Candy Raisins Reincarnated

candy_raisins2It was the weirdest thing. Just the other week, during a morning run, I found myself craving Candy Raisins, the beloved Milwaukee regional treat that disappeared from my life when Necco closed its Milwaukee plant in 2008. Back then, I joined the fight to “save” the Candy Raisins and signed an online petition led by a particularly passionate fan from West Allis.

Although more than 7,000 signatures were ultimately collected, sadly, the efforts proved fruitless. And so in the final days, I stock piled those caramel-colored gumdrops (which, by the way, taste nothing like raisins) as if preparing for the Apocalypse. But eventually, even my stores ran dry. And thus Candy Raisins lovers worldwide mourned the loss. My favorite childhood treat lost forever (RIP picture below from

And nearly four years later, as I ran on a dark, winter morning, I could still feel their notable absence in my life.

But then later that same day, I came across a friend’s Facebook post linked to a CNN article titled “15 of America’s Favorite Regional Sweets.” And Wisconsin’s favorite sweet? You got it—Candy Raisins. My friend asked innocently, what are Candy Raisins?

With a deep sigh, I opened the article. It was just one more painful reminder that my beloved Candy Raisins were gone forever. Their taste on my lips slowly fading from my memory over time.

I wasn’t prepared for what I read next. It was as if receiving the news that my long-lost pet had been cloned into a genetically identical being. I blinked in disbelief. But there it was. According to the CNN article, food scientists at Milwaukee-based Osmanium Candy Company had used what was believed to be the last remaining bags of Candy Raisins to reverse-engineer a new version called Candy Sunshine. Despite many challenges, the candy makers were motivated by a sense of civic duty to bring Candy Raisins back to Milwaukee. After a two year process, Candy Sunshine will finally debut next month. And according to the new Candy Sunshine Web site, “10 out of 10 Candy Raisins lovers agree, Candy Sunshine is spot on.” And you can’t argue with results like those.candy-sunshine2

According to the CNN article, Candy Sunshine will be available at several Milwaukee-area stores such as Candyman Snack Shop, Fleet Farm and Beans & Barley. They’ll also be available for purchase online at ($5 for a pack of three bags). You can pre-order yours today!

Candy Raisins have been reincarnated. There is a God.

Category: Uncategorized 61 comments »

61 Responses to “Candy Raisins Reincarnated”

  1. Jackie

    Wow, that is really great news! When I was in grade school, we had a little candy store along my school route. I would stop in a get a 1/4 of a pound every week. I must have passed on my love of candy raisins to you and your brother. I’m looking forward to trying the new candy raisins.


  2. Jackie

    Candy Sunshine Bulk now available at Winkies in Whitefish Bay, and also Friday at Sendiks in Elm Grove, Franklin, Germantown, Grafton, Greenfield, Mequon, New Berlin, Wauwatosa, West Bend, and Whitefish Bay! Bags coming mid-late March still!

  3. kristin

    Thanks for the update! Fantastic. Bulk is even better!

  4. Jeri

    Awesome…..and pooh to you Necco!

  5. Nancy

    I heard that Candy Sunshine does NOT taste like the original candy raisins. Those of you that have tried them what do you think?

  6. Karl

    Just had some… NOTHING like the original.

    Candy Raisins had a firm outer crust with a slightly softer middle. Candy Sunshine is like a soft gummy bear all the way through. While the taste of Raisins was unique, and so are these, they do not compare. It’s been so long since I had a Raisin, I can’t remember the exact nuances, but trust me, Sunshine is no Raisin.

  7. Ralph

    I tried them and think they taste similar to the raisins, they are softer, but after eating a half pound over the last week I think they will satisfy my raisins craving. I almost prefer them now.

  8. Mary

    These are nothing like the old ones not even close….these are terrible !!!Don’t waste your money !!!

  9. Kim

    oh boy I am excited and here I was to Sendiks this past Friday but did not peruse the bulk section dang, wouldn’t I have been excited….ah well I ordered them and paid the price of shipping. I must try them….I see some of you say they are nothing like……..that would make me sad.

