JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Snaps® Are Back!

A little more than eight years ago, in December 2012, I wrote one of the hardest obituaries I’ve ever had to write, and believe me, I’ve written a lot of them, as a former newspaper reporter and editor. The obituary was for Snaps®.

Anyone who knows me well or remembers that blog post on December 8, 2012, knows that I loved Snaps®. It’s something I inherited from my mom. She ate them until the day she died. I know. I kept her supplied in her room at the nursing home when I went to visit. Mom didn’t call me very often — I usually called her — but when her number showed up on my caller ID, I said, “Uh-oh, Mom’s out of Snaps®. Time for a trip to Hettinger.”

So I’d go to the store, buy a bunch of them for her, and more for me, and head off to see her. Mine would usually be pretty much gone by the time I got back home.

And then Snaps® died. In late 2012, someone at the California Department of Public Health discovered they contained trace amounts of lead, and the American Licorice Co. was forced to recall them. That’s what sent me into mourning and forced me to write that obit.

But in the space of a few months, the company rejiggered the formula, took the lead out and put them back on the market. But they had a big problem. Without the lead, they were soft and mushy and no good, and they had a somewhat bitter taste instead of the sugary explosion we were accustomed to when we bit into one. I’m guessing geezers with no teeth and worn-out taste buds thought they were just fine. B ut with loyal Snaps® fans, they were a bust. The company quit making them in 2014 because nobody bought them.

(Note: I wrote in a followup blog post in April 2013 that Snaps® were back, and I was  happy, but it turned out that even though the company had put them back on the market with their new formula, my local candy company had dragged its old recalled products back onto the shelves and was selling them as the new product. When those were gone, they tried stocking the new product. I bought some but they were awful. I haven’t eaten any since then.)

But unbeknownst to me, the company figured out a way to put the original formula back on the market (sort of) and in 2018 began issuing a limited edition of the original formula (Screw you, California Department of Public Health) at Christmas, and apparently, they’ve been doing it each year since.

I discovered that by accident when I got curious about them after reading an article in this month’s North Dakota Humanities magazine by my friend Debra Marquart, who has a similar candy fixation-hers for DOTS® gumdrops. Mr. Google took me to the American Licorice Co. website for Snaps®, and sure enough, the company was bragging that it had brought back the original formula, but they were sold out. It also bragged you could buy them on Amazon, so I went there, but apparently Amazon sold out as well because they aren’t there — it’s the only thing in the world you can’t buy from Jeff Bezos today. So I went searching on some other retail websites, and sure enough, I found them on the site for a company called The Bulk Store, which had a supply, though limited, of last Christmas’s issue, available in 12-ounce bags. Here’s the promo pitch on its website:

“Are you familiar with SNAPS? If so, then you’ll be happy to know that we have Original Formula SNAPS just for you! These classic chewy candies first came on the candy scene in 1930, and have been pleasing sweet tooth cravings ever since! The licorice center and bright exterior colors are sure to bring smiles to lots of faces, with the original formula tasting as good as you remember. Contains 1(one) 12-ounce bag of Original Formula SNAPS A perfect nostalgic treat This is a limited edition item in extremely short supply so buying quantities are limited to 6 bags per customer.

“The Original Snaps are back! Snaps fans will fondly remember the classic chewy black licorice centers with a colorful pastel candy coating; These bite size, chewy licorice pieces were first made by the American Licorice Co. in the 1930s, and are still beloved today!; Each 12-ounce bag contains about 9 servings (225 candy pieces), plenty for sharing during the holidays, or after a meal with family & friends; Snaps are the perfect treat for an old fashioned candy dish or to add a nostalgic nod to your next party; Keep the tradition alive and share a big bag of Original Snaps candy with the ones you love & inspire new generations of Snaps fans!”

WOW! I’ve bought a lot of Snaps® in my day, but never 12 ounces at a time. So I ordered three bags. They arrived Thursday. I’m in Heaven. They are indeed the original formula, with the original flavor and texture. I don’t know how the company is getting away with it, but it is.

I foolishly bragged to Lillian before I started eating them that I now had a lifetime supply of Snaps®. That was dumb. What I have, I think, is a supply to get me through to September, when the 2021 Christmas supply should go on sale. (Hint for anyone wanting to buy me a Christmas present this year.)

Oh, one other thing. You can’t buy Snaps® candy from the American Licorice Co., but you can buy a Snaps® blanket for just $44.99. Go ahead. Get one. I ordered mine. If you get yours, we can go camping together and sit by the fire, all snuggled up in our Snaps® blankets, and drink wine and eat licorice. That’s about as close to Heaven as you can come on Earth.

I know this all sounds kind of trivial, but y’know, when you’re 73 years old, almost 74, I figure a little more lead can’t do much more damage to this old body, and it’s the little things …

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