Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Abba-Zaba Holy Grail!

Found it at last! In True Confections I had Alice speculate about the murky origins of Abba-Zaba, which, rumor had it, used to feature jungle savages on the package. A later design featured the Abba-Zaba baby, a sort of monkey-like savage. Alice was looking for context for Zip's Candies own Little Sammies with their "Say, Dat's Tasty!" slogan. But as I was writing the novel and desperate to see with my own eyes the original Abba-Zaba label, these Abba-Zaba wrappers were not findable anywhere. Nobody really knew for sure what they looked like, and even the Annabelle Candy Company, which bought Abba-Zaba when they acquired Cardinet, didn't have those original wrappers. (It turns out Cardinet had bought the Abba-Zaba license or had taken over an earlier company, Colby & McDermott, a name new to me. Abba-Zabas seem to have been around since 1922.)

But during a recent idle internet search (the number one procrastination tool of today's writer), I found them at last, newly posted at a candy wrapper museum website. Looking at the original Abba-Zaba savages, I am even more convinced that I am correct in my theory that the name of this candy was based on a kind of made-up imaginary Zulu jungle savage utterance. Look at the picture, and say the words Abba-Zaba. Again. Again. Abba-Zaba, Abba-Zaba! Listen. Can you hear the jungle drums? The natives are restless!


  1. Very interesting. It's amazing to see that kind of stuff from the past - the blatant racist stereotypes are frightening.

  2. Having just finished "True Confections," I can say that your novel is complex, dense and as richly layered as a combination bar. You got the "temper" on this one just right. Bravo.
    Always a fan,

  3. Don't go to church on Sunday
    Don't get on my knees to pray
    Don't memorize the books of the Bible
    I got my own special way

    But I know Jesus loves me
    Maybe just a little bit more
    I fall on my knees every Sunday
    At Zerelda Lee's candy store

    Well it's got to be a chocolate Jesus
    Make me feel good inside
    Got to be a chocolate Jesus
    Keep me satisfied

    Well I don't want no Abba Zabba
    Don't want no Almond Joy
    There ain't nothing better
    Or more suitable for this boy
    Well it's the only thing
    That can pick me up
    Better than a cup of gold
    See only a chocolate Jesus
    Can satisfy my soul

    When the weather gets rough
    And it's whiskey in the shade
    It's best to wrap your savior
    Up in cellophane
    He flows like the big muddy
    But that's ok
    Pour him over ice cream
    For a nice parfait

    Well it's got to be a chocolate Jesus
    Good enough for me
    Got to be a chocolate Jesus
    Good enough for me

    Well it's got to be a chocolate Jesus
    Make me feel good inside
    Got to be a chocolate Jesus
    Keep me satisfied

  4. "Chocolate Jesus" by Tom Waits (1999)

  5. The Abba Zaba candy was originally made in downtown Los Angeles. The factory hired a man to dress up like the characters on the wrapper and chant "Abba Zaba", "Abba Zaba". In front of the candy store.

  6. Abba Zaba, you may only friend! Old chapple

  7. I have an original Abba Zaba candy wrapper with the jungle guys on it that I found in a very old golf bag. I have it framed and on my mantle. It helps me remember my childhood.

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