Candy importer and manufacturer David E. Babiarz, a leader in the candy industry for more than 40 years, passed away peacefully Sept. 1 at home from complications of diabetes. He was 61.

Emil Babiarz, David’s father and business partner, started a small candy and gourmet foods import business named Dae Julie in 1958. The name originated from Emil’s two children, David and Julie.

Early in the 1960s, David and Emil were among the first to import gummies into the United States, David realized there was an opportunity to capitalize on the growth in the popularity of the new gummies category and convinced Emil to build a 120,000-sq.-ft., state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Chicagoland in 1990.

 Under the name of Candy Land Candies, the company began producing gummies in Des Plaines, Ill. During its peak, Candy Land Candies produced gummies on three moguls, running a three-shift operation, five days per week, making it the largest private label gummi manufacturer in the United States.

In 1997, Dae Julie and Candy Land Candies were sold to Favorite Brands International, an investment group. David, being a true “candy man” at heart, realized an opportunity and started a new company called Candy Tech several years later.

Along with continuing to import candy from all over the world, David invested in extrusion manufacturing to produce Sour Belts in Buffalo Grove, Ill. In 2000 David decided to concentrate Candy Tech’s future on the import side of the business and sold the manufacturing business to Van Melle Candy of Holland.

Realizing his love for the gummi business, David once again tackled a start up venture. In 2006, he built a gummi manufacturing business in Tianjin, China. (See Candy Industry, Jan. 2007).

While away from work, David was a devoted family man. He was extremely dedicated to his family and close friends. An avid and passionate golfer, David appreciated the good shot. He had a great love of music and was a huge Chicago Bears fan.

Babiarz is survived by his wife Barbara (nee Berger); daughters Barbara Jane (Lennart) Steiner and Jennifer (Scott) Morvig; son David Jr. (Katie) Babiarz; and sister Julie (Christopher) Lopatowski.