Chicken Dinner Candy Truck, Milwaukee, WI 1956

Pickup truck with a giant chicken on it

A giant chicken nests on a pick-up truck parked in front of a Chrysler-Plymouth dealer. Behind it in the window a coral ’56 Chrysler Windsor is on display. What the Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile is to Oscar Meyer the Chicken Dinner Candy Truck is to Chicken Dinner Candy.

Yes, there really was a candy called “Chicken Dinner Candy.” It must’ve been something like eating sweet chicken bullion. The Sperry Candy Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin manufactured the odd candy. Even with its rusty chrome wheel cover the colorful one-of-a-kind pick-up promoted the candy better than any billboard could as it drove around town making promotion stops. Color-wise, the fender skirted, turquoise and yellow two-toned truck is a stark contrast to the hot pink chicken perched on top like a camper. Perhaps the big bird was stocked with the sweet treat and the wings flapped up to create shade for the window to buy the candy.

Whatever happened to this strange candy, this time it was made, who concocted it and where is this truck now? Was it vegetarian or was there chicken in it? I wish I could tell you. Mmmmm.

Speaking of Candy, one of Southern California’s sweetest holiday traditions continues nightly this holiday season until December 23rd at Logan’s Candies, in my hometown of Ontario. Since 1933 they’ve been making hand-made candy canes. The mesmerizing ritual takes place in full view of the customers. Watching candy canes being made is hypnotic. They range from 6″ to 16′ and are priced between one and one-thousand dollars. Also while you’re there make sure to stock up on some of their psychedelic colored ribbon candy. They’re also made right there. The old neon sign out front isn’t bad either.

Logan’s Candies is at 125 W. B St., Ontario, 909-984-5410.

Here’s to Chicken Dinner Candy, Logan’s Candy Canes and You!

View more great vintage slides of Americana!

32 Responses to “Chicken Dinner Candy Truck, Milwaukee, WI 1956”

  1. Dean Milano says:

    I don’t remember ever eating the Chicken Dinner candy bars, but I do remember the trucks back in the ’50s. For some reason, I remember seeing several of them in a parking lot on Forest Home Ave near 51st Street or thereabouts.

  2. john gormley says:

    Chicken Dinner was my favorite candy bar 1927-1930 at which time I moved from Montello St.,Brocton,MA. To Rochester,NY–never saw one again,and I am now 89 and been around a bit. Wish I had saved a wrapper!

  3. sylvia says:

    I used to love the Chicken Dinner candy bars. Will they ever bring them back? I think they would sell well.

  4. [...] Charles Phoenix » Blog Archive » Chicken Dinner Candy Truck,Rowntree’s created what would be one of the most popular candy bars in the world, the KitKat, in 1935. In the same year they also created … The Nestle Tex was launched around 1956 and combines the aerated chocolate of the Aero bar and the crispy filled wafers of the KitKat. I don’t know how the bar got the name Tex. [...]

  5. The Brass Rooster says:

    My wife and I are opening a Traditional Mens Hat & Accessory shop in the old Avalon Theatre building on KK called The Brass Rooster. We would LOVE to get one of these old trucks. If anyone knows where one might be hiding PLEASE let me know. BrassRooster@mail.com

  6. James Rothwell says:

    This truck was sitting on the south side of La Crosse several years ago – I believe it was bought by a collector – it was my understanding there was a list of people wanting to buy it. I have a picture taken here if you’re interested.

  7. I have a photo of three Chicken Dinner trucks at San Francisco’s Playland at the Beach around 1931 on Ford Model A trucks. I need some help identifying the date.
    Jim

  8. Dawn Holden says:

    Nice to see so many folks bringing up the Denver Sandwich. My 84-year-old mother has talked about this my entire life — very longingly I might add. She can recount the rich combination of ingredients as if she ate one yesterday. I periodically do online research to see if I can find anything more as time passes but not much is written. In fact, for the longest my siblings and I joked that mom had made the whole thing up. Then, about 4 years back, I Googled it again and found an antique dealer who was selling one of the display boxes that held a case of 24 of them for a dime-store candy display (candy was long gone, just the pristine display box). I had it shadowbox framed for her 80th birthday and it’s probably the most enthusiastically received gift she’s ever gotten. Even had a coworker who specializes in desserts try to recreate the Denver Sandwich in her test kitchen, based on how mom describes it. We failed. So if anyone EVER finds that recipe, count me in !!

  9. Paul Zeien says:

    I never heard of the Sperry Candy Co., or the Chicken Dinner candy bar. But in 2008 I purchased an old 1955 Ford truck with a flatbed on the back for $60.00. It had sat in a field at the edge of some woods for 29 years, and was very badly rusted. Very little was left in any useable condition. The hood had a faint image of the word “chicken” on it. I kept the front bumper and grille guard to install on my own 1955 truck. When I went to sand off the black paint on the bumper, the words “chicken dinner” started showing up as I sanded. So I stopped sanding and kept the words showing. I recently researched the advertising of chicken dinners on old ford trucks, and came across a postcard from 1956 of the fleet of “chicken” trucks. From what I can deduce, someone had purchased one of the chicken trucks, removed the sheet metal chicken from the back and installed a flatbed to use the truck on a farm. I now proudly display the bumper and grille guard on my truck, and share the unique story with all my friends.

  10. RJ says:

    Any luck with the recipe for the Denver Sandwich Candy Bar? Would love to give this recipe to my mom as it was also her favorite as a child.

  11. Karen Bauer says:

    My mother also remembers the Denver Sandwich Candy Bar. Did anyone find a recipe for this candy bar?
    Karen

  12. BETTY JONES says:

    I SAW AN OLD SIGN FOR SPERRY CHICKEN CANDY BAR AT A RESTURANT- CRACKER BARREL – IN LA.

