What are now and laters made of?

Now and Laters are a popular chewy candy that has been around since the 1960s. The fruity, colorful squares are known for their bright packaging and long-lasting flavor. But what exactly goes into making these classic candies? Here’s a look at the ingredients and manufacturing process behind Now and Laters.

The History of Now and Laters

Now and Laters were first invented in the early 1960s by the Phoenix, Arizona based Candy Company. The name “Now and Later” refers to the fact that the candy can be eaten right away (“now”) or saved to enjoy later. The original Now and Later flavors were cherry, lemon, lime, watermelon, root beer, and apple.

Throughout the 1960s and 70s, Now and Laters became immensely popular, especially among children and teens. They were one of the first candies to be individually wrapped, making them convenient to carry around and share with friends. The fun, youthful packaging also appealed to younger audiences.

In the 1980s, the Now and Later brand was acquired by the Ferrara Candy Company, who continues to make the iconic candy today. Over the years, numerous new Now and Later flavors have been introduced, like blue raspberry, green apple, grape, strawberry, pineapple, mango, and banana. However, the classic cherry, lemon, lime, and watermelon remain fan favorites.

Main Ingredients

Now and Laters have a short and simple ingredient list. Their primary ingredients include:

  • Sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Modified food starch
  • Malic acid
  • Artificial flavors
  • Artificial colors (FD&C colors)

Let’s take a closer look at each of these key ingredients:


Sugar is the very first ingredient listed, which makes sense given Now and Laters’ reputation for being extremely sweet. The sugar used is likely cane sugar or beet sugar.

Corn syrup

Corn syrup gives Now and Laters their signature chewy, gummy texture. It acts as a binding agent and adds sweetness, moisture, and viscosity to the candy.

Modified food starch

Modified starches, derived from corn, potato, or tapioca, also contribute to the gummy texture. They help thicken the candies and prevent them from crystallizing.

Malic acid

Malic acid provides Now and Laters with their tart, fruity flavor. Many fruits naturally contain high levels of malic acid, which is why it’s often used to flavor candies.

Artificial flavors

The various Now and Later flavors like cherry, watermelon, and apple come from artificial flavorings designed in labs to replicate the taste of real fruit flavors.

Artificial colors

FD&C colors are artificial dyes and pigments approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in foods, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices. The bright colors give each Now and Later flavor a signature, vibrant look.

Manufacturing Process

Now and Laters go through a complex manufacturing process before arriving in their classic paper packages:

  1. The sugar, corn syrup, and a portion of the water are first combined in large boilers and heated to around 275°F. This dissolves the sugars and forms a syrup base.
  2. In a separate container, the rest of the water is mixed with the modified food starch until smooth and lump-free.
  3. The sugar syrup and food starch mixture are blended together in boiling tanks and cooked for about 15 minutes.
  4. Flavorings, colors, and citric or malic acid are added for taste and appeal.
  5. The thick candy substance moves through a series of stainless steel pipes and cooling tunnels to lower the temperature.
  6. The cooled candy then goes into extruders that shape it into long, continuous ropes.
  7. The ropes are cut into small, bite-sized pieces by rotating blades.
  8. The candy pieces are coated with a glaze of confectioner’s sugar or cornstarch to prevent sticking.
  9. The pieces run through packaging equipment that wraps each one in wax paper.
  10. A machine groups the wrapped candies into rolls and cuts them to the appropriate length.
  11. The rolls are manually wrapped in the branded plastic-backed paper packaging.

From cooking and forming to wrapping, the Now and Later manufacturing process utilizes specialized candy-making equipment and machinery. It ultimately churns out millions of individual Now and Later pieces for distribution worldwide.

Quality Control and Safety

Candy companies have strict quality control and safety protocols in place during manufacturing. For a product like Now and Laters, this may include:

  • Inspection of raw ingredients for freshness and purity
  • Use of FDA-approved ingredients and colors
  • Precise cooking temperatures and times
  • Equipment calibration to ensure accuracy
  • Metal detection to check for foreign objects
  • Microbial testing for pathogens like salmonella
  • Moisture analysis to confirm proper texture
  • Weight checks to ensure correct sizing

Additionally, the facilities where Now and Laters are produced must meet food safety regulations for cleanliness, employee training, and pest control. Following current Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) is essential.

Nutrition Facts

A single wrapped Now and Later contains around 22 calories, with the following nutrition information:

Amount Per Piece
Calories: 22
Total Fat: 0 g
Sodium: 2 mg
Total Carbs: 6 g
Sugars: 4 g
Protein: 0 g

As you can see, a Now and Later is almost entirely sugar and carbohydrates, with minimal fat, sodium, or protein. The ingredients and nutrition info must be displayed on the exterior product packaging by law.

