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    

Fine William Drummond Australian Sterling Silver Bon Bon Open Salt Bowls C1900sFenton Glass Plum Opalescent Hobnail Covered Candy Dish (c)Antique Solid Silver Indian Kutch Madras Swami Bonbon Dish Snake 19th Centurey Millersburg Holly Antique Carnival Art Glass 2 Handled Candy Dish~purple~super!Lovely Elegant Retro Candy Striped Murano Art Glass Nappy BowlMurano Glass Bowl Gold Flecks Ruffled Handblown Candy Dish Ashtray Vintage(30) Full Case Shopkins Food Fair Blind Candy Jar Canisters 60 Shopkins!!Fenton Art Glass Covered Candy/ Box Dish Hand Painted Signed A FarleyA Pair Of Fantastic Chinese Export Silver Bon Bon Dishes C1900 Wang HingSterling Silver 925 Oyster Clam Scalloped Shell Candy Nut Fluted Oval Dish Bowl X10 500ml Empty Plastic Sweet Jars Candy Buffet Wedding Storage Party FavorsSet 6 Antique Art Deco Silver Plate Octagonal Footed 2 3/4" Candy Nut Dish BowlVintage Lalique Crystal Glass Gao Nut Candy Dish Bowl No ReserveVtg Vaseline Glass Yellow/green Glow Daisy & Button Pattern Candy Dish OblongFostoria Square Crystal Candy Dish With LidVintage Solid Silver Bonbon Dish - Sheffield 1933 70gAntique Large Sterling Silver Candy Dish W Handle & Lace Filigree 9"Carlos Columbo Chocolate Candy Advertising Tin Plate Tray C1905 Buenos AriesStieff Rose Chrysanthemum Repousse Sterling Silver Bon Bon Bowl No Mono .925Royal Albert "old Country Roses" Bone China Candy Dish Stieff Rose Chrysanthemum Repousse Sterling Silver Bon Bon Bowl No Mono .925Vintage Jadeite Jadite Candy Trinket Dish Clam Sea Shell Green Milk Glass Vintage Mexico Sterling Silver 1950's Three Footed Candy Card Dish Iris And Herringbone Crystal Candy Dish With Top Covered Perfect It's A Beauty Vtg. Glass Drugstore Display Wedding, Candy Buffet Apothecary Jar Lot Of 6Antique English Sterling Silver Oyster Clam Scalloped Shell Candy Nut Dish BowlVintage Jadeite Jadite Candy Trinket Dish Clam Sea Shell Green Milk Glass Disney Store Exclusive Alice In Wonderland White Rabbit Ceramic Candy DishAntique 11" Columbia Swirl Apothecary Globe Pedestal Heavy Clear Glass Candy JarSterling Silver Weighted Compote 4.5" Candy Dish / Bowl #670. 145.3gPortieux Vallerysthal France Opaque Blue Milk Glass Pedestal Compote Candy DishVintage Rooster Chicken On Basket Westmoreland Milk Glass Candy Dish LargeVintage Murano Italian Art Glass Gold Fleck Clear Candy Dish Ash TraySigned Waterforld Irish Cut Crystal 5 1/2" Footed Glass Candy Fruit Bowl Nr SmsLot 4 Pink Vintage Opalescent Glassware Fenton 3-horn Vase Bowl, Candy Dish +1345 Grams Sterling Silver - Scrap - Candlesticks, Candy Dish - JunkCarnival Nice Amethyst Peacocktail Candy Ribbon Edged BowlSterling Silver Shell Nut/candy DishHummel Chick Girl Iii/57 Tmk3 Tmk 3 Candy Dish 5.5" Tall Lot#a11Jeanette Glass Co. Pink Milk Glass Covered Candy Dish Grape DesignHex Footed Candy Dish With Lid The Byrdes Collection By Hofbauer CrystalAntique Victorian Heart Shaped Silver Bon Bon Dish,birmingham 1901.beautiful..Tiara Indiana Glass Aqua Blue Footed Honey Bee Hive Box Candy Dish Htf Orange Indiana Glass Halloween Flying Witches Bats Candy Dish Ice Bucket 6.75” Steuben Glass Thumbprint Nut Candy Bowl - No Reserve CollectionFenton Rose Pastel Pink Hobnail Milk Glass Bon Bon Candy 6" Dish Bowl Rare Plate 4 Sets Spode Christmas Tree Cutlry Set ,serving Bowl, Candy Dish,coastersVintage Large Lance Advertising Glass Candy Cracker Jar Store Display 12" TallAntique International Silver Prelude Bon Bon Sterling Silver Bowl B179 Antique Sterling Silver Footed Lattice Candy Dish With HandleVintage Fenton 2 Tier Handled Milk Glass Silver Crest Candy Dish / Serving DishKing's Crown Clear Glass Lidded Candy DishLenox Disney--winnie The Pooh---birthday Parade---candy DishVintage Barbie #0889 Candy Striper Volunteer Tray (1964)Vintage Fenton White Milk Glass Hobnail Covered Candy Dish Pedestal CompoteVintage Silver Plated Bonbon Dish Glass Bowl Epns Stand - 250 S79Vintage Button Milk Glass Candy Bowl With Lid Mint Plus ConditionVintage Tiffany Round Candy Dish/tray Stamped, 925 Silver, Monogrammed 8" WideSet Of 9 Apothecary Jar's/open Bowls, Candy Buffet-wedding/partyFostoria American Wedding Bowl/candy Dish