Ben Hur Candies

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SusieLewes
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2006/02/23 00:42:15 (permalink)

Ben Hur Candies

I used to buy BEN HUR candies in Reading, PA at the Fairgrounds Square Mall. It was a candy and bulk goods store, but sadly the last time I was there 3-5 years ago, they no longer carried the Ben Hur grey squares, but they did carry the licorice ones (YUCK!!!) I wanted the ashen grey ones! I have been on a search for years now, and I don't know who every made them, but I am told a Candy Manufacturer in Reading, PA. If anyone knows anything, my ears are WIDE OPEN!!!
#1

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    6star
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2006/02/23 01:15:13 (permalink)
    This is as close as you are probably going to be able to get:

    Anise mints ("Gray, anise-flavored mint, similar to the old "Ben Hur" candy. A nostalgic favorite since the 50's.")

    Item Number: hfca194 - 1 lb. Bag - $4.00 Each

    http://www.hometownfavorites.com/shop/candy_cat_js.asp?abc=1&char=A&id=18

    On another site:

    "Whatever Happened to Ben Hur's, Easy Aces, Licorice Easy Aces and Somerset Mix?"

    "Well, this is another one of those sad candy stories.

    All of these products and more were all made by a wonderful company on the East Coast called Wunderle (footnote, Wunderle was the inventor of candy corn in the mid 1800's). Wunderle was bought out by another company, Heidi. In a move that I never understood, Heidi then stopped production on most of Wunderle's wonderful and unusual product lines.

    Somewhere out there, someone has the recipe book and the equipment to bring all of these great candies back, we can only dream.

    Isn't it interesting that Candy companies eat each other instead of the Candy. Heehee"
    #2
    jim2649
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2006/02/25 14:59:02 (permalink)

    I have been on a mission to find BEN HUR candy too. I live in Scranton PA area and I found the candy about 5 years ago, but now it looks hopeless?. I will take a ride one of these weeks to Reading in hopes of a BEN HUR find . As far as a sub, I don't recall the grey square BEN HUR having any tast of licorice.

    Anyone tried the ones from www.hometownfavorites.com ?
    #3
    stormi1
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2006/03/14 17:27:56 (permalink)
    hi,
    I am also looking for Ben Hur candy 9or as we called them cen-cens ( not the current sen-sends that you can buy). Please let me know if you ever find out where I can order some. I am from the Poconos and miss them terribly.

    #4
    SusieLewes
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2006/03/14 17:46:33 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by jim2649


    I have been on a mission to find BEN HUR candy too. I live in Scranton PA area and I found the candy about 5 years ago, but now it looks hopeless?. I will take a ride one of these weeks to Reading in hopes of a BEN HUR find . As far as a sub, I don't recall the grey square BEN HUR having any tast of licorice.

    Anyone tried the ones from www.hometownfavorites.com ?
    #5
    SusieLewes
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2006/03/14 17:49:06 (permalink)
    I think we might as well give up the search! The anise type candy that was similar looking to the Ben Hurs have no taste anything like them. I think the owner of the original maker should get that recipe to another candy manufacturer and pronto! They can't make us suffer like this!
    #6
    PolishBear
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2006/12/22 11:18:55 (permalink)
    I there is any one candy that I’ve obsessed more about over the years, it’s Ben Hurs. Believe it or not, I’ve got a little handful of these candies stuck away in my freezer. Once in a blue moon I’ll eat one, even though they’ve turned a little green with age.

    I first discovered Ben Hurs 30-40 years ago, when I was a kid, and our family would go visit my grandparents up in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania. Little corner grocery stores were common at the time in Nanticoke, and often they sold a wide variety of candies. Ben Hurs were sold in bulk by weight. In appearance they were similar in shape to a square after-dinner mint, but they were of a dark grey color.

