The navy is a world of superstitious beliefs. Don’t carry a white lighter. Don’t whistle while on a powered ship or boat, lest you will anger Neptune and whistle up a storm. Whistling is okay on a sailing vessel as summoning the winds is a good thing.  The ship’s cook is encouraged to whistle though since it means he doesn’t have a mouthful of pilfered food. A hat lost overboard means a long voyage. One of these bizarre superstitions is surrounding the innocent-looking, sweet Charms Candy. If you don’t want to attract all the bad luck while you’re out there, don’t even dare open them.

Charms in MREs

A pack of MREs with Charms Candy. | National Archives, College Park, Maryland

The Charms Candy Company, now owned by Tootsie Roll, was founded in 1912 in Topeka, New Jersey. They won a contract during WWII, and according to them, “Charms lollipops were included in the US Army rations for a source of quick energy for troops fighting abroad,” and so it became one of the staples of military rations. 

A Charming Curse

Charms Candy from WWII.

And so, these little blocks of artificially-flavored corn syrup candies made it into the official MRE packs today as well. It wasn’t long until the Marines began associating these candies with unfortunate events. And they had proof beyond a reasonable (Scientific) doubt!

Rain in Baghdad

As reported by, here’s what happened: