Dorri Partain

If there’s still candy rustling in the bottom of the trick-or-treat bag, the remainder may be better suited for the tastes of adults instead of children.
This coffee-flavored candy was originally named Pearson’s Coffee Nips. The Pearson Candy Company of Culver City, Calif. was founded in 1928 by Russian immigrant Barney Pearson, hand-crafting hard sugar confections like lollipops and candy canes.

Barney’s son Dan, formerly an accountant, took over the helm of the company, and designed new machinery to increase candy production. The Candy Forming Apparatus, patented in 1961, mechanized the production of candy canes with one machine that would size, twist, cut and bend the candy into the desired shape.

Following that, he worked with food chemist Claude Barnett to develop an idea for a new flavor. Working with a hard caramel base, they experimented with adding coffee to create a candy that could be enjoyed instead of the usual office-environment coffee break.

Following its introduction in the mid-1960’s, Coffee Nips became Pearson’s number one product, so other flavors were developed; plain caramel and licorice, also named “nips.” The packaging mimicked high-quality European candies, with a gold foil wrapper inside the double-twist cellophane wrapper.

Like all small candy companies, Pearson’s was purchased by larger companies – first by Nabsico in 1982, then Nestle in 1989, but still labeled as Pearson’s Coffee Nips. When Ferrara purchased Nestle in 2019, Pearson’s was dropped from the packaging to simply refer to the candy as Nips.

Coffee is still a main ingredient, along with corn syrup, sugar, reduced fat milk, hydrogenated coconut oil, whey, and soy lecithin. Two 30-calories pieces provide 6 milligrams of caffeine.