    How to describe the taste? Although they are classified in the anise/licorice category, the taste was closer to candied ginger. Some people would call them Sen-Sen, and indeed the flavor is similar to that. Ben Hurs were definitely an acquired taste. Words like “soapy” and “floral” have be used to describe them.

    My research indicates that a company called Wunderle originally produced Ben Hurs in the early 20th century. Wunderle, by the way, was the company that first gave us Candy Corn! That company was later bought by another candy company called Heidi, which itself was eventually absorbed by Hershey. Perhaps somewhere in a dusty old vault or file cabinet in Hershey, Pennsylvania, is the original recipe for Ben Hurs, but I’ve gotten no response to my inquiries to the Hershey company.

    There was a company called Dutch Maid Bakery in Tracy City, Tennessee, that sold Ben Hurs as recently as the mid 1990s, but eventually their stock ran out (party because I purchased a few pounds of the candy from them!). I’d be willing to bet that I’m in possession of the very last Ben Hurs in existence. The flavor has faded a bit.
    #7
    DonnaB
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/03/23 15:41:26 (permalink)
    I now live in Delaware but I grew up in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania and can still taste the Ben-Hurs when I think of them. About 10 years ago while visiting relatives, I stopped into Diamond's Candy Store on Broad Street and bought a huge bag of them because the owner told me they had been discontinued! I have no idea why but all of a sudden while sitting here at my desk at work I am craving Ben-Hurs. We have GOT to find the recipe!!!!
    #8
    BTB
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/03/25 10:37:30 (permalink)
    I didn't know there were others like me out there. Boy, do I miss Ben Hurs. I, too, several years ago tried to track down sources and information on them. One specialty candy source emailed me back indicating -- like many of you here -- that the company had gone out of business and no one makes them anymore. That has got to be the crime of the century. Like most things, I bet the recipe is relatively simple. Hopefully great minds can get together and figure it out.
    #9
    febejean
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/04/18 15:46:45 (permalink)
    The closest I have come to the favor of Ben Hurs is Choward's scented gum. It really has that unique flavor. I found the gum at "Dylan's Candy Store" in the Galleria Mall in Houston.
    #10
    patmic
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/06/23 01:12:37 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by SusieLewes

