Loveland Reporter-Herald

Choclettos offered a taste of old-time cinema


“Once Upon a Time” begins many fairy tales but this is a true story.

You can depend on the truth from “Trivially Speaking” … except when I’m obviously (to me) spoofing something. Thus, these are the facts as I remember them accompanie­d by some research (sadly, no lab research) from my references.

Once there were small movie theaters, no quadruplex­es, octoplexes (designed to show deep sea creatures), cinquaplex­es, all with stereoblas­tic sound, just those designed for watching “old time” movies.

Small towns — even Wall, S.D., in the summer of 1958 — had one, occasional­ly two.

These theaters frequently had ushers to show you your seat if you came in during the previews.

The concession stands were usually dry. By that I don’t mean no alcohol, I mean no sodas.

The floors (especially under your seat) were not dry or sticky. That meant the movie treats were popcorn and sweets.

Where am I going with this? After popcorn — which I occasional­ly shared with a date — my favorite movie accompanim­ent has gone the way of the old “classic” theaters. I am referring to Choclettos.

I mentioned this to the CEO and she recalled liking them. She probably remembered them more than some of our movie dates (no examples here).

Choclettos had a cousin which I deigned to buy, Walnettos.

Walnettos lived longer in the history of American chocolate treats, more on that later.

Despite a few data bites (pun intended) to the contrary, the U.S. Army (and I suppose the other combat services) cares about what its soldiers eat.

During my summer camp and active service I was offered a number of C-rations and K-rations. Unfortunat­ely, this was after the time when Choclettos were included as the sweet.

Caramels were introduced in the U.S. Army’s arsenal of rations as a candy component in the B units of the C-ration. I had no idea there were A units; although maybe the A,B,C concept appealed to Army planners.

These caramels did not have good keeping qualities. A hard caramel may have generated more work for Army dentists.

The new caramels moved first to C-rations in 1943. When they received a satisfacto­ry reception they replaced the unpopular Malted Milk-dextrose in the K-ration in that summer. Note: to the non-military, C-rations were typically eaten individual­ly wherever you could. K-rations were larger quantities usually served in “mess” tents.

Those first caramels used with the K-rations were produced by Peter Paul Inc.

A cardboard tray contained eight individual­ly wrapped small caramels, which was then overwrappe­d with cellophane.

The trays had a commercial design in red ink. Originally, they were labeled as “Chocolate Caramels” but when they were produced commercial­ly they were labeled “Choclettos.”

This product became the one I enjoyed in many movie theaters — not in drive-ins.

Oddly enough, Walnettos had an earlier history. These “lesser” candies were introduced by the J.N. Collins Co. of Minneapoli­s in 1919. Summer weather was not conducive to carrying Walnettos in your pocket so for a while they were not available during summer months.

Nonetheles­s, Walnettos were one of America’s most popular candies in the 1920s and 1930s (before my movie going).

Peter Paul bought the candy, which may have inspired the tastier Choclettos.

Walnettos faded and the candy passed through several hands (sticky) before being bought and resurrecte­d by a candy entreprene­ur in the 1980s. They are presently made by Walnettos Incorporat­ed of Valencia, Calif.

But wait! There’s more. One of my favorite television shows from 1968 through 1971 was “Rowan and Martin’s Laughin.” If you saw it you will remember the delightful “dirty old man” character played by Arte Johnson — not that I identified with him. His pick up line was “Wanna Walnetto?” regularly delivered to Ruth Busse who whacked him with her purse.

He might have had better luck with “Wanna Chocletto?” but we’ll never know. That catchphras­e entered popular culture for a brief time and actually spurred sales of the candy.

Now neither Walnettos nor Choclettos is available in ultra-plexes and your feet might stick to the floor under your seat. “Those were the days, my friends …”

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