  10. Kris

    I really like them, at first I wasn’t sure, but after I ate a pound I became a fan. They aren’t the exact same as I remember, but close. Everytime a product comes back it seems a bit different, but these make my memories come back, so I am happy.


  11. Renee

    I have tried them-drove to Milwaukee last week and bought 2 pounds. They were very soft, like a gummy bear. I was not impressed by the taste at first. I decided they were too sticky and needed to dry out a bit. Put 1 lb. on perforated metal pan and air dried them for a week. Now they have firmer whitish appearance-Better texture and taste. More like what I remember. I now have the second pound drying.
    I think the company was in a hurry to release the product. They sent out a very moist, sticky product. Try the air drying-it works in my opinion.
    At first, I was disappointed but now am planning on getting several more pounds. When I ate some last night-felt like the Candy Raisin was back!

  12. Walt

    Born and raised in Milwaukee and bought them at my school store. The flavor is in my hard drive. I even Carried POUNDAGE via airlines home as an adult just to have stock piles in my pantry after I left Milwaukee.
    I bought 3 lbs. from a west Allis distributor, also promising a local candy maker in Wyoming a treat he wouldn’t believe.
    This wasn’t even close. I ended up throwing them out. Sorry, the texture, the taste, the experience – all a waste.
    Sorry if this isnt what you wanted to hear, but it’s honest. If it was great, I would be the first to share.

  13. John

    My wife & I found them at Half-Nuts yesterday & asked for a taste.
    Thank goodness!
    They were TERRIBLE!
    NOTHING like Candy Raisins – not even close
    If Necco doesn’t want to make them anymore, fine — publish the recipe.

  14. beth

    I miss Candy Raisins. Consumed a lot of them while cramming for exams in high school. :-)

    Thank you Candy Raisins for the comfort you provided back then. Please come back!!!

  15. Tami

    Ahhh those yummy candies…..As a child from Chicago in the 60’s, I thought they were dog treats, LOL! I grew up watching my uncle feed them to my grandparents dog in Cedarburg. I was in love with those tasty dog treats and didn’t care they weren’t for humans, I ate them anyway. It wasn’t until much later that I found out the truth (when I learned to read), that these are the best candies ever made!

    I miss you Candied Raisins!!!

  16. Carol

    Pu-leeze let someone else make the Candy Raisins, Necco! How could you abandon us. When my daughter had her son, I brought her favorite candy-of course-Candy Raisins.

  17. Penny

    I tried the Candy Sunshine. They taste nothing like a candy raisin and should not be passed off as a close comparison. They need to go back to the lab and work on the taste texture and consistency or buy the old recipe and start to manufacture them correctly. My family misses the real candy raisins.

  18. Bob

    At theState Fair there was a candy co selling whjat looked like the candy raisns but the did admit they did not taste like the real thing which I appreciated their honesty. I will wait and see how this works out.

  19. Karen Sedmak

    It was the only candy that satisfied my craving for chocolate. I visited WI from SC the beginning of Aug, 2012 and my son found the “Candy Sunshine” inspired by the original – well forget it – they are nothing like the original. Taste like perfume. I wish NECCO would just sell the recipe since they refuse to make them anyway. They wouldn’t need the machinary just the recipe. I don’t think any of us who are lovers of the original would care what their shape is. We would only be interested in the taste. I used to smash mine into a flat shape. HELP somebody should be able to make them again for all of is who crave them.

  20. Candy Raisin Lovers

    They need to go back to the drawing bd., just tried the new product…yuk

  21. Char in Oregon

    I was so excited when a friend told me that candy raisins were back! She sent me this link, but after reading everyone’s comments, I think I will just live with the wonderful memories. So sad.

