Monday, August 31, 2009

Kits & BB Bats

UPDATED 9/1/2009

KitsBB Bats and Kits were introduced in 1924

and discontinued in 2009

.

In their 85 years of existence they remained largely unchanged. Simple firm taffy in a variety of classic candy flavors wrapped in serviceable waxed paper and sold as changemakers (early on they were penny candy, but even today they’re purchased with pocket change).

Ownership of the company and recipes changed hands a few times. The earliest owner I know of was Sophie Mae based in Atlanta, Georgia. They made Slo Pokes, Black Cows, BB Bats and Kits. Back in 2004 they sold out to the Georgia Nut Company (of Illinois) which rolled them into their Family Brands.

Georgia sold the brand to Quality Candy Company who just confirmed that they’ve stopped manufacture

. Georgia Nut sold the brand to Warrell (who also make Pennsylvania Dutch Candies and Katherine Beecher).

Kits and BB Bats

Kits are small stacks of taffy squares and BB Bats are a slightly firmer version on a stick. Both came in the same array of flavors: Chocolate, Peanut Butter/Molasses, Strawberry and Banana.

Chocolate Flavored KitsChocolate Flavored Kits

Chocolate was oddly salty. They taste a bit like brownie batter and less like chocolate than many other cocoa flavored taffy confections I’ve had.

They’re pleasant enough with a good stiff chew that doesn’t descend into grain at the end. But they lack even the chocolate punch that a Tootsie Roll has, instead these are more like a malty version of a piece of taffy than a chocolate one.

Peanut Butter KitsPeanut Butter Flavored Kits

These are often sold online as Peanut Butter & Molasses flavor, though none of the little wrappers I have say that.

They’re a nice light brown like peanut butter. They smell a little nutty but mostly like sweet taffy.

These were soft and easy to chew. A little salty and after a few chews the peanut butter flavor came out. The molasses is only a light touch, rather like the Peanut Butter Kisses that come wrapped in orange or black waxed paper for Halloween. The flavor reminded me of Nutter Butters. They’re nice enough, the big selling point is that there are few peanut butter flavored chews out there and these are definitely not tooth pullers like Mary Janes.

Banana KitsBanana Flavored Kits

Banana flavored items are those candies that folks are either going to love or hate.

They’re extremely yellow and out of the package smell like banana or Circus Peanuts.

The flavor is intense and chemical - I felt a slight burning in the back of my throat from these - maybe because they’re so sweet or maybe because the isoamyl acetate that makes up the flavoring is similar enough to fingernail polish remover.

Strawberry KitsStrawberry Flavored Kits complete the set, which is makes the whole offering feel like a ice cream shop’s milkshake menu.

The pink here is quite bright out of the uncolored wax paper. The strawberry flavor is all floral fragrance and no berry tartness. Towards the end of the chew I was getting the artificial flavor bitterness so these were the least appealing for me.

I’m not really in a position to review the BB Bats, I have a few of them, but I fear that they’re hopelessly old. Some say Family Brands of Skokie Illinois on them so I think they’re at least three years old (the Kits say Georgia Confections). The big difference between Kits & BB Bats is that the BB Bats were usually a bit firmer to hold up on the stick, but the flavors and texture were similar - meant for sucking instead of chewing.

Though Kits bear a passing resemblance to Starbursts in format, they’re actually more like Tootsie Rolls (though Tootsie never came in Peanut Butter). The fact that they’re sold in single flavor packs and mine cost only 30 cents each give these a special spot in the confectionery purchase pantheon. It’s sad to see a unique product like this disappear.

UPDATE: My apologies for not completely researching this - I had two different sources tell me of the discontinuation. What I didn’t know is that yes, it’s true that the factory that made them closed, but Warrell is currently in the process of transferring the manufacturing to another facility. The confusion arose when Georgia Nut sold off Gilliam but not all of the products, including the BB Bats, Kits and Slo Pokes.

So to sum up, there may be some interruption in supplies, but production will resume. Also, folks who were sad that they wouldn’t be around but hadn’t bought them in a while should probably try to buy them more often ... or else they might go away for good for lack of sales.

Related Candies

  1. Banana n Cream & Red Orange Mentos
  2. Whoppers Milkshake Strawberry
  3. Tootsie Rolls & Fruit Rolls
  4. Circus Peanuts
  5. Space Food Sticks
  6. Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses
Name: Kits: Chocolate, Banana, Peanut Butter & Strawberry
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Georgia Nut Company
Place Purchased: Ultimate Nut & Candy Company (Farmers Market)
Price: $.30 each
Size: .35 ounces
Calories per ounce: unknown
Categories: Chew, United States, Discontinued

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:40 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

Comments
  1. and in other news, Peanut butter Tootsie rolls is possibly the best idea ever.

