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    

Vintage Northwood Carnival Glass Aqua Opalescent Fruits & Flowers Bon Bon BowlVintage Fire King Jadeite Jadite Candy Dish With LidLalique France Crystal Serpentine Gao Dish Ring Tray, Nut Or Candy DishFabulous Antique Whiting 65gr Sterling Silver Floral Repousse Pierced Candy BowlGeneral Candy Store Antique Advertising Teaberry Gum Glass Change Receiver TrayAntique Victorian Sterling Silver Small Pierced Heart Shaped Bonbon Dish On Feet3 Vintage Square Apothecary Cotton Ball Candy Counter Display Lidded Jars Nr YqzVintage Sterling Silver Pierced Bon Bon/trinket Dish - Birmingham 1922 - W AdamsRare Antique Gorham? Sterling Silver .925 3004 Candy Nut Dish Floral Pattern NrVintage Sterling Silver Small Pierced Oval Floral Bonbon Trinket Pin Dish/bowlVintage Sterling Silver Pedestal Flat Vase Footed Tazza Bonbon Dish Comport 372gPair S Kirk & Son Silver Compote Repousse 436f Candy Dish Pedestal Bowls FloralAntique Gorham Sterling Silver Art Nouveau Repousse Bowl / Bon Bon Dish A2737Hm1971 Solid Silver Tazza Pedestal Bon Bon Dish Comport 143g Vintage Atc NrUnique Jensen Style Cartier Sterling Lily Footed Pedestal Bowl Candy DishVintage Glass Apothecary Display Retail Store Candy Buffet Wedding Jar LotTouraine Show Jar - Apothecary Jar - Candy Jar - Country Store Jar With LidHallmarked Silver Bon Bon Basket London 1921Vintage Wedgwood Pink Jasperware Covered Candy Trinket Dish VanityVintage International Wild Rose Sterling Silver Compote Footed Candy DishLibbey Engraved Floral Glass Candy Jar.800 Solid Silver Hexagonal Pierced 11.5 Cm Bon Bon DishSigned Waterford Cut Crystal "alana" 4" Art Glass Candy Nut Bonbon Dish Bowl NrVintage S Kirk & Son Sterling Silver 925 Repousse Cut Glass Coaster Candy BowlVintage Imperial Caramel Slag Glass Figural Rooster Covered Candy Dish Bowl LidVintage Fenton Candy Dish Lid Cranberry Opalescent SwirlOld Chinese Export Famille Rose Floral Painted Porcelain Candy Nut 6" Dish PlateMixed Lot Of Vintage Sterling Silver For Scrap 383 Grams , Candy Dish WeightedTall Elegant Cobalt Blue Glass Comport Compote Candy Dish, Bonbon Dish PedestalSterling Silver Fisher Weighted Vintage Candy Dish Engraved W/ "s"Belleek Irish Ireland Candy Nut Dish Shamrock Basket Weave With HandleRare Lg Pairpoint Murillo American Brilliant Cut Glass Jewelry Box Candy Jar AbpImperial Candlewick "red" Heart Candy Bowl 5 1/2" X 6 3/8"Lot Sterling Silver Weighted Candy Dish, Creamer Sugar, Candle Holders 540 GramsSolid Silver Relief Work Dish Bowl Bonbon Scrap ? 100g.800 Solid Silver Hexagonal Pierced 11.75 Cm Bon Bon DishFenton Burmese Candy DishVtg Westmoreland Milk Glass Footed Robin Bird On Nest Candy Dish Exc Detail!Vintage Indiana Glass Green Carnival Harvest Grape Covered Candy DishVaseline Glass Candy DishFenton Purple Carnival Glass Candy Dish/jar With Lid- Mother & BabyVintage Carnival Glass Ruffled Candy Dish Iradecent GreenFenton Pink Iridescent Compote Handpainted Signed Candy Dish Ruffled Rim Vintage Atterbury Milk Glass Lion Covered Candy Oval Dish - Brown (marble Look)Vintage Blue Slag Glass Hen On Nest Covered Candy Dish - Split TailFenton Dolphin-handled Jade Green Jadeite Covered Candy JarSuperb Ornate ~ Solid Silver ~ Bon Bon / Nut Bowl ~ B'ham 1913 By Williams Sterling Silver Wallace Footed Candy DishVintage Fenton Silver Crest Glass Violets In The Snow Heart Shaped Candy DishFenton White Milk Glass Hobnail Candy Dish W/ Lid Signed Covered Box,Antique 1920 Sterling Silver Hallmarked Pierced Bon Bon Dish - Trinket DishBlue Milk Glass Salt Cellar Celt Dip Cat Kitten On Nest Basket Dish Kitty Candy Royal Copenhagen Blue Fluted Pickle/candy Dish 1/141 EucVintage Fenton Art Glass Yellow Opalescent Ruffled Pedestal Candy Dish CompoteSet Vintage Fenton 2 Aqua Blue Vase Milk Glass Bon Bon Dish Crimp Edge Pre-markVintage Shreve & Co. Sterling Silver Poppy Motif Candy Bonbon Bowl,koc TriennialVintage Irish Belleek Girl Playing Harp Candy Mint Nut Dish Green MarkRed Antique Ground Glass Lid Insert 12" Apothecary Jar Or Candy Jar No ResVintage Wedgwood Embossed Queensware Sage Green Candy Trinket Dish Box W LidVintage Metal Double Cover Tea Storage Tin Jar Box Case Caddy Candy Coffee Sugar