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    

R. Lalique France Frosted Crystal Jaffa Fruit Bowl Candy Dish Excellent Cond! Vintage J. Chein Tin Litho Easter Bunny Rabbit Candy Basket Cart Toy 1950s NiceShreve & Co Sterling Arts And Craft Nut Or Candy W Clear Glass Bowl & Bell LogoAntique Sterling Silver Bon Bon Dish With Footed Pedestal, 1912Royal Copenhagen Blue Full Lace Candy Dish / Tray Perfect!Vintage Easter Metal Pull Toy,chicken Dishes,rosbro Candy Holder,german Egg,dyeAmerican Girl Rare Fall Sweet Treats Candy Bowl Trays Lemonade Drinks 5pc Grace Mid Century Tammis Keefe Large Linen Tablecloth Drug Store Candy Display Jars Lalique Fish Sculptural Art Glass Bowl France By Lalique Cigar / Candy Dish 6"Rogaska Crystal Candy Dish & Lid - Gallia Pattern - Mint Condition No Reserve!! Royal Copenhagen #511 Blue Fluted Half Lace Low Footed Compote Candy DishBeautiful L.e Smith Covered, Footed Compote/candy Dish Blue Moon And Stars!Lalique France Crystal Honfleur Frosted Leaves Deep Saucer Bowl Candy Dish Mint Fine Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Heart Form Bon Bon Tea Caddy Jar Serving Spoon Vaseline Glass Collection 26 Pcs No Reserve Candlestick Holders Candy DishA Stowell Sterling Pedistal Candy DishSuperb Ornate 6" ~ Solid Silver ~ Bon Bon Dish ~ London 1961 ~ 93gBulk Lot: 3 X Lrg 750ml Apothacary Jars Wedding Lolly Candy Scoop Bag Bar PartyAsprey & Co Nut Sweet Bonbon Pierced Reticulated Bead Edge Dish Hm Chester 1908Antique Silver Bon Bon Sweet Dish Hm Chester 1921 75g Not Scrap Japanese Sterling Silver Double Handle Candy Bowl/etched Tree Blossoms ButterflyVintage Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Nut Or Bon Bon BowlVtg 1950s Paper Mache Easter Bunny Rabbit W/ Basket Candy Container Decoration PClassic Mid Century Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Candy,nut,mint Bowl,5",no MonoVintage Tane Nut Candy Bowl Dish Mexico Sterling Silver 925Antique Limoges Elite Dish Bonbon Art Nouveau Artist Signed Gold Handles Lilies!Antique Reed & Barton Sterling Silver Windsor Pattern Nut Candy Dish TrayVintage Mermaid With Umbrella Soap Candy Dish Ceramic PorcelainStunning Victorian Silver Bon Bon Dish - Sheffield 1897 - James Dixon & Sons LtdVintage Clear Glass Apothecary Jars Candy Buffet Wedding Gorgeous Lot Of 10~!!Top Quality Elkington & Co. 1909 Sterling Silver Pierced Nut Dishes Candy BowlsRare 1970 Johnny Unitas Baltimore Orioles Football Ashtray / Candy DishFenton Holly Blk Amethyst Carnival Glass Candy Ribbon Edge 7 5/8"bowl No ReservePink Milk Glass Bunny Rabbit On Nest Basket Candy Dish Easter Eggs Crown Tuscan Vintage Easter Candy Tin Made In England George Horner & Comp. Rabbit W/basketShelley Fenton Candy Dish With Purple Glass Lid #1715Antique Cased Pair Of Solid Silver Bon Bon Dishes 1913Good Circular Solid Sterling Silver Pedestal Bon Bon Dish.2- Vtg Antique Ornate Gorham Sterling Silver Nut Candy Dishes Marked Made In UsaAntique Gorham Sterling Silver Heart Shaped Pierced Candy Bowl - 72 GramsHerend Hungary Porcelain Rothschild Bird Insect Moth Bug Covered Candy Dish BowlFenton Black Rose Crest 7" Ruffled Art Glass Candy Dish Or BowlJadeite Green Milk Glass Bunny Rabbit On Nest Basket Candy Dish Easter Eggs JadePink Fenton Rose Pedestal Candy Dish With LidVtg Lot Of 2 Tin Litho Easter Egg Candy Containers Bunnies Basket Hong KongPair Of Sterling Silver Pierced Quaich Style Bon Bon Dishes 1952/53, Barker BrosMappin & Webb Sterling Silver 3 Footed Pierced Bon Bon Dish / Nut Bowl C.1916 Pretty In Pink: 9 Mint Unique Cane Mibs Plus Hand Painted Bavarian Candy Dish!Vintage Ornate Milk Glass Candy Dish *no Reserve W/ Free Shipping!!!A Pair Of Solid Silver Bon Bon Dish's Marked Tiffany & CoAntique Glass Bunny Rabbit Popping Out Of Egg- Candy Container Jar -all OriginalVintage Reed & Barton Sterling Silver Nut Or Candy Dish / Double Leaf Rare X102aHandpainted Easter Spring Glass Candy Dish Polymer Clay..no GourdMurano Art Glass Dish Candy Bowl Red Glass Star Pattern Home Art Deco A Beauty!Shamrock China Candy Dish St. Patrick's DayMarbles 5-lb Candy Jar Estate Find Lots Of Old Looking !maybe Keepers!!!Empty Altoids Candy Tins, Lot Of 9, Use In Crafts, Survival Kits, Junk, WhateverArt Nouveau Silver Plate Bon Bon Dish Clearance Find Item Silverplate Metal Cherub Acorn Serving Dish Candy Nut Table Display Art DecoVintage 6 1/2" Round Scalloped Side Solid Sterling Silver Candy Bowl ~ 223 Grams