    Comment by Elise on 8/31/09 at 12:08 pm #
  2. this is such sad news! i’ll mourn the loss of these wonderful classic sweets!

    Comment by bekahb on 8/31/09 at 2:47 pm #
  3. Oh no! The entire reason I went to the Milwaukee Public Museum was for the BB Bats they sold in their old-fashioned store. I can’t believe they’re discontinued. =(

    Comment by Amy on 8/31/09 at 2:48 pm #
  4. They’ve discontinued BB Bats? That’s so depressing! They were one of my favorite candies growing up, and I still love the things. I think they’re still selling them in assortment packs with other candies at my local Walgreens; I’m going to have to stock up.

    Comment by Jess on 8/31/09 at 7:03 pm #
  5. RIP, BB Bats! Oh, how I loved those things…

    Comment by Alix on 9/01/09 at 2:51 am #
  6. I agree with Elise!  Let’s start a campaign!

    Comment by Michelle F on 9/01/09 at 6:04 am #
  7. Cybele's avatar

    I’m very sorry for my poor fact checking on this posting. See above - they are not discontinued though they did change hands and the factory is moving. A gentleman from the Warrell Classic Candy said they should be up and running by the end of the month.

    Comment by Cybele on 9/01/09 at 9:29 am #
  8. “Though Kits bear a passing resemblance to Starbursts in format, they?re actually more like Tootsie Rolls”

    They sound more like Now&Later; to me, but if you’re comparing them to Tootsie Rolls they must be a bit softer.

    Comment by bitguru on 9/01/09 at 4:35 pm #
  9. Sorry to provide yet another update, but I am almost certain that they were originally made by Fair Play Caramel Company in Johnson City, New York. “Broome County 1850-1940” on Google Books has photos.

    Comment by Ann on 9/02/09 at 2:21 am #
  10. I don’t care who is making them or where, I’m just happy that some of my childhood favorites aren’t going away, woo hoo! Thanks for the update.

    Comment by Laura on 9/03/09 at 5:40 am #
  11. I ride my bike right past the Warrell factory in Camp Hill & often it smells like peanut butter cookies baking.  I’ve wondered what they could be cooking inside that smells like peanut butter. Now I know!  It’s Kits!!

    Comment by anne h on 9/03/09 at 7:25 am #
  12. Woohoo! I hope this means that they will become more readily available where I live. I have tried to order them online but the shipping is more than the candies themselves! My favorite candy since buying them back in the 70’s, 20/$1 at the penny candy store near my grandparent’s house. I would walk there with grandpa’s change rattling in my pocket and happily come home with a huge bag of candy that lasted throughout our entire visit, with enough to spare for sharing with cousins and my little brother! My favorite is the chocolate. No wait, the strawberry. AUGH! smile

    Comment by Cindy on 9/08/09 at 7:59 am #
  13. I recently received some for my birthday.  I agree with the original taster.  The banana left a weird taste in my mouth and the strawberry-which was my favorite because it tasted strawberry-buttery- left a food colorey (sp?) taste in my mouth.  Needless to say I was very disappointed.  I too would visit the little ma and pa candy store near my grandparents house and go home with a bag full of kits and BB Bats.
    Just proves you can’t go back…  :>(

    Comment by Vicki on 9/26/09 at 10:59 am #
  14. Ann, you are correct. The Fair Play Caramel Company in Johnson City, NY has claim to BB Bats and Kits. I grew up there!!! Here is a website from the Broome County Historical Society about it: http://www.ctandi.org/companies/FairPlay/Candy.htm

    I’ve tried the versions you can get today and they just don’t taste the same as when I was a kid.

    Comment by Colleen on 10/01/09 at 10:58 am #
  15. Yes indeed, Fair Play Caramel Company made the true BB Bats and Kits! I grew up there as well, although I am too young to actually recall the factory ever being open.

    Comment by Mat on 11/19/10 at 5:18 pm #
  16. FYI, just wanted to add an update that after being discontinued in late 2010 the BB Bats and Kits are returning!  You can read more at runkcandy.com.  We keep plugging away every day to get equipment set up and supplies ordered.  We are getting pretty close and anticipated availability is around the end of the year. smile

    Comment by Dan on 10/30/11 at 7:23 pm #
  17. I loved BB bats & Kits taffy!! It’s a shame it’s no longer around!!

