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What candy candy wrappers tell 150 years ago about the pre-revolutionary history of Russia

Collecting candy wrappers can be considered a frivolous occupation, but sakulumistics is a hobby that is very popular today. Studying huge collections, you can find rare packages from sweets that are more than 150 years old! In addition to collectors, they are also of interest to historians, because you can trace the history of our country from the bright pictures from the middle of the 19th century.

The first candy wrappers appeared less than two hundred years ago. For a long time, sweets were the creation of cooks and they were served only to the table. When mass production began, they did not immediately think about packaging – plain paper stuck to sweets, and greatly increased their cost. However, for the convenience of transportation, storage and simple hygiene, sweets in England and France in the 19th century began to be wrapped in foil. The inventor of the candy wrapper, in principle, is Thomas Edison. In addition to the commercial version of the light bulb, phonograph, and many other useful patents, waxed paper was also in his creative luggage, which perfectly met the needs of the confectionery industry.

It immediately became clear that a candy wrapper with a bright picture would attract the attention of buyers, so candy wrappers quickly began to decorate with color drawings. The fact that a candy wrapper can become a platform for political propaganda was invented not at all in the Soviet Union, but long before it. From the point of view of advertising, the packaging of sweets is an ideal field – it definitely falls into the hands of the consumer and causes not only interest, but also pleasant associations, so Russian industrialists immediately began to fill this promising niche with relevant information.

Workshop for the production of caramel factory “S. Siu and K”, the end of the XIX century

Workshop for the production of caramel factory “S. Siu and K”, the end of the XIX century

Large manufacturers of sweets in Russia in the 19th century began to compete in the originality and beauty of the packaging of their goods. So, for example, one of the owners of the Ename factory, Julius Gray, himself was engaged in the development of candy wrapper designs, he was fond of art photography at his leisure, and his rival, the famous manufacturer Alexei Abrikosov, went further – created an entire artel of artists who were engaged in creating sketches for chocolate packaging and sweets. 30 professional painters worked for him in the packaging workshop, headed by Fedor Shemyakin (this family, by the way, gave Russia several wonderful artists). In their youth, many art stars earned their living by drawing pictures for candy wrappers: Ivan Bilibin, Ivan Ropet, Konstantin Somov, Victor and Appolinarii Vasnetsov, Sergey Yaguzhinsky, Boris Zvorykin, Evgeny Lansere.

As for the subject of candy products, it is fully consistent with its time, reflecting the brightest moments in the socio-political life of the country. In addition to ideal children and beauties, wrappers began to appear on candy wrappers from the middle of the 19th century. This gave manufacturers and products solidity, and to curry favor with the authorities is never superfluous. So, for example, “Tsarskaya” caramel, produced by the “A.I. Apricots and sons, “on it was a monument to Emperor Alexander II. Later, the same caramel was launched into production by other concerns as well, the candy wrapper was pompously decorated with attributes of royal power.

The Enamem Partnership went even further by creating a line of elite sweet products. Having opened an exquisite expensive package of cookies or coffee, the buyer found multi-page colorful avenues with portraits of royal people or images of events significant for the country: the expulsion of Polish invaders from Moscow, the militia of Minin and Pozharsky, the feat of Ivan Susanin, the victory in the Patriotic War of 1812 or the calling of Mikhail Fedorovich Romanov to the kingdom. On the back of the inserts you could read a brief historical background. By the way, in addition to information about the tsarist dynasty and history, one could learn about the peoples of Russia, its flora and fauna, get acquainted with the types of weapons and learn the alphabet. This sweet encyclopedia was very loved by children even in the Romanov family, and the Einem partnership in 1913 was awarded the title of supplier of the courtyard of His Imperial Majesty

In Russia, there was even a tradition to celebrate historical events or their anniversaries with the release of new confectionery products. Its roots are very old – in 1861, after the abolition of serfdom, A.A. Savinova launched the sale of sweets “Reform”, “Will”, “Liberation of the peasants” and “Abolition of serfdom”. Today candy wrappers from this historical series are a real rarity.

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