The Abel family announced the purchase Monday, highlighting its push to expand over the last couple years to serve its half-dozen retail stores and local and national wholesale customers, along with a growing base of contract manufacturing clients.
“We have invested millions into our manufacturing infrastructure in the last 24 months, (the) timing was perfect to add a legendary company like Bissinger’s to our portfolio,” said Dan Abel Sr., president and ceo of Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Co.
Tim Fogerty, previous owner and ceo of Bissinger’s, made the decision to leave the chocolate business to focus on 23 City Blocks Hospitality Group, which owns and operates local venues such as Lumen Private Event Space, The Chocolate Pig and The Caramel Room, which is on the fourth floor of Bissinger’s former manufacturing space.
Dan Abel Jr., v.p. of operations and son of Dan Abel Sr., said his family began exploring the possibility of acquiring the Bissinger’s brand and associated confectionery manufacturing equipment in early 2019. Terms of the transaction, which closed in June, were not disclosed.
Manufacturing of Bissinger’s chocolate truffles and gummy pandas will move to CCC’s facility in The Hill, an Italian neighborhood on St. Louis’ west side. The Abels purchased from Bissinger’s a mixer originally used by Karl Bissinger, tempering and melting units, a French creme starch mogul line, a caramel cutter, bar moulds, and boxing, bagging and wrapping lines.
The Abels also purchased Karl Bissinger’s original desk. The remaining equipment is being auctioned by Union Confectionery Machinery and Rabin Worldwide.
After conducting interviews, the Abel family offered positions to roughly two-thirds of Bissinger’s staff, with the majority agreeing to transition. Furthermore, the Bissinger’s factory store has closed, but the Bissinger’s store at Plaza Frontenac, a high-end shopping center, will remain open.
The Abel family moved the Bissinger’s equipment to the CCC facility during a planned shutdown over the week of June 24, with production of Bissenger’s product resuming in July.
Dan Abel Jr. noted the companies will retain separate identities but will still share a commitment to quality.
Founded in 1981 by Dan Abel Sr. and his wife, Rosalie, CCC has experienced significant growth