Common Flavors

While Now and Laters originally launched with just 6 flavors, there are now over 25 unique flavors available. Here are some of the most popular:


Cherry is the classic Now and Later flavor. It has a sweet, almond-like cherry taste.


Watermelon Now and Laters have a sweet, juicy flavor with notes of zesty lime.


The concord grape flavor delivers big, bold jammy grape taste.

Green Apple

Tart and tangy green apple Now and Laters have a crisp, fresh flavor.

Blue Raspberry

Blue raspberry Now and Laters feature a sweet, creamy blue flavor with no actual raspberry.


The strawberry Now and Laters have a distinct fruity, jam-like strawberry taste.


Pineapple Now and Laters offer a bright, tropical pineapple flavor.


Smooth, mellow banana Now and Laters resemble the flavor of ripe bananas.

Special Editions

Now and Laters frequently release special limited edition flavors for holidays and events. Some examples include:

  • Candy Corn for Halloween
  • Gingerbread for Christmas
  • Neon flavors for summer
  • Sour flavors
  • All-pink flavors for Valentine’s Day

These special flavors allow Now and Later to offer unique twists while still sticking to their classic chewy candy formula.


One of the most iconic parts of Now and Laters is their fun, colorful packaging. Each roll of Now and Laters comes wrapped in paper featuring the brand name in bubble letters across the front. The actual Now and Later pieces inside are individually wrapped in simple wax paper.

Over the years, Now and Later has updated its packaging aesthetics but kept key branding elements like the logo and color-block design. Limited editions may get unique packaging, like all pink for Valentine’s Day. But the standard packaging remains familiar to fans across generations.

Storage and Shelf Life

Now and Laters have an exceptionally long shelf life of 2-3 years if stored properly. Keeping them in a cool, dry place away from heat and sunlight will maintain optimum freshness and prevent drying out. Many people remember finding Now and Laters in their school lockers or camp cubbies months later—still fresh enough to enjoy!

For best quality, try to eat Now and Laters within a year or two of production. While they last a long time, their texture can become stiff if aged too long. Always check the best by date on the label when purchasing.

Popularity and Brand Recognition

Now and Laters have maintained steady popularity over the last 50+ years. While not as ubiquitous as brands like Skittles or Starburst, Now and Laters have a loyal following of candy lovers who grow up enjoying their distinct fruity flavors, colors, shapes, and packaging.

Musicians and celebrities have referenced Now and Laters in lyrics and interviews, adding to their pop culture status. Overall, Now and Later is well recognized as an established candy brand, now owned by Ferrara Candy Company. The bite-sized chews bring nostalgia along with their sweet-tart taste.

Nutritional Concerns

Like most candies, Now and Laters have little nutritional value. Their main ingredients are various forms of sugar, followed by starch, artificial flavors, and colors. Each piece contains about 4 grams of sugar—so eating multiple pieces can quickly add up in sugar and calories.

Some parents and health experts discourage frequent Now and Later consumption due to their high sugar and low nutritional content. Moderation is key, as too much candy can contribute to problems like cavities, obesity, and diabetes. Consider Now and Laters an occasional treat, not an everyday snack.

Fun Facts

  • The original flavors of Now and Laters in the 1960s were only available in packs of 6, one of each flavor.
  • Preliminary names for Now and Laters included Eat ‘Em Now and Eat ‘Em Later.
  • A cartoon mascot named Nowler promoted Now and Laters in early print ads.
  • In 1982, the Now and Later jingle said the candies were “Chewy, fruity, so delicious!”
  • Mello Yello soda featured a Now and Later flavored drink in 2020.
  • Pieces that get stuck together are called “bondeds” in the manufacturing process.
  • In 2013, a 248-foot long Now and Later rope was created at a Ferrara candy factory.


Now and Laters are a classic candy that have been delighting fans since the 1960s. Their sweet-tart chewy flavor comes from simple sugary ingredients like corn syrup, malic acid, and artificial colors and flavors. Now offered in over 25 fruity varieties, Now and Laters are a nostalgic treat packed with color and fun. While not the healthiest choice, enjoyed in moderation, these little fruit-flavored squares bring back memories of school lunches, road trips, and stealing candy from friends. For candy lovers, Now and Laters are a delightful part of growing up—that you don’t necessarily have to outgrow.

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