I Want to Bring Back the Wowee Whistle

I have so longed to have a Wowee wax whistle again, a Halloween candy I remember from growing up. I did some searching. At first I thought they were originally made by the American Candy Company, which was founded in 1899 in Selma, Alabama, then sold in 1989 to the Pinkerton Group in Richmond, Virginia. Wait. The detectives?? No. The Pinkerton Group is part of Procordia United Brands, a Swedish corporation. Thinking the American Candy Company developed the Wowee Whistle, I followed that candy company all over the place, until the Canadian company Concord Confections acquired the wax candy division in 2002.

It seemed like I hit the jackpot then. Concordia had intended to continue making the wax candy, but then I learned that Concordia sold the wax candy division to Tootsie Roll Industries in 2004.

I contacted Tootsie Roll Industries. In answer to my first question, about whether or not they were ever going to bring the Wowee Whistle back, they said no. Politely. Well, maybe someone else can. So I asked, “Does your company have the records, recipe, manufacturing information, or whatever it is you would need in order to produce that item?” They answered, “Stacy, thank you for contacting us. Unfortunately our records do not date back this far. We are sorry to disappoint.”

Come on. 2004 is not that long ago. What now? I don’t entirely believe they just threw out everything to do with the Wowee Whistle. I think I need to persevere a little more with Tootsie Roll Industries.

But then I learned from a website which outlines the history of wax lips, that I got the back story a little wrong. Wax lips, which are similar to the Wowee Whistle, were developed by a guy named John W. Glenn in 1923, in Buffalo, NY. The whistles tasted so much better, in my opinion. But maybe Glenn also made the whistles? I just zoomed in on some pictures of the whistles, and the labels on each definitely say Glenn Confections, Inc., Buffalo, NY. John W. Glenn created the Wowee Whistle as well!

Quick history: His company, Glenn Confections, became part of W&F Manufacturing Company. When W&F Manufacturing Company went bankrupt in 1994, Challenger Candy Company of Secor, IL bought the wax candy-making machinery and moved it to Illinois. Then the Challenger Candy Company went bankrupt, and here’s where the American Candy Company comes in. They bought that same wax candy-making machinery and moved it from Illinois to Alabama (no year given). When Concordia bought the wax division next, in 2002, they moved all the machinery to Canada. I’m dying to see these machines! They must have been built in the 1920s. What happened to them next??

Tootsie Roll still makes the wax lips and fangs, by the way. Why not the whistle?? For the love of God. But they weren’t the first to stop making it. I don’t think I’ve seen one since the 1970s. The molds are probably more expensive, but still.

So, I think my next step is to call Concordia. Which doesn’t seem to make candy at all anymore, and instead preserves and sells seeds. They were the last company to have the machines in their possession, that I know of. Maybe they can tell me where they are now. Or how to make wax whistles.

Bottomline, thank you John W. Glenn for the Wowee Whistle. I loved them and so did millions of other kids. I’ve been searching on Ancestry to find his descendants in order to learn what happened to him in his later life. I’ve identified a granddaughter who I think is still alive. Maybe I will be back with an update.

Wowee Whistle

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

29 thoughts on “I Want to Bring Back the Wowee Whistle

  1. A great piece of detective work. A very interesting read
    It would be fascinating to see the old equipment.

  2. Wowee πŸ™‚ you did a lot of work. Very interesting. Yes, I would love to have one of those whistles, too and wish this generation of kids could get in on the fun.. It was always one of the treats of Halloween when they showed up every fall.Not sure parents enjoyed listening but eventually I always succumbed to taking a small bite which inevitably led to another until it was gone….

  3. The molds to the Wowee Whistle were patented of course and I think it was Concordia that had the molds destroyed. I understand that they no longer exist.

  4. Alas, hope dims. Thank you for your efforts.
    Those things tasted an awful lot like the Checker Berries that I used to find in the woods of New Hampshire; I miss those too.

  5. Danny, where did you hear that the molds were destroyed? I’ve been trying to find the original patent but no success yet.

    Kenneth, yeah, hope is dimming. Now I have to google checker berries. Ah, also know as the teaberry! Maybe that was part of the flavoring. Because I remember the whistle tasted different than the other wax candies, and better.

  6. Sounds like we have a Scrooge in the woodpile or a Grinch person a making misery about the Woowee whistle. If molds were destroyed, others with a different name and patent can be made. Come on candy companies, make the children and even nostalgic adults happy once again in the foreboding time we live in.

  7. Hello Stacy,
    I also have a sweet tooth for the whistles!! I have looked every year since 2002 and wondered why I couldnt find them. Thank you for the information.
    My last name is also Horn. This is my maiden name.. Wonder if we are distantly related?? things that make you go hmmm. πŸ™‚

  8. Carla, that would be funny if we were related. I have done my family tree, and the Horns I’m descended from came from Germany and settled in Brooklyn.

  9. I will buy the first case of wax whistles, when they are released. I am 62. I sure want my grandkids to have them!

  10. Hi Stacy!!! Great research!! My bf and I have veen searching as you did for the Wowee Whistles! We did some digging several years ago, and also hit a wall. We even had discussions on buying one off ebay and creating a mold to form them ourselves. Lol These were such a great childhood memory. I wish theyd bring them back, or sell the machinery to someone who would. Dont they realize people love nostalgia and would love to see these come back. Keep us posted on any new info!

  11. Hi Lisa! I saw some for sale on Ebay, too! A little melted, but the actual whistle! Yeah, I don’t understand why they don’t bring them back. There are a ton of us who would snap them up, and new generations to love them.

  12. I attempted to locate a potential start-up source some years ago, as I would give an unnecessary body part to be able to buy these again… Concordia destroyed the molds, and Tootsie Roll has nothing to do with them anymore. In short, if you see one, you’ve seen it. I will not buy one, because within five minutes, I would eat it!. Oh, the unaffordable joys of my youth – I actually had a quarter to buy one once… end it was chewed up in five minutes. And it tasted so good!!!!! LOL!

  13. (Here is my comment from the website “www.InThe70’s.com”:

    Terry Maloney – April 05, 2012 – Report this comment
    Here’s the response that I got from Tootsie Roll, who now owns the company which made Wowee Whistles: Terry, thanks for contacting us. We appreciate the interest, but there are no plans to re-introduc the Wowee Whistle at this time. From: Terry Maloney Sent: Saturday, January 28, 2012 10:39 AM To: Andrews, Susan Subject: TRI Website – Contact Request Name Terry Maloney Question Howdy- I am typing in regard to a wax product called the “WOWEE WHISTLE”, which was a wax harmonica sold in the days of my youth around Hallowe’en. I just read an old post that stated Concord Confections was displaying a ‘new’ WOWEE WHISTLE at a 2004 candy convention, and another post that Tootsie Roll Industries now owns Concord. If the latter is true, is the former available? I have searched for the WOWEE WHISTLE for years, to no avail; I, and many others, would be overjoyed if a fond memory was available again! I anxiously await your reply, and hope that time CAN be turned back, if only for a bit of wax! Sincerely, Terry Maloney

  14. Terry, about Concordia destroying the molds. Why oh why would they do that. But designs for the molds must exist somewhere. I started to look for a patent, some I have little experience doing, and I found his name on a patent for a whistle, which was an actual whistle, and not the harmonica shape the Wowee Whistle was. I have to keep looking.

  15. Id love to see it back as well it was a fun candy/toy. I’m not sure if it can be considered a candy but it was way funner than just the wax lips and yes tasted much better. Id chew on it until i thought my jawes were going to lock up.

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