It didn't take long for Cherry Chan to vanish from the shelves and suddenly be replaced by "Cherry Clan". "Why would this happen?" many of us wondered. Decades later, I found out from a museum visitor, Ed Zumbiel. Here is Ed's interesting story:
Back in the 1980s, I was a young college student who worked in the art department of the C.W. Zumbiel Co., (now known as Zumbiel Packaging), a family owned and operated manufacturer of empty boxes. One of our most enjoyable customers was Ferrara Pan from Chicago.
On the subject of Ferrara, I am amazed that you have a copy of the Cherry Chan box. A Zumbiel artist, Gus Somers, designed the package by hand (i.e. with a paintbrush). Naturally, it was a complete rip-off of the image and likeness of Charlie Chan. Sal Ferrara found it amusing that Zumbiel shamelessly borrowed Charlie Chan's image to help him sell candy; Charlie Chan's heirs however were not quite as amused and threatened to sue Ferrara Pan if they did not cease and desist. And so, Ferrara changed the name from Cherry Chan to Cherry Clan -- which from a racist perspective was even worse than Cherry Chan. Cherry Clan featured little squinty eyed Chinese faces wearing conical Asian hats -- perhaps to imply that the candy originated in a rice paddy?
The China theme apparently did not work and the Cherry Clans faded from store shelves. This is a shame because the candy was delicious. I am sure that there are not many Cherry Chan boxes in existence due to the fact that Charlie Chan's heirs shut down the fun so quickly.
Thanks, Ed, for this story! This goes to show that one can only speculate on such things until you get the inside scoop.
One last note: a fun thing about Ferrara Pan in the past was the way they were always looking out for the kids.