The American Licorice Company says it hasn’t seen one of these boxes since 1974.
A box of Lic-Ris-Ets
Credit: American Licorice Company

I’m a simple man: I eat candy; I toss (or recycle!) the wrapper. Sure, I’ve collected things in my time—baseball cards, some cool beer labels—but none of them have ever been worth anything. And I’ve definitely never considered saving a candy box. But maybe I should reconsider my policy: A construction company just found a 50-year-old licorice box, and they’ve scored a year’s worth of free Red Vines and other sweets in the process.

According to the American Licorice Company—founded in 1914 and know best known for its iconic Red Vines—the candy maker received an unexpected correspondence recently: A construction company from Washington was doing some work in Tacoma on an office building built in 1968 on Tacoma Avenue South. While demolishing the back of a closet, the team uncovered an empty box of Lic-Ris-Ets—bite-size bits of black licorice rope that were popular in the ‘50s and ‘60s until red licorice stole its thunder—sitting in a wall cavity. “My laborer, Mike Carlson, brought it to me, and I did a little research on the building and your company, then contacted your organization to confirm the age range of the box,” wrote an employee of the construction company.

Turns out the American Licorice Company discontinued Lic-Ris-Ets back in 1974, and since the building was constructed in ’68, that box is somewhere between 46 and 52 years old. Even more remarkable is that the candy company hadn’t saved any boxes from this era. Translation: As far as the American Licorice Company is aware, this may be the only Lic-Ris-Ets box left in existence. “It’s very possible there are other Lic-Ris-Ets boxes out there, but this is the only one that we have heard of in the last 40 years or so,” Clint Christensen, Red Vines product manager, told me via email

Based on the rarity of the box, the American Licorice Company and the construction company made a deal. They sent the rare Lic-Ris-Ets box back to American Licorice headquarters where it’s been framed and hung next to a picture of Clarence Kretchmer, the president of the company during Lic-Ris-Ets’ heyday. In return, American Licorice is gifting the construction team a year’s supply of candy, delivered upon request whenever the previous package has run out. “American Licorice Co. is a fifth-generation family owned company, so the Lic-Ris-Ets box is a very nostalgic thing for many people at the company who remember when that box was still produced in San Francisco,” Christensen added. “We are very fortunate to have such a unique piece of the company’s history returned to us.”

Meanwhile, might I also suggest the construction team put one of those new licorice boxes back into the closet wall cavity—kind of a “pay it forward” thing for someone 50 years down the road.