What are Wax Lips?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Wax lips are a novelty candy made from food-grade paraffin wax which has been flavored, dyed red, and molded into the form of a pair of oversized lips. This candy has been used in practical jokes since the early twentieth century, and many candy stores stock some form of wax lips, especially if they specialize in nostalgic candy items. It is also possible to order wax lips directly from a variety of candy distributors, although you may want to consider the season when you order, as this candy is very prone to melting.

Two young boys
Two young boys

The history of wax lips starts with the American Candy Company, which was founded in the late 1800s. In the early 1900s, the company established a niche for itself by making an assortment of wax novelty candies, which were designed to be enjoyed and then used like gum. Wax lips turned out to be a popular offering, and many people who grew up in the middle of the 20th century recall wax lips with great fondness. In 2002, the company faced bankruptcy, due to changes in the candy industry, and it was purchased by Canadian-based Concord Confections, which was acquired by Tootsie Roll Industries in 2004.

Tootsie Roll Industries produces wax lips under the “Wack-O-Wax” lips label, along with other wax gag gifts like wax fangs for would-be vampires. Sales of the lips tend to do particularly well around Halloween, when they often appear in children's costumes. Tootsie Roll's wax lips are typically flavored with cherry, and they have the same slightly granular texture which many people associate with the original American Candy Company confection.

The mold for wax lips includes a flat bite plate in the back of the lips, making it easy for people to grip the lips between their teeth. The effect is often quite comic, especially on a small face, with the outrageously large lips seeming quite silly and very out of proportion. Given the flavor and texture of wax lips, many people use them exclusively for fun, discarding them when they are finished rather than chewing them as a gum.

The formula for Wack-O-Wax lips is proprietary, although with a bit of hunting, you can probably find several imitators on the market. In all cases, the paraffin wax they are made with is designed to be safe to chew, but it probably should not be swallowed in large quantities. Because paraffin cannot be digested, it generally travels through the intestinal tract without creating a noticeable effect, but large chunks could cause discomfort. Food grade paraffin, incidentally, is used in the production of many other candies, and also to coat cheeses.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@momothree: I used to love those little wax bottles! And yes, they do still make them. A company called Sathers still makes them. You bite the top, drink the juice, and chew on the wax.


Does anyone remember those small wax "bottles" that had liquid in them? You would bite on the top of it and the juice would come out. Do they still make those?

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