    Comment by Dodi Baker on 11/05/11 at 8:30 pm #
  18. My husband loves kits

    Comment by Linda Hall on 12/02/11 at 9:21 am #
  19. @Dan(Comment #16) - YAY! I have been eagerly watching the stores, hope I get some Kits soon! Thanks, Dan.

    ALSO! Did anyone else notice? In the recent movie “Super 8”, there was an old timey display box of KITS on the counter at the gas station. Do I get a prize?  wink

    Comment by Cindy on 12/02/11 at 10:14 am #
  20. I wanted to order my sister bb bats for Christmas.  So sad that I couldn’t get them :(

    Comment by wanda malone on 12/10/11 at 8:01 pm #
  21. I’ve received a few e-mails from Kits and BB Bats fans and just wanted to let people know that the first test (plain wrapped) BB Bats came off the line last week.  Hopefully we are just a few weeks away from starting real production!  (Will update the website at runkcandy.com when they are ready.)

    @Cindy—I’ve heard about the Kits box in Super 8, but haven’t seen the movie.  I will have to check that out.

    Comment by Dan on 1/09/12 at 8:40 pm #
  22. Just wanted to update any followers to our website at runkcandy.com so you can see pictures of the new BB Bats and Kits we are making.  We have both machines running now and we should be starting to fill orders very soon!  Thanks to all who have sent us inquiries and encouraging e-mails—it is nice to know so many are still interested in these nostalgic candies!

    Comment by Dan on 3/07/12 at 8:02 pm #
  23. My husband really like the Kits and BB Bats I was trying to find him some for Christmas.

    Comment by Linda Hall on 3/08/12 at 5:31 pm #
  24. I am so happy to learn that Kits and BB bats are coming back…I am in the process of putting together a basket for each of my brothers of the candies we use to eat when we were children…to bring back those fond memories of the penny candies we use to buy at the local candy store—I have order Charms sour balls in the tin, charms candy squares in a package, Atomic Fireball bubble gum to name a few ..remember chewing that gum would bring tears to my eyes…but, loved every chew…(lol)  I hope you will be bringing back the bats and kits soon as my oldest brother loved those and it would definitely be a treat for him and me as well.Keep the memories forever…thanx….

    Comment by Brenda Phillips on 3/12/12 at 11:22 am #
  25. When can we order Iwould love to order. Can’t wait would make my husband very happy.

    Comment by Linda Hall on 3/12/12 at 8:30 pm #
  26. I hope soon and to the comment that we best buy them or they may discontinue if no one buys…I plan on stocking up when they come back…don’t want to miss out again….Have a great day and please let me know when they are available to purchase—I check this site every day…..thanx…

    Comment by Brenda Phillips on 3/13/12 at 7:49 am #
  27. I just wanted to update and let you know that the machines are running pretty well and we’ll begin scaling up production next week.  I’ve taken orders and hope to fill the first one within a couple weeks.  New pictures and updates can be seen on our website at http://www.runkcandy.com.  Thanks, Dan

    Comment by Dan on 4/21/12 at 1:30 am #
  28. hey, i just bb bats at dicks old fashioned 5 and 10 in branson mo!  9-21-12

    Comment by alice on 9/21/12 at 11:36 am #
  29. Glad you found them Alice!  Yes, you will find them (BB Bats and Kits) in quite a few places now as we have been running at full production speed since mid-May now! smile  You can see pictures and information at our website, runkcandy.com.

    Comment by Dan on 9/21/12 at 9:20 pm #
  30. Where is the peanut butter :-(

    Comment by Dee on 12/17/12 at 3:08 pm #
  31. where can i buy the kits and bb.bats canfy what store in florida sell them besides the fair every year

    Comment by SHARON KINLOCH on 2/13/13 at 3:07 pm #
  32. Dee—Sorry, peanut butter just didn’t sell well.  There was vanilla before peanut butter so we went back to that flavor.

    Sharon—Please go to our website and e-mail me with your zip code and I can let you know the closest place where they are available.  We do have distributors and retailers down in FL that carry it year round.

    Comment by Dan on 2/16/13 at 7:27 am #
  33. Just found some B B Bats on our trip to Savannah—boy, did that take me back!  I grew up in Johnson City, NY, and I can confirm that as the original location where these candies were made.  In fact, the factory was just behind my old elementary school, and one of my earliest memories was being outside on the playground and smelling the candy they were making.  Glad to see that they’re still around!!

    Comment by Kevin on 6/02/13 at 10:49 am #

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