  22. Eric

    These aren’t even close to the original. I was just as excited as anyone when I first heard of this “reverse engineering” so I ran out and bought a few pounds of them. To be blunt, anyone telling you that these taste like Candy Raisins are full of it…I actually like the Candy Sunshine, but to pass it off as a Candy Raisin is only going to get peoples hopes up only to disappoint them immensely. For what its worth, I’ve been told by a local candy retailer that our voices have been heard and that there is potential for Candy Raisins to come back and that the makers of Candy Sunshine aren’t too happy about it. I don’t think they have any right to be upset seeing as they were putting out a cheap imitation…
    Regardless, I just want my Candy Raisins back, no matter who is making them!!

  23. Eric (a different Eric)

    I just tried one of these. Yes, just one. I was curious. My mother, who grew up with Candy Raisins, which lead to me loving them, got a bag for her birthday, tried a few and was dismayed that they were so far from the original. So I had to try just that one. For starters it was way too soft and sticky, as mentioned. It just felt like a regular gumdrop in the mouth like a DOTS, it also got stuck in my teeth, which I don’t remember ever being an issue with the original. The biggest killer though was that the flavor wasn’t even in the same ballpark. Now I don’t claim to even have a guess as to what the exact flavor of the original is and that leads to a lot of the fun and mystique of them. Clearly, though, Candy Sunshine is very much just a brown-colored, LEMON gumdrop. It almost tasted like what I imagine dishsoap tasting like. It was very gross and highly disappointing.

    Now I have a lot of respect for what these guys are trying to do. It feels like they’re coming from a place of love and not just trying to cash in on a nostalgic favorite for a quick buck. That said, they REALLY need to go back to square one with these and try again because what they have here is clearly not working and just makes me pine for the original even more.

  24. Amy Forciea

    I just tried Candy sunshine and I don’t think they taste anything like Candy Raisins. Here is some great news (if it is true) there was a business plan submitted for a two part factory in Delafield WI in July 2012. One of those parts is for a small producer of candy called Golden Raisins LLC. Supposedly they have acquired the original recipe for Stak Candy raisins from NECCO and maybe just maybe………we’ll see :)

  25. Pat

    I got some of the samples of the new Candy Sunshine formula last week as a taste tester and they are REALLY close! They don’t have the wrinkles but I am glad they kept trying, the new formula is so much better than the old stuff from the State Fair!

  26. Sharpshooter

    Are you kidding?

    I left Milwaukee (Whitefish Bay, actually) in 1971, and for that entire time, I kept getting a hankering for the old Candy Raisins. I didn’t realize they were a local “attraction”, and for the next 40 years, would ask in candy and specialty stores where I wound up in Colorado and then Arizona if they carried them. They wold just stare at me. :-)

    So, are they ready for sale (I heard they were in “Beta Testing”)?

    Oh, crap! Now I feel old! (I’m 60, still a kid, I guess) but what a trip down Memory Lane. And I remember when Winkies, in WFB, was on the NE corner of Hampton and St. Monica, across from Foodlane. :-)

  27. Debi Mcglothlin

    On my trip to WI (from TN) in 2008 I stocked up on several pounds of candy raisins for my upcoming move to Germany for 3 years, knowing I would have to do without for several years. I was excited when my household goods arrived, as I could once again savor my beloved candy. Candy raisins have always been a mystery to my southern raised family, but everytime I brought them back they seemed to vanish. So, as my stash in Germany would have to last for my time there I carefully limited myself to just a few every now and then. Now I’m back in the States, and one of my first things on my trip last summer was to search for my next stash to take home. Searched all over Milwaukee, Grafton and Cedarbug, before finally ending up at Winkies in WFB, only to find out they were no longer available. I was so crushed. Candy sunshine may try but they will never bring back the memories of going to my grandparents house in the 60’s and getting a fresh bag as a treat for visiting.

  28. Carol McWade

    I live near Winkies in Whitefish Bay, so I tried the new ones. They are absolutely awful, and tasted like soap to me. Glad I was given a sample so I did not waste my money. I will never buy them.

  29. Jane

    Oh how I miss them I wonder if we got a petition going and sent it to necco maybe we could get some results. They never distributed this candy nation wide if they had it would still be on the market.

