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    

Signed Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver 925 Wicker Weave Candy Basket W Handle RssVintage Herend Porcelain Queen Victoria (green Border) Covered Bonbon Dish NrMackenzie Childs Christmas Tree Candy Jar - Courtly Check9 Vintage Apothecary Jar Candy Buffet Lot, Wedding, Drug Store DisplayVintage Glass Apothecary Jar Candy Bar Wedding Drugstore Display Gorgeous Lot!Lot Of 11 Vintage Glass Apothecary Drugstore Display Wedding Candy Buffet Jars Vintage/ Antique Solid Silver Hallmarked 4.5" Nut Bowl ,bon Bon Dish, Tazza 85gAntique Solid 925 Sterling Silver Ornate Bowl Elegant Bon Bon Dish 70gVtg Chinese Export Cloisonne Enamel Cloud Cherry Blossom Bird Footed Candy BowlAntique Solid 925 Sterling Silver Pair Bon Bon Bowls Dishes Fitted Case 73gAntique Black Frost & Starr Sterling Silver 925 Ornate Floral Ribbed Candy Dish Vintage Clear Glass Apothecary Jars Candy Buffet Wedding Gorgeous Lot Of 8~!!Fancy Ornate Antique Carved Floral Repousse 800 Silver Bonbon,candy,mint Bowl,6"Rare Fitz And Floyd 1987 Halloween Green Witch Candy Dish Black Bowl PlateSuperb Art Nouveau Sterling Silver Pierced Bonbon Dish Hm 1913Antique Tiffin Dakota Glass Drugstore Apothecary Candy Jar *swirll DesignAntique Silver Bon Bon / Sweet Meat Dish Sheffield 1909 Ref 1148/2Lot Set Of 2 Sterling Silver Candy Nut Dish Bowls Ornate Birmingham Glass Apothecary/candy Jar/ General Store Display Jar Lid & Silver Plated? Stand Brilliant Period Cut Lead Crystal Handle Candy Serving Dish8 Vintage Apothecary Glass Jars Candy Bathroom Wedding Buffet DisplayVintage Lot Glass Display Drugstore, Apothecary Jar, Vases Wedding Candy Buffet Fenton Spanish Lace Silver Crest Violets In Snow Candy Covered DishBarbie Grocery Set, Food, Basket Register, Scale, Kodak, Candy! Euc!!Ts 1860-80's Enameled Vaseline Cut Glass Persian Market Candy Or Nut Bowl!Silver Sweetmeat Candy Bowl Basket Israel 1960sExtra Large Gorham Leamington Sterling Silver Ribbed Candy Bon Bon Oval DishVintage Blue Carnival Glass Wicker Handles Basket"fenton?" Candy DishSterling S Kirk & Son Bon Bon / Nut Spoon Repousse W/ Fruit Bowl ~no Mono ~ NrWaterford Emerald Crystal Nut/candy Bowl, Mint In BoxLot Of 7 Vintage Glass Apothecary Display Wedding Candy Jars Gumballs Etched Ec Vintage Fostoria Ruby Red Coin Dot 1887 Covered Footed Urn Candy DishVintage Glass Apothecary Display Buffet Wedding Candy Retail Store Jar LotVintage Pat Prichard Christmas Linen Towel Set Old Fashion Candy Jars Candy CaneLot Set Of Antique Gorham A4775 Sterling Silver Candy Nut Bowls Dishes 130grAntique Tiffin Dakota Glass Drugstore Apothecary Candy Jar W/ Lid Diamond PointVintage Indiana Glass Harvest Grape Blue Carnival Glass Candy Dish Canister Jar Pretty Antique Fenton Birds & Cherries Pattern Carnival Glass Bonbon Bowl Blue 1840 Austro Hungarian Sterling Silver Bon Bon Candy Dish - Austria 19th Century Cut Glass Fruit Candy Centerpiece Bowl Antique Hobstars & Buttons Scalloped FansRomantic Vintage Crystal & Gilt Bon Bon Dish Crystal Drops Paris Chic!!Lot Of 7 Clear Decorative Glass Vintage Apothecary Jars For Candy Buffet5 Glass Apothecary Jars Wedding Baby Shower Buffet Party Candy Centerpiece2006 Christopher Radko Christmas Tree/gift Tree Candy JarVintage Fostoria Ruby Red Short Covered Candy Bowl Coin Dot 1887Antique/edwardian Pierced Silver Bon Bon Dish (sheffield 1904)Vintage Dark Blue Glass Hobnail Fenton Candy Dish GorgeousVintage Lot Apothecary Peanut Clear Glass Jars Wedding Candy Drugstore BuffetFenton Vintage Green/custard Satin Candy Dish W/lid And SignedVintage Halloween Plastic Masked Pumpkin Candy Carrying Basket Bucket ContainerEarly Dublin Design Lunt Sterling Silver Circa 1720 Nut/candy Dish 731-dVintage Tiara Amber Glass "honey Bee Candy Dish" With Lid Pristine ConditionGorgeous Traditional Hopi Indian Pottery Bowl By Artist Candy NampeyoTiara Indiana Glass Amethyst Bee Hive Honey Bee Candy Dish/box - Footed19th C. Val St. Lambert Pressed Diamond Point Flint Glass Cup Plate Candy DishBeautiful Vintage Stueben Glass Crystal Square Ashtray Candy Dish 4 1/2" PouchGreen Vaseline Glass Hen Chicken On Nest Basket Candy Dish Rooster Chick UraniumVaseline Opalescent Glass Eyewinker Pattern Candy / Jam Soap Dish Uranium YellowGorgeous Royal Albert Crown China Hand Painted Bonbon Dish Excellent ConditionNear Mint Early 1900s Vintage Reed's Patties Old General Store Candy Jar