    I think we might as well give up the search! The anise type candy that was similar looking to the Ben Hurs have no taste anything like them. I think the owner of the original maker should get that recipe to another candy manufacturer and pronto! They can't make us suffer like this!
    #11
    patmic
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/06/23 01:35:43 (permalink)
    You used to be able to get Ben Hurs at Gertrude Hawk's as well. I'm from Dunmore and I remember going to the original Gertrude Hawk's on Drinker street to pick them up. I have probably asked 40 or 50 clerks in every candy specialty store from Scranton to Philadelphia over the last decade with no success. Like thousands of other products, they simply have gone away. I would love to get my hands on the recipe which is undoubtedly sitting in a vault somewhere. Some websites list Wunderlee as the holder of the recipe which is no longer in existance. "Just Born" in the Allentown area now make the candy corns which were originally made by Wunderlee but the only hits on the web about ben hurs are just blogs. The only people who say that the "Anise Mints" are just like the originals are the people who make them. Haven't met anyone who loves the substitute. Contace me at patgeneric@hotmail.com
    #12
    indian33
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/07/18 15:14:16 (permalink)
    I, too, used to LOVE the original grayish Ben Hurs. I grew up in Dallastown, York County, PA and would get the candy at the 5 & 10 in town every Friday before going to the movie theater. They also made a lilac-colored candy the tasted like violets and were the same square shape as ben hurs. I think they were my favorite. I've tried to make a tea reminiscent of the flavor. Wish me luck!!
    #13
    patmic
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/07/21 11:21:26 (permalink)
    A woman I work with has suggested that I am going about this the wrong way. I have tortured this woman with the stories of how these candies were in deed the greatest product ever created. I'm going on more than 10 years embellishing her with these accounts and she has actually been helpful. She is a great baker and has made everything from candy to peanut brittle and everything has been fantastic. She suggested trying to get everyone simply interested in coming up with a few recipes and trying to duplicate or at least make something comparable. Worse case scenario is that it's just as bad as the "substitutes" being sold on the internet but if enough people keep in touch and exchange different attempts (and failures) in their own kitchens, you may be able to come up with a product you can create yourself. I can not believe there's not even a few people who at least worked there and are familiar with the ingredients. I'm all for letter writing but everyone I know who has contacted Hershey's and Just Born have all said they received no response. The recipe is not going to be given out to anyone but since we all have access to the same ingredients, why not attempt something. Anyone interested, please email me. patgeneric@hotmail.com
    #14
    mbkotlare
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/09/16 14:02:53 (permalink)
    When I was in younger :) I used to purchase Ben Hurs at a candy shop located in downtown Detroit. I LOVED THEM ~ they were addictive! The candy shop closed many years ago, and I have been searching to locate the candy at any/all candy shops, with no success. I, too, recently found Howard's Scented Gum, which has almost the same taste. But because the texture is different, it's just not the same. Based on all the comments from everyone, I think it's as close as we're going to get.
    #15
    mauser
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/09/18 20:32:03 (permalink)
    I used to live in Harrisburg Pa, and could get ben hurs in most of the local department store candy counters. The last time I remember getting any was in the mid 80's at a Boscovs store. These were my favorite candy of all time, and I haven't foumd anything that even comes close. It figures the Hershey corp. would have a hand in ruining yet another great old product. Have you eaten a Cadbury chocolate bar lately? Yuk! They ruined switzers black licorice years ago!
    #16
    MartyK
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/12/07 23:54:43 (permalink)
    I am also a freak for the candy we always called sen sens( aka Ben Hurs). The last place I bought them was at Quaker Square in Akron, OH about 15 years ago. The good news is I just found some in a tin in the cupboard. It has to be possible, in this day and age, for someone to either deconstruct it or reverse engineer it to come up with the recipe. They can't be that difficult to make. I imagine the main base product is fine confectioners sugar with the proper amount of anise/liquorice flavoring and then pour it into a mold of some sorts. Possibly a modified bake sheet with stainless steel dividers. And something to create those fine lines across the top. Then simply empty the mold and let them crack at each division. We need a food industry chemical engineer to take one of mine and create the recipe. I bet the people at NECCO could do it. Have you ever had the black wafers out of the variety pack? They are a little finer sugar consistency-wise, but halfway to a sen sen candy manufacturing-wise. I have the real McCoys in my possesion. All is not lost.
    #17
    iqdiva
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/12/08 00:22:55 (permalink)
    I found some !
    http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&keywords=Ben-Hur&rh=i%3Agourmet%2Ck%3ABen-Hur&page=1
    #18
    matilda
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/12/08 00:33:25 (permalink)
    Not to be a wet blanket, but, the reviews, all two of them, on that site are unfavorable. Just pointing it out.
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    patmic
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/12/08 00:51:31 (permalink)
    You're right. Both reviews are terrible. But, Teresa from Pittston has contacted Hershey's, who gave her the name of the company who they sold a group of candies to, with the Ben Hurs being in that group. I contacted them and they confirmed they did indeed have the recipe for the candy but producing it is very expensive and "..... not in line with the pricing of their other products..." They had no plans to bring it back to the market in the near future but they would take our interest to their product development people, etc. etc. Teresa was going to send them the comments from this blog to help spark a fire for them. Every bit helps. But I sent her a few recipes that I have found for similar tasting products, with the hope of some of us trying them out on our own and sharing the results. Your idea of taking that candy and breaking it down for the contents is the best news any of us have probably heard yet. It would be great if someone can do it. Keep me posted. patgeneric@hotmail.com
    #20
    iqdiva
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/12/08 00:55:43 (permalink)
    I'm sorry...Just trying to help.
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    patmic
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/12/08 01:09:48 (permalink)
    Don't be sorry! Every single idea helps. When I first saw those anise mints I thought I struck gold, until other blogs were even less kind about their taste. I am new to this site, with this being only my fifth posting. I have been on other sites over the past few years and have learned more and more with each year. In one short week a few months ago we were able to track down the company and make contact with them, only to get shot down in the nicest way possible. In my email I asked if there was a way to get hold of the ingredients (even to offer to buy the recipe if it were for sale). While they didn't say no, they did thank us for our interest. Don't be sorry. I would love nothing more than to work with any idea anyone has in here to bring the product back or make something very similar ourselves. I can email anyone with the ingredients for similar candy that I got over the years. They do vary depending on the product. patgeneric@hotmail.com
    #22
    iqdiva
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/12/08 09:44:15 (permalink)
    Thank you patmic.....
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    WValleyWest
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/12/14 17:22:10 (permalink)
    iqdiva....