  30. Rob

    When I first heard that they were going to stop making candy rains in 2008 I bought 20 lbs in bulk and vacuum sealed and froze them in 2 lb bags. I am down to 5 lbs left but every few months I open a bag take out a quarter lb or so and seal the rest back up in the freezer. Going to miss them when they are gone.

  31. Pamela Webb

    My husband pre-ordered 5 lbs of Candy Sunshines and got them yesterday. He was hugely disappointed. Doesn’t taste at all like the originals – he said both the flavor and the texture are seriously off. We will try the “drying out” technique someone else described, but I don’t hold out much hope. I personally don’t care for them – I think they taste like Bay Rum smells, but they are very much a part of our childhood and I am sorry too that they haven’t been reincarnated successfully.

  32. Kim S.

    I just tried to new candy sunshine that came out recently and I think they are really close to the originals, I am very happy to have my favorite treat back. Thank you world!

  33. wayne

    Sooooooooo very disappointed. Not even close to the original. Too waxy tasting.

  34. Chad

    Candy sunshine needs to go back to the drawing board. They taste nothing like the original god awful. We need the original back. We should do somthing about it……

  35. Deb

    OMG I am so disapointed. Color, taste and texture are all off.
    They should not be allowed to compare to the original in their
    advertisement. Candy Sunshine is a flop!

  36. Kelly

    I was born and raised in Milwaukee until 1985 when we moved to Indiana. I also didn’t realize candy raisins were a regional thing. I have asked every candy store within 50 miles and they look at me with the deer caught in the headlights look. Today I decided to search online and discovered the terrible news! I signed the petition even though it is to late!

    After reading all the comments about the “new version” I’m not sure I’ll waste my money but more important than that I don’t want to tarnish my memory of my favorite candy!

    I don’t know how to go about it but has anyone heard of a new petiton against the new version. If they are as bad as has been said maybe the company should at least change the package labeling. The claim to the original is false advertising.

  37. Jessica

    Just tried some today at Half Nuts and actually wanted to spit it out. Absolutely nothing like a candy raisin. It was slimy and flavorless, with not even a hint of the defining violet flavor. Left a comment on their Facebook page, and was rudely told that my pallet must be off because everyone loves them, especially people that weren’t fans of the original. WTF right? This explains a lot:)

  38. John

    New Candy Sunshine formula (V124) released May 3rd, 2013!!

    Jessica(above): I was the one who responded to your post on FB on the Candysunshine page, the “original” we referred to was the original CANDY SUNSHINE formula released which had very strong flavor, NOT the original Candy Raisins item.

    We also did not attack your “pallet” but simply let you know everyone has different sensitivities to flavor and just because you personally didn’t like them(or give them a chance to try 4-5 at a time for more flavor), it is just your opinion, let others have theirs. Candy Sunshine is subtle to some, not to others, and some people(like yourself) obviously don’t like them. Others love them.

    P.S. Due to your rude and combative comments we deleted your FB post.

    Have a great day.

  39. Martin

    Had a co-worker surprise the office today with the newest version, and what a letdown! Not sure how something so bad can even be compared to a candy raisin. None of us cared for them, what a shame:(

  40. Billie

    Kelly I think you’re onto something!

  41. Jackie Pfeiffer

    Any news on the return of the original recipe candy raisin? Are the rumors of the original recipe being sold true?

  42. Peter

    I’m confused, Candy Sunshine is not even in the same ballpark as a Candy Raisin. Why are they able to mislead the public like this? This is one of the worst knock offs in history. Buyer beware!

  43. kelsey

    Candy Sunshine=Epic Fail

    Can we please get an update on the return of the original recipe candy raisins? Stark’s formula was sold to a man in Lake Country?

  44. Jamiee

    I had those new Candy Sunshine things today….NOT GOOD! They are nothing like the originals. So bummed.

  45. Cathy

    I was so excited when I saw them, but I agree with the majority here. They were nothing like the original, awful actually that I threw the bag away. Unfortunately, we can’t claim false advertising because the package says it’s a remake of Candy Raisins. Well the remake was way off the mark and I feel like my money was stolen from me.

