“One Hundred Thousand Dollars” sure has a nice ring to it. It connotes images of a new car, a fancy wardrobe, a vacation to Monte Carlo, a…candy bar? Well, if a merger of crispy rice, caramel and chocolate is your idea of elegance, this chewy confection is a luxury worthy of indulgence.
Nestlé introduced the $100,000 Bar in 1966. Inspired by television quiz shows like The Big Surprise, whose top prize was one hundred thousand dollars, the new candy bar was so named to encourage associations with luxury and indulgence, a deluxe prize that could be claimed by anyone with a whole fifteen cents to spend.
The $100,000 Bar was a single slab of chocolate, crisped rice, and a generous layer of caramel (At least until 1984, when the bar was divided into two smaller, sharable segments). TV ads often featured eager young people taking a bite and then stretching the caramel away from their mouths in a goopy ribbon.
By 1985, the name of the candy bar itself seemed like a mouthful. The term “grand” (meaning “thousand”) was in common usage and widely understood, so Nestlé re-introduced the product as 100 Grand. It was easier to say, and just as easy to enjoy.
And yet, to its loyal fans, winning a 100 Grand bar wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Sure, it won’t put the kids through college or a Mercedes in the driveway, but it will ensure that you get to sink your teeth into some sublime caramel decadence. That’s got to be worth something.
Several radio stations took advantage of this name change, holding contests in which they promised listeners who came to the station that they would win “a Hundred Grand!” Excited contestants showed up and got a candy bar, instead of the riches they were expecting. One woman in Kentucky brought a lawsuit in response to such a contest, and the trend died out to nobody’s regret.