Perhaps you were once taught that you should never play with your food. But what if your food was also a nifty jigsaw puzzle? Better yet, what if it was also a disassembled candy skeleton contained within a plastic coffin? Such was the case with Mr. Bones, a novelty item created by Fleer in 1977 that remained popular for decades.
Mr. Bones was the brainchild of a man named Vero Ricci, who created some very memorable plastic candy containers back in the day. After designing those little plastic garbage cans filled with candy for Topps, he turned his attention to something a little more morbid, the plastic coffin. Produced in a variety of colors, each box contained an assortment of candy pieces that were shaped like various human bones. The box also contained a small plastic loop at one end, should you want to turn your eternal receptacle into some fashionable Gothic jewelry.
The flavor of the candy was somewhat forgettable, just your typical dextrose-based, fruit-flavored pressed powder, with a taste and texture somewhere between a Pez tablet and a SweeTart. The shape of the candy, on the other hand, was quite memorable. Each piece resembled a crude rendition of part of the skeletal system. These pieces interlocked like a jigsaw puzzle, and if you had all fifteen, you could create Mr. Bones, the namesake of this confection.
This turned out to be easier said than done, however, as each coffin didn’t always contain a full set of pieces. You needed a pelvis, rib cage, head, two shoulder blades, upper and lower arm on each side, and three pieces each for the legs. Thankfully, it usually only took a couple of coffins before you had all the parts necessary to construct your creepy friend. And, after all of the candy was eaten, you were still left with a plastic coffin that could be used for an accessory with your other toys, like maybe your KISS Dolls needed a coffin on stage or you needed a place to store a Creepy Crawler or two.
Fleer sold Mr. Bones candy well into the 90s before discontinuing the item. A few knockoffs have appeared over the years, but none with the same level of detail as the original, which is fondly remembered by millions of kids who, for once, were allowed to play with their food, in a cannibalistic sort of way.