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    

Rare Vintage Deco Noritake Covered Candy Jar - Lady Red Dress -sheldon & Sayo Beautiful Edwardian Solid Silver & Mother Of Pearl Shell Bon Bon Basket 1907Rare Advertising Tip Tray 3 Monkeys Velvet CandyVintage Signed Vera Christmas Holiday Candy Cane Jars Dish Tea TowelVintage Hazel Atlas Aqua Turquoise Candy Stripe 5" Cereal Bowl 1950's EraNice Pair Of Stieff Baltimore Floral Sterling Silver Repousse Candy Nut DishesVintage Napco Christmas Girl Caroler Figurine Planter Candy Dish Candle Holder 2Vintage Dakota Footed Globe 12" Apothecary Candy JarAntique 1911 Birmingham Saunders & Shepard Sterling Silver Pierced Candy BowlVintage Jadeite Green Milk Glass Pedestal Covered Candy Dish Bird On Nest Figural Sterling Silver Stag Cow Finial Footed Covered Bon-bon BowlVintage 1950 Stieff Rose Pattern Sterling Silver Candy Bowl Dish 5 & 1/2" 105gmRare Co-operative Flint Glass Co. Amber Walking Bear Figure Candy Dish & Cover8 Vintage Glass Apothecary Candy Jars Wedding Party Table Bar Buffet Display LotA Stunning & Beautiful Solid Silver Pierced Victorian Bon Bon Dish Dates 1891.Gorham Sterling Silver #966 Heart Shaped Pierced Bon Bon / Nut Dish - No MonoVictorian Solid Silver Bonbon Dish - Sheffield 1896 - Fenton BrothersVintage Signed Vera Red Christmas Holiday Bow Candy Cane Bell Dish Tea TowelVintage Paul Revere Reproduction Sterling Silver Watrous Small Candy Finger BowlArt Deco Kneeling Woman With Glass Bowl Candy Dish, 1920's, SpelterDakota 6-3/8" Tall Egyptian Candy Apothecary Country Store Jar With Lid Dakota 5" Tall Egyptian Candy Apothecary Country Store Jar With Lid Antique Irish Solid Silver Fruit Or Bonbon Dish / Bowl 1932Krinkles Christmas Candy Dish Holly Poinsettia Department 56 Patience BrewsterVintage Reed & Barton Sterling Silver X102b Triple Leaf Bon-bon/nut Dish 250g!!Lot 14 Murano Art Glass Candy Christmas Ornament Candies Dish Tree Decoration Authentic Tiffany & Co Shell Candy Nut Dish Sterling Silver 925 Vintage Yellow Fiesta Ware Compote/footed Sweets/candy DishHuge Dakota 13-3/4" Tall Egyptian Candy Apothecary Country Store Jar With Lid Vintage Roseville Pottery Green Pinecone Tray/candy Dish #497Vintage Glass Candy Store Counter Advertising Display Jar Hoosier Flour CrackerGood Pair ~ Pickle / Candy Jars On Stand ~ C1920 ~ From Burlington Folkestone Westmoreland Glass Robin On Nest Bird Antique Blue Milk Compote Candy DishDepression Fenton Hobnail Milk Glass Ruffle Candy Dish Bowl With Handles 7" WideLalique France Signed Nogent Compote 5.5" Footed Clear Crystal Candy DishPolish Pottery Starzyk Tree Shaped Candy Dish Bowl Birds Roses FlowersVintage Sterling Silver Weighted Compote Pedestal Dish Candy Bowl Preisner #38 Vintage Brass Cast Metal Dog Sculpture Scottish Terrier Scottie Glass Candy Dish14 Pieces Vintage Pink Depression Glass Bowl, Cups, Candy DishesRoyal Albert Christmas Gifts Series - Santa's Candy BowlVaseline Opalescent Glass Eyewinker Pattern Candy / Jam Soap Dish Uranium YellowRms Adriatic White Star Line Ocean Liner Silverplated Handled Bon Bon Nut DishVtg 1965 Royal Copenhagen Blue Fluted Plain Leaf Dish #144 Side Relish CandySuperb Large 10" ~ Walker & Hall ~ Pedestal Bon Bon/ Fruit Bowl ~ C1920 Antique German Royal Rudolstadt Porcelain Flower Basket Candy Bowl Dish DresdenVentian Green And Blue Glass Dish With Glass Candy From Murano (rubinato)Boxed Vintage Queen Anne Bon Bon Nut Sweet Dish In Ornate Silver Plate By Mayell2 Kirk Son Repousse Sterling Berry Bon Bon Nut Spoons Fruit Bowl 5 1/8" 58 GramsVintage Cambrige Wildflower Colbalt Blue Glass Candy DishWallace Sterling Bon Bon Bowl Signed Rose Point2 Vtg Sterling Silver 925 Candy/nut Bowls Over 300 Grams Footed Shell Randahl 32Vtg Antique Crown Sterling Silver Reticulated Compote Candy Dish Bowl WeightedDisney Lenox From Snow White & 7 Dwarfs Heigh Ho Candy DishGreat Gift For Bull Dog Lovers Patience Brewster Candy Dish Krinkles Depart 56 Ruby Red Carnival Glass Eyewinker Pattern Candy Dish Sugar Bowl Royal IridescentJadeite Green Milk Glass Bunny Rabbit On Nest Basket Candy Dish Easter Eggs JadeAntique Drug Store Medicinal Pharmacy Apothecary Candy Jar Ground Lid OnlyBlue Aqua Opalescent Glass Eyewinker Pattern Candy / Jam Soap Dish 4 Toe ButterFenton Art Glass~ Rare Swirl Candy Box/dish In Violet~ Item #4280-oe~ Excellent!Tiffany & Co. Antique Sterling Silver Candy Dish 212 Grams