A candy butcher is someone who sells candy, particularly at a fair, carnival, circus, or movie theater.

The origin of the term is unclear, but the most common story is that the first candy butcher was actually a regular meat butcher who took part-time work selling concessions at the Old John Robinson Show sometime before the Civil War, and did so well that he quit his butcher job to become a candy butcher. We don't know if this is true. It is likely that the term came about at least in part because many of these vendors would have large blocks of candies such as toffee and fudge that they would slice up to sell.

The term was in common use in the mid 1800s and early 1900s to refer to street vendors, often young boys, who would carry around trays of candy and other small goods to sell. Thomas Edison worked as a candy butcher on the Grand Trunk Railroad trains as a young boy, circa 1860, as did numerous other young men. For a time people spoke of not only candy butchers but also 'news butchers' for those who hawked primarily newspapers.

Over time, the term came to used more specifically for vendors at circuses and carnivals, and to a lesser extent, at movie theaters. While the term was in use in movie theaters until at least the 1970s, it appears to have pretty much died off since then. Today circus concessioners at a circus may still be referred to as a candy butcher or, more frequently, simply as a butcher. The modern butcher may be selling nearly anything, from souvenirs to drinks; the defining feature is that they carry their wares through the circus' seats before and during the performance.


For the band, see Candy Butchers.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.