by Fenton." In 1977, Fenton got permission to produce the Chessie box for its regular line in different colors. That's when the mold number changed from #T9180 to #9840.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Candy Container Collectors of America

Candy Container Collectors of America

A reference site on glass and plastic collectible candy containers, featuring galleries of container photos ranging… [read review or visit site]

Feeding America

Feeding America

This archive of 76 influential American cookbooks from the late 1700s to early 1900s, assembled by the Michigan St… [read review or visit site]

Tupper Diva

Tupper Diva

Kristian McManus’ fresh, airtight collection of Tupperware catalogs and related ephemera from the 1950s and 6… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

C1910 French T&v Limoges Hand Painted Dresser Basket Bonbon Dish By E Miler NrStunning 1911 Antique Solid Silver Pierced Pedestal Bon Bon Sweets Dish BowlVintage Green Fiesta Sweets Treat Pedestal Compote Bowl Candy Dish FiestawareSuperb Pair ~ Mappin & Webb ~ Silver Plated ~ Bon Bon Pedestal Bowls ~ C1925Lovely Collection Of 4 Vintage Hallmarked Sterling Silver Bonbon Dishes - 183gGorgeous Antique Coalport Porcelain Compote/candy Pedestal Dish Cobalt BlueAntique 1880s Blanke & Bro St. Louis Apothecary Candy Jar W/ Ground Stopper 10"Antique Drug Store Apothecary Swirl Pattern Counter Candy Jar 17 1/2'' Tall Good 7" ~ Silver Plated ~ Aesthetic Styled ~ Bon Bon Basket ~ C1890Imperial Glass Red Herringbone & Beaded Ovals Covered Candy Dish ~ Mint! Blue Milk Glass Hen On Nest With White Head Candy Dish, Vintage 5 1/2"Vintage Fenton Opalescent Topaz Yellow Coin Dot Ruffled Edge Candy DishPat. 1929 Early Antique Paper Mache Rabbit W/basket Candy Container 11" - Exc!Set Of 7 Glass Apothecary Jars-candy Buffet, Wedding/holiday/partyWestmoreland Bird Nest Candy Dish Compote Bowl White Milk Glass! Pigeon DovePink Rose Carnival Glass Serving Honey Pot Bee Hive Pattern Jar Dish Boyd Candy Blue Milk Glass Bunny Rabbit On Nest Basket Candy Dish Easter Eggs Bonnie OpaquePink Milk Glass Bunny Rabbit On Nest Basket Candy Dish Easter Eggs Crown TuscanTiffany Studios Lct Favrile Footed Ruffled Floriform Compote Candy DishWallace Grand Baroque Sterling Silver 6" Heart Shaped Candy Bowl Nut DishEhs Sterling Silver Bon-bon Candy Dish Basket Fancy Flroal Border Tiffany & Co. Tiffany Co Sterling Silver Bowl 102g Estate Find Candy / Nut BowlAntique 925 Solid Sterling Silver Frank M. Whiting Co. Ornate Candy Dish 111gFenton Handpainted Vaseline Glass Covered Jar Lemons 100 Yrs 2005 C. Kelly CandyLate Victorian Pair Of Pierced Solid Silver Bon Bon Dishes, 1900Lovely Portieux Vallerysthal Blue Opaline Robin's Egg Blue Pineapple/candy DishVintage Lot Of 8 Glass Apothecary Jars Wedding Shower Candy Bar Buffet DisplayVintage Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Lotus Dish Candy Or Nuts 3.25" Superb NrFenton Glass"mint+prf~vintage~70's"ruby/red"hobnail"cvd"candy Jar/boxWhite Milk Glass Lot One W/ Lid Flower Pots Candy DishesLot Of 7 Clear Glass Apothecary Style Jars W/lids~wedding Candy Bar Buffet~vtg. Gorham Sterling Silver Weighted Pedestal Compote Candy/ Nut Dish # 1240Solid Silver Bon Bon Dish - Bowl- Basket - Stuart Dawson - 1910Sterling Silver Filigree Dish. Birmingham 1901. Joseph Willmore. Bon Bon DishFenton White Compote, Candy Dish, Hp Violets, Amethyst Or Purple Crest, & BellAntique Gorham A5648 Sterling Silver Floral Repousse Wavy Edge Bonbon Bowl,5.5"Vintage Fenton Carnival Glass Amethyst 1970 Hen On Nest Split Tail Candy DishFenton Hobnail Compote Candy Dish Turquoise Milk Glass With Ruffle Edge Footed Fenton Sea Mist Green Opalescent Small Compote, Candy Dish, Black Carnival CrestHofbauer Byrdes Ruby Red Set Trinket Crystal Candy Dish Birds GermanyUnmarked Fenton Pond Lily Blue Carnival Glass Bonbon Bowl W HandlesAntique 925 Sterling Silver Footed Candy Dish Compote 55gOlive Green Italian Empoli Optic Diamond Apothecary Candy Jar Blue Milk Glass Hen On Nest With White Head Candy Dish, Vintage 5 1/2"Fenton Hobnail Compote Candy Dish Pink Milk Glass With Ruffle Edge Footed Vtg Lead Crystal Starburst Pattern Lidded Round Candy Dish Bowl 8.5 X 6 Inches Gorham Sterling 1136 Bon Bon Dish 85 GramsBeautiful Northwood Ice Blue Tri-corner Drapery Candy Dish!! Beautiful Pastels!!Lot Of 2 Herend Porcelain Hand Painted Candy Dishes. Queen Victoria. #s725/vboVintage Tom's Peanut - Candy 1c (one Cent) Counter Display Jar Blue Milk Glass Hen On Nest Candy Dish, Vintage Large 8"Fenton Red Carnival Glass 1776 Bicentennial Eagle Covered Compote Candy Dish Claussen Lidded Glass Candy JarLarge Cobalt Blue Glass Hen On Nest Candy DishLarge Green Glass Hen On Nest Candy DishTiffany & Co. Cushion Bowl Candy Dish Clear Crystal 6" Diameter SquaredVintage Gorham Sterling Silver Fluted/scallop Sea Shell Nut Candy Dish 74gr #445Vtg Glass Circus Carousel Covered Candy Dish Jar ExcellentHand Painted Limoges Candy DishVintage Sterling 171 Weighted Silver Compote Candy Dish Pedestal Bowl 6" Tall