  13. Ericka says:

    Jane Kuehn – Did you ever find a recipe that could recreat the Denver Sandwich Candy Bar? I am also looking for something similiar….

  14. Joel B says:

    Another “chicken candy” is Chick-O-Stick, which has been made by Atkinson Candy Co. of Lufkin, TX since the 1930s. I remember eating Chick-O-Sticks as a little kid in the ’60s, and wondering if they were really made from chickens. There was a cartoon chicken with a cowboy hat on the wrapper back then. Actually, Chick-O-Sticks are made from peanut butter and toasted coconut, and are very addictive! Here is a link to Atkinson’s web site where they explain the chicken connection. http://www.atkinsoncandy.com/fun/stories.asp?storyid=4

  15. Doug Stanley says:

    We had a band called The Fabulous Matadors in MIlwaukee and used an old Chicken Dinner truck like the one in the photo to haul our equipment around. It probably rusted away years ago. I, however, did not and The Fabulous Matadors just put together a CD of our old songs from 1963.
    ROCK ON !!

  16. Jane Kuehn says:

    Does anyone have a receipe for the Denver Sandwich Candy Bar? My 91 year old mother-in-law said that this was her favorite candy bar growing up and she would save and just nibble on the candy bar to make it last a long time. I thought that it would be a nice surprize it I could try to recreate one for her.

  17. john gaither says:

    Was a outstanding candy bar when I was a kid 1938 1948 I liked them more than any other at the time

  18. Glorian Venison says:

    I am looking for information about the discontinued Denver Sandwich candy bar. This was my husband’s favorite candy bar when he was growing up and I am trying to find … well maybe a candy wrapper or something I can give him as a reminder of his childhood days and his favorite candy.

    I would really appreciate any information anyone can give me about where I can possibly find either a candy wrapper or something similar.

    Thanks!

  19. deborah says:

    I would like to know if they still make the Chicken Dinner candy bar. If so where canI order it

  20. gene liotta says:

    can i buy any chicken role candy ?

  21. Tom Seebach says:

    My Dad bought one of these trucks in 1959 for our restaurant – Champion Chicken. We used the original chicken from the Sperry Candy company truck until last year. We had a cast of it made and it was reproduced in fiberglass. It has been the talk of Milwaukee for years. If you email me, I would love to send you pictures of our old chicken truck and our new chicken truck. There are also some pictures on our website – championchicken.com – click on the truck link on the bottom of the page.
    Also, if anyone has any other pictures of the old Sperry Candy trucks, I would love to have them. I am trying to get a collection of the various trucks for our walls. I would love to hear from you.
    Thanks!

  22. Susan says:

    Hi Mr.Phoenix,
    Is there any way I could get a picture of this
    and send it to my day. He did own all four of these trucks after Sperry went out of business.
    He is 85 now and I would love to give him a picture of this. Thanks!

  23. Sue says:

    My father, Norb, worked for Sperry and drove me to school in one of these trucks everyday. There were 4 of them. Chick dinner candy bars
    were chocolate covered caramel with peanuts in them. Yes, there were boxes of samples in these trucks as well. As I was dropped off at school, kids would wait for samples.
    When Sperry candy company when out of business, My dad bought all four trucks and sold them for $400.00. At that time, I do believe he thought he made a big profit.
    Thanks for the memories. I was so surprised to see our Chicken Dinner truck on the web.

  24. D Hollenbaugh says:

    for lawrence lightfield i have some very old items from Sperry candy company and need some info, email me at hturtle56@aol.com i cannot find anyone who knows much about the company.

  25. Bea says:

    I have a chicken truck from the candy company mounted on a Ford pickup. I have a postcard of the truck as it appears here, a box that held candy bars and a few other small items

  26. Russ Sifers says:

    I just received a Denver Sandwich bar wrapper today and it has The Redel Candy Corp., Milwaukee, WIS. as the manufacturer. I have not been able to find anything about The Redel Candy Corp.

  27. Lawrence M. Lightfield says:

    The Sperry Candy company originated in Elkhorn, WI. in the upstairs of a cafe owned by my grandfather Glen Sperry and his brother. The names of the candy bars came from items off the menu of the cafe, thus the Chicken Dinner, Denver Sandwich, Cold Turkey, & Club Sandwich. My grandfather kept the cafe and my great uncle moved the candy company to Milwaukee.

  28. Trish says:

    Hmmmm. I wonder which came first, the chicken or the truck?

    RIP Jerry

  29. clyde todd says:

    was great to see picture of the chicken dinner truck really brought back memories of when i was a kid always trying to get free samples when it came to or corner grocer

  30. catherine masden says:

    no commett

  31. JMartin says:

    One of the early nut rolls, the Chicken Dinner bar was introduced by the Sperry Candy Company in the early 1920s, and its first wrappers carried the drawing of a roasted chicken. The unusual name was meant to echo the feeling of well-being and prosperity associated with “a chicken in every pot”—a slogan that went back to Henry IV of France and which would be revived for the 1928 Republican campaign. Fleets of Model A trucks disguised as giant, sheet-metal chickens were used by the Sperry people to deliver their creation. The makers took an amazingly long time to discover that a roast chicken didn’t convey the image of candy to most people, but at last, several years after the bar’s debut, the picture of the chicken was dropped from the wrapper. Sperry stuck with the name, however, and it is a tribute to the bar’s quality that it surmounted that obstacle for some forty years before finally disappearing in the 1960s.

  32. Katie says:

    Upon further research the Chicken Dinner candy was actually an early nut roll bar according to American Heritage magazine. The Sperry Candy co also manufactured other mouth-watering creations such as the denver sandwich, cold turkey’s and the club sandwich candies. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.

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