The 1980s were a good time for candy in the United States. Skittles came to the U.S. from Great Britain and Sour Patch Kids crossed the border from Canada. Beich's Caramels became Laffy Taffy, our favorite taffy candy. But one of the best kinds of fruit candy to show up in the 80s was Airheads Candy, a brightly-colored product with a delightful chewiness similar to a starburst and more satisfying than a hard candy.
The chewy candy with a giant smiling red balloon on the package was created in 1985 by candy company Perfetti Van Melle and the chewy chew of Airheads has been popular ever since (even if they make the bottom of some Halloween candy rankings).
The first Airheads Candy flavor was red. No, really. Steve Bruner, who invented Airheads taffy said that the East Coast liked strawberry while the middle of the country liked cherry, so: "When we launched it we started with just one item in a 24-count box. It was a bright deep red wrapper. We did not call it cherry or strawberry just simply Airheads. We wanted the consumer to decide if they liked the red flavor."
When the red candy was a hit, they expanded into other fruity flavors. And over the years, Van Melle has introduced other kinds of Airheads Candy, including Airheads Gummies, Airheads Bubble Gum and Airheads Xtremes. Or if sour candy is more your thing, you can try Airheads Xtremes Sourfuls. The soft candy bar comes in fun size mini bars, too, called Airheads Bites and Airheads Soft FIlled Bites.
Your favorite Airheads flavor probably depends on if you agree that red and purple are flavors. Here is our completely subjective ranking of Airheads candy flavors.
Airheads Candy Flavors
6. Green Apple
4. Rainbow Berry (Airheads Xtremes and Airheads Xtremes Bites)
3. Red (Cherry and Strawberry)
2. Blue Raspberry
1. White Mystery
Why is the mystery flavor the best? Because you never know what you'll get! In fact, the mystery flavor is just a big bar of regular taffy without the color added. The flavor comes from whatever artificial flavor is left over at the end of a production run, so you might get Watermelon, but you might also get a mix of Blue Raspberry and Cherry. I can't think of a better party favor, and why get a variety pack when you can have flavor combos in each bite?
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This post was originally published on November 16, 2020.