    Saw those a few years ago, bought 5 pounds, Knew they were the ones!

    They were not. 100% licorice. They sat in the cupboard for about 3 months, and got all stuck together into one massive 5 pound licorice ball. YECCH! Tossed them (it) out.

    Man, I thought I found the "National Treasure".

    Still looking.... we called them Sim-Sims from the area I came from, Luzerne County.

    The store owner used to put them in this little brown bag for you.

    Dan
    #24
    WValleyWest
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/12/14 17:36:25 (permalink)
    MartyK claims to have them in posession!
    He should Ebay them.....one at a time!

    Hard to believe no one makes them anymore.

    You could never lie to your parents if they asked if you had candy before dinner. Remember the black toungue!
    Dan
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    matilda
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/12/14 19:20:33 (permalink)
    Here's something on Sen-Sen:
    http://www.fffoods.com/products/sensen.html
    and another:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sen-Sen
    #26
    WValleyWest
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/12/14 19:29:10 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by matilda

    Here's something on Sen-Sen:
    http://www.fffoods.com/products/sensen.html
    and another:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sen-Sen


    Matilda,
    sen-sens are not the item we are looking for. similar name, but the real trouble is that everyone knew them (the real deal) by different names, i.e. sim-sims, Ben-Hurs, cen-cens, sem-sems, etc. Thanks though.

    Perhaps we should start a petition page!
    Anyone know how?

    Dan
    #27
    matilda
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/12/14 19:39:44 (permalink)
    Yeah, it was more for the interesting story of a seemingly similar candy. To cover up liquor and tobacco breath. Interesting. There was I site that someone here had said almost verbatim here on the subject of Ben-Hur's that I saw. I believe it was called candyaddict.com. I knew it was OT a bit, but interesting along the vein of conversation. I don't care for licorice at all personally.
    Unless it's red and that's not licorice!! LOL!
    #28
    WValleyWest
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/12/14 22:31:42 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by matilda

    Yeah, it was more for the interesting story of a seemingly similar candy. To cover up liquor and tobacco breath. Interesting. There was I site that someone here had said almost verbatim here on the subject of Ben-Hur's that I saw. I believe it was called candyaddict.com. I knew it was OT a bit, but interesting along the vein of conversation. I don't care for licorice at all personally.
    Unless it's red and that's not licorice!! LOL!


    Hmmm, I wonder if the chocolate twislers (sp) qualify ?? Those I like.

    Yea, I have seen this topic before, Every so often I retry my search.

    Take Care.
    Dan

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    MartyK
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    RE: Ben Hur Candies 2007/12/14 23:06:47 (permalink)
    I DON'T CLAIM, I HAVE! I TOOK A PHOTO OF TWO OF THEM BUT CAN'T FIGURE OUT HOW TO POST IT. IF ANYONE WOULD LIKE TO SEE IT EMAIL ME AT martysclassicmach@yahoo.com
    #30
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