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 Glass Drugstore Display Wedding Apothecary Candy Bar Buffet Jar Lot SetBeautiful Antique Japanese Woven Silver Baskets Meiji Handmade Bon Bon DishVintage Halloween Atlas/indiana Glass Candy Dish/jar, Witches On Brooms & BatsRare Boxed 1961 Special One Off Wade Guinness Bon Bon / Peanut Dishes Bowls Vintage Glass Drugstore Display Wedding Apothecary Candy Bar Buffet Jar Lot SetCobalt Blue Fenton Holly Ruffled Compote / Candy Dish Carnival GlassAmythest Purple Red Fenton Holly Ruffled Compote / Candy Dish Carnival Glass~ Vintage 7 Piece Gorham Cromwell Sterling Silver Candy Nut Bowls Dishes ~Vintage Fiesta Fiestaware Turquoise Pedestal Candy Dish Compote Homer LaughlinAntiq T&v Limoges France Pedestal Candy Dish Compote Hand Painted Violets GoldClear Glass Wedding Reception Candy Apothecary Jar Display Buffet Lot 6Vintage Clear Glass Apothecary Jars Candy Buffet Wedding Gorgeous Lot Of 8~!!Green Fenton Holly Ruffled Compote / Candy Dish Carnival GlassRare~antique~tiny 4 1/2" Dakota Jar~candy~apothocary~salesman Sample~show GlobeGorham Sterling Silver / Green Glass Covered Candy Dish Bowl JarVintage Glass Apothecary Jar Candy Bar Wedding Drugstore Display Gorgeous Lot!Vintage Estate Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Candy Ring DishFenton Chessie 1988 Electric Blue Candy Jar9sy Japanese Vintage Lacquered Wood Kashiki Candy Bowl Tea Article Gold Gilt BoxPhilosophy Candy Cane Salt Body Scrub 23 Oz Jar SealedSolid Sterling Silver Elkington 1923 313.72g Raised Bowl Or Bon Bon Dish Gorham Sterling Silver / Purple Glass Covered Candy Dish Bowl JarLalique France Crystal Four Frosted Bird Pedestal Candy Dish / CompoteSusan Winget Black Cat Halloween Serving Candy Chips Bowl Dish Scary ExcellentVintage Big Lance Glass Cracker Candy Store Display Jar Canister Red Metal LidAntique Russian Sterling Silver 875 Niello&gilded Basket,bowl Candy SugarVintage Sterling Silver Kirk & Son Repousse Compote Candy Bon Bon Bowl W SpoonNoritake Azalea Rare #313 Covered Candy JarSolid Silver Bon Bon / Nut Dish Birmingham Joseph Gloster 19431950's Murano Venetian Green & Blue Art Glass Candy Dish/bowl-simply Beautiful Dept 56 Frankenstein Candy Dish, Gorgeous!Elegant Vintage Cambridge Rose Point Covered Candy Dish 3900/165Vintage Hazel Atlas Fired On Orange Glass Halloween Witch Candy Bowl No LidFitz And Floyd Halloween Harvest Screech Owl Witch Covered Candy Dish 1995 RareAntique Art Deco Robj Paris France Figural Candy JarRare Signed Lalique France Crystal Koi Fish Bowl Bonbon Dish Cigar Ashtray Nr!!!Rare Lime Green Indiana Iridized Carnival Glass Hen On Nest / Basket Candy DishVery Cute Pierced Gorham Sterling Silver Candy Basket Bowl No Reserve Price 1$Snoopy Peanuts Charlie Brown Determined Productions Ceramic Candy Dish 1977Iridescent Marigold Fenton Holly Ruffled Compote / Candy Dish Carnival GlassSigned Sterling Weighted Silver 925 Antique Vintage Sugar Candy Bowl 1238Fenton French Opalescent Diamond Lace Covered Footed Comport Candy JarFitz And Floyd Fall/harvest Thanksgiving Pumpkin Candy Dish W/lidVista Alegre Va Portugal Gilded Duck Candy Dish - See PicturesFostoria, Candy Dish With Lid, Blue, Depression/elegant GlassHartland By Simon Pearce Candy Dish Martini Glass Hand Studio Blown Made In UsaVintage Fenton Art Glass Hobnail Milk Glass Pedestal Candy Dish W/ Lid! Lovely!Good Rare 9" ~ Georgian ~ Silver Plated ~ Wired Bon-bon Basket ~ C1800Vintage Hazel Atlas Fired On Orange Witch With Bats Ghosts Moon Candy BowlVintage 3 Tier Candy Dish Indiana Glass With Lid 4-piece Diamond Design HeavyAntique Solid Silver Oval Swing Handled Bon Bon Dish,turner Bradbury London 1897Antique Cut Crystal Sterling Silver Trinket Box Lg Jewelry Case Candy Dish 6"Antique Gorham Sterling Silver Valintine Heart Candy Dish Nut Bowl, 3.52 Troy OzVintage Ruby Red Fostoria Crown Lidded Candy Dish Hapsburg PatternVintage Fostoria Ruby Red Coin Glass Candy Dish Frosted 1887 Eagle Liberty BellVtg. Signed Plumeria J #004 Hawaiian Candy Tidbit Bowl Dish By Dorothy OkumotoHerend Rothschild Candy Dish ~ Bowl With HandleVintage Green Depression Candy Jar W/lid Princess By Anchor Hocking 1931-1935Fenton Hand Painted Blue Candy DishSharon Cabbage Rose Pink Candy Dish Federal Depression Glass Excellent Cond