While there are several thousand businesses in the Philadelphia area, few elicit the type of fond memories of a carefree youth like Zitner’s. Its trademark “bunny” on the boxes is a tradition at drug stores, grocery stores and convenience stores throughout the area. The popular candy company has been tantalizing taste buds since 1922 when Sam and Annie Zitner began selling the chocolates they made in their home.
That kind of reputation has elicited a special relationship for those who have had stewardship of the company. For example, Leon Sherman, the Zitner’s nephew, oversaw the operation for more than half a century after he took charge in 1936.
His death brought about a change of hands. Sidney Rosenblatt, executive v.p. and cfo, of Universal Display Corp., purchased the company in 1990 and ran it for another 20 years. During that time, the company remained focused on using high quality ingredients and many of the original recipes.
In 2010, Rosenblatt sold the company, selling to its current president, Evan Prochniak, and co-owners Kenneth Schuster and Sam Sherman. As expected, Zitner’s history and tradition completely enveloped Prochniak.
Ironically, according to a 2011 Philadelphia Inquirer article, Prochniak wasn’t initially interested in purchasing the business; rather he was looking at the building for redevelopment. The opportunity, however, to own a piece of Philadelphia candy legacy, that is theZitner Butter Krak Egg, proved impossible to resist.
The Butter Krak egg consists of a buttercream and coconut center covered in toasted coconut and dark chocolate. The treat was invented by company co-founder Annie Zitner in the 1930s and is unique to Zitner, probably because it’s difficult to make.
Other flavors are also available, of course, such as Butter Cream, Coconut Cream, Double Coconut, Peanut Butter and Marshmallow. From Valentines Day up until Easter, Zitner’s products are available for customers who wait eagerly for their Zitner “fix”. The Zitner’s egg has become as much a part of the Philadelphia Easter tradition as Easter egg hunts and jelly beans.
This year, Zitner’s has introduced a Christmas Delights product line, which includes Peppermint Cream, Raspberry Cream, Caramel and Peanut Buttter.
If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one kind of candy, what would it be?
Zitner’s Butter Krak, of course.
What’s the last cool thing you saw online?
Love to watch the live feed of Earth from the space station — so humbling.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
What’s the last book you read?
New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.
What issues concern you most about the confectionery industry and why?
Sustainability of raw materials as well as population growth.
What is your pet peeve?
If given the chance to choose anyone, whom would you like to collaborate with?
Elon Musk, ceo and cto of SpaceX.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Work hard but make sure to set aside real quality time with your family. I look forward to our family vacations all year.
What excites you most about your job?
The happiness our candy brings to people. I get so many emails actually thanking me for making such delicious candy.