  46. Nick

    Good god is Candy Sunshine HORRIBLE!!!! I am patiently waiting for the original recipe to return.

  47. Faith

    thought I had found the answer to my prayers. Yes that is how much I them. I won’t even try these to many people don’t like them. It is the original or nothing
    I am 63 years old so I had a lot of years with them and my love for candy raisins will not take a back seat to a fake

  48. Tammy

    Just tried new formula. They taste nothing like the candy raisins I had growing up in a Milwaukee suburb. I would have my mom send bags of them to me because they were indigenous of Milwaukee and nobody in the East had ever heard of them. Come on Necco give it up!!!! What next!

  49. Cindy

    I was so excited when I saw the bags so I bought one for me and one for my dad since it was one of favorite things when I was growing up. We were both very disappointed in the taste. They taste nothing like the original and do not have the same texture. Keep trying.

  50. Robin Stroebel

    I love Candy Raisins! I inherited this from my mom. They have them at the candy store in Cedarburg. I stocked up over the 4th. They aren’t perfect, but they’re not bad. Better than nothing!

  51. jan peterson (kuyken)

    I thought that i was alone in loving and looking forward to finding candy raisin’s in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. Every two years when I returned to Wisconsin for my Peterson family reunion, I visited Ashley
    s Confectionery faithfully picking up my $1.00 bag of raisins eating them all. In 2008 I was heart broken to find out that they were no longer being made. The other day when I once again left New York and returned for a visit to see my home town Cedarburg, my friend saw the magical sign outside of Ashley’s saying that the Candy Raisin’s were back. We slammed on the brakes, ran in—heart brake! No raisins! they were sold out. Shirley the clerk had a waiting list of people she needed to call when they returned. She carefully said that the second recipe for raisin’s was better. So I eagerly await the raisins in brooklyn, New York.

  52. Randall Broughton

    Okay okay why do you wild people always criticize. It is reincarnated the person
    Who made these, are just like us, craving something that was good but can’t have it anymore. I applaud this company for trying. they never said anything about it tastes just like it, I will continue to buy them until I start craving thease. there is nothing like the original, but it is a start and it might get better and of course its from good ole milwaukee.

  53. Jan Olstein

    I just checked Facebook and found there is a new version from this company, V150 that released a few weeks ago. They are the best yet, holy cow they have come a long way, very close to the candy raisins I remember.

  54. Jenny

    Just bought some at Woodmans in Waukesha. Not sure what version they were, but they still sucked. A honey flavored dot is not a knock off, or even a half way decent tribute to a candy raisin. YUCK!

  55. eric

    Has anyone heard anything about either the recipe being sold or anything further about “Golden Raisins LLC”? I had heard a few rumors about both of the above happening sometime last year but haven’t heard any updates. I’m still holding out hope that we will once again see Candy Raisins, but I’m not holding my breath. The newest version of Candy Sunshine is closer to the original, but its still not the same.

  56. Jay napier

    Bought 2 bags today the don’t even come close to the original I remember in my childhood and adult years missed them. Found what they say are them today and NOT EVEN CLOSE I gave one bag away and came home to open our bag and try taste like bad cough drops we threw the rest of the bag out small bag and they are not cheap…. so disappointed this is NOT the original recipe nothing like the original
    don’t waste your time looking for them you will not be happy!

    So sad

  57. Jay napier

    Bought 2 bags today gave one to a friend sorry I did, came home we opened the other bag and YUCK they are terrible not even close! Not cheap for these little bags and they are terrible would not buy again and the bag we opened we tossed taste like yucky cough drops.

    So disappointed

    Now someone bring back the original please

  58. Jessica

    As of 4/11/14 “Candy Raisin” is in the process of being trademarked, so that is a wonderful sign:)

  59. Joe

    Please know that Candy Sunshine is NOT the original. The original recipe has been brought back and can be found at

  60. unknown

    My Dad said ” these are not the originals” nice try..

  61. Jess

    The original Candy Raisins can be bought on Amazon….

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