Aztec Bars, Secret Bars and Spangles


Sweets and chocolate have been a staple part of the British diet for around 200 years. Of course some sweets have been around for longer, but that is a blog for another day. During the reign of sweets and chocolate we have seen great changes in trends for our favourite treats. Some confectionery has stayed the course of time, but some have seemingly disappeared forever.

Some sweets and chocolate are made for a limited time period, or made to commemorate a special event. We only have to look back as far as 2012 to find an example of this. I’m sure we all remember the novelty Olympic chocolates?

Aero has been around since the 1930s, but who remembers Strawberry flavoured Aero? Some limited edition sweet and chocolates of the past have included Caramel and Cream Rolos and Tiramisi Kit Kats – both of these I learnt about from a snack enthusiast on Twitter by the name of @kevvieguy.

Working in the world of confectionery I often have customers enquire if I know what happened to their favourite sweet treat. This time I have gone on a quest to find out what happened to Aztec Bars, Secret Bars and Spangles.

Aztec Bars were launched in 1967 by Cadbury as answer to Mars Bars. Mars Bars had been on the market and sweet shop counter since 1932 and Cadbury wanted in on the fun of the Mars Bar “work, rest, play” ethos. Aztec Bars were made up of nougatine, caramel and milk chocolate. The best bit was that the milk chocolate covering the inside contents was Cadburys milk chocolate. The worst bit was the advertising, it could not rival Mars. Aztec Bar advertising was filmed in a real Aztec temple and during the late 60s and early 70s a cardboard cut out of an Aztec warrior could be found in supermarkets advertising this delightful bar.

Aztec was half a penny cheaper (old money) than its Mars Bar equivalent. Sadly even saving the half pennies couldn’t save Aztec Bars and they were discontinued in 1978. They were briefly bought back from the chocolate archives and childhood memories for a revival for the turn of the millennium, sadly this was very brief, and once again Aztec Bars have gone to the retirement home for confectionery.

Secret Bars was a chocolate bar that a dear friend asked me to track down. I was absolutely mortified when I realised that Secret Bars were kept apparently secret from my childhood. At this point I am addressing my parents and grandparents, “Why was I not fed this chocolate bar?”

According to my research Secret Bars were wrapped in gold wrappers, with purple writing on them. It was made by Cadbury and was similar in texture to Walnut Whip. Described as being as being ‘birds nest style chocolate with a creamy mousse centre.’ The advert is still available to be seen on YouTube – They were discontinued due to a high production cost and low sales.  There is a Facebook campaign you can join to bring them back. The page is called ‘Bring Back SECRET chocolate bar.’

Spangles were manufactured by Mars Ltd and their lifespan began in the 1950s and ended in 1984. These sweets led an interesting life, they were introduced whilst rationing were still on and rather brilliantly they only cost half the amount of ration coupons as other sweets. For those of you who have not met a Spangle, they looked a bit like Tune lozenges and were originally made in basic fruit flavours.

The best thing about Spangles was that they were versatile and kept reinventing themselves. The original fruity flavours spawned more exotic flavours included Acid Drop, Butterscotch and Fizzy Cola flavour. These were the sweets most associated with the post war era and were popular with the baby boom generation and these sweets are iconic of the 1970s.

For while a mystery Spangle flavour appeared on the market, this caused great debate up and down the country, some even speculating this mystery flavour was all lies and fabrications from the Spangle makers. They mystery flavour was later revealed to be Grapefruit. Spangles also tried to compete with Polos and for a while Minty flavoured Spangles with hole in them were available.

So what happened to Spangles? The children of the 1950s and 1960s grew up, and apparently stopped buying sweets. Mars Ltd changed with the changing times and replaced Spangles with Skittles. So to all you hateful Skittle eaters – you helped to kill Spangles! They left this world in 1984, however, they were bought back from the dead in 1995. During this revival period they were mostly sold in Woolworths. To all the people who pinched sweets from the pick n mix at Woolworths, you not only helped kill Woolworths you helped to send Spangles to a second untimely demise.

To conclude, never give up hope if your favourite sweet or chocolate has been discontinued, as we can see above, they can return. Start campaigning, make sure everyone knows you want them back. This can be successful as we can see from the bring back Cadbury Wispa campaign. Hopefully Wispa’s will never leave the shop shelves again! This probably won’t be the last blog of tracking down lost confectionery, if you have missing favourite treat in your life get in touch and I will help you find it.

5 thoughts on “Aztec Bars, Secret Bars and Spangles

  1. peter

    I remember Aztecs were launhed for the 1968 olympics in Mexico with a high budget ad using Aztec costumes and pyramids. From my recollection they were not competing for the everyday Mars bar customer but a more adventurous and exotic market. Many of us enjoyed both. As for Spangles, Olde English were the best I also thought skittles were a replacement for Tutti Fruities

  2. archie

    Paul Fox -Walker’s Toffee is still available (have seen it recently in plain, brazil nut, fruit & Nut, Treacle, Liquorice, Chocolate and éclair varieties….not only in bars, but trays with a hammer and also individually wrapped sweets) ….Peter – Tutti Fruitti are also still available….

    ….I LOVED Spangles….the Old English were definitely the best (especially the mustard coloured ‘treacle’ flavour ones)….these were my favourite sweets along with Spearmint Pacers. I hate the way all of our sweets have become Americanised. Cadbury’s chocolate is absolutely rank now – I had to bin some the other day as I couldn’t bear to finish it. I don’t buy it anymore.

  3. mikewhit

    Hello Emma, just came here due to a mention of Old English Spangles in today’s Martin Rowson cartoon in The Guardian !
    But what were the flavours in that variant ?


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