Buds, Kisses and the Roots of Pop Art

The Wilbur Cocoa Company Concession Booth at the Sesquicentennial Exhibition in South Philadelphia, 1926.

The Society Hill based H.O. Wilbur & Sons Chocolate Company started making and selling Wilbur Buds in 1894. The lookalike Hershey Kiss was first marketed in 1907. There are differences.

Unlike the Hershey Kiss, the Wilbur Bud is sold in both milk and dark chocolate. Buds are not individually wrapped. Plus, each is impressed with the molded name of its maker.

One might argue that the Kiss has long been the runaway winner in terms of candy making and marketing. But in 1926, the Bud had an innovative moment that should be remembered in another context.

The oversized Bud atop the Wilbur concession booth at the Sesquicentennial was decades ahead of its time. a precursor to the Pop Art movement. It was akin to the even larger, 80-foot electrified model of the Liberty Bell, also prominent on the Sesquicentennial grounds.

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