A really nice guy, Norm Sexton, tipped me off to the amazing grassroots Canadian candy strike of 1947. As an American who was born about a decade later, I hadn't heard anything about it. However, as luck would have it, Norm further clued me in by sharing with me a great documentary on the subject, The Five Cent War by Travesty Productions. Click on this link to visit their site and read more about it!
But while you're here, let me tell you what the strike was all about. It all began when price controls on chocolate were lifted after WWII, causing the five cent candy bar to leap to a whopping eight cents. This caused the disgruntled children of the country to rise in revolt.
Now some of you out there might think that upping the price to eight cents isn't all that bad, but think about it... add two more cents and you've doubled the price! Kids had small allowances, and now they'd have to pay sixteen cents instead of a dime just to enjoy two measly candy bars. On top of that, who carried around eight cents? It was simply a clumsy, cumbersome price.
So some kids in Vancouver Island got to thinking about how this was not right, and almost as a prank they decided to go into town with signs and protest by a local store that sold candy. Protest fever quickly spread... people started talking, kids started talking, and in a very short matter of time kids throughout the country were banding together with picket signs and marches to "just say no" to the eight cent candy bar. They even had their own protest song.
Photo by courtesy of Travesty Productions
Much to the candy manufacturers' dismay, the ranks of unruly children continued to grow. The manufacturers defended their position, stating that this was the price they had to charge in order to stay in business. But the kids were unimpressed. It just wasn't fair!
This war of wills continued until some wily character leaked a news story tying the kids to Communism, claiming their innocent fire was being fueled by nefarious subversives. And quicker than you could say "black list," the party was over. Nobody wanted to be suspected of being "pink." And so ends the tale. The big guys won. But the spirit of those kids and the way they united was simply great. Viva the Five Cent Warriors!
Thank you so much, Norm, for filling me in on this amazing event. I've been trying to reach you by e-mail, but my messages keep bouncing. I hope you come to this page and read this message. And thank you, Travesty Productions, for making the film, and for giving me the opportunity to write about it. If any candy lovers or candy historians would like to purchase a copy of the film, simply send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or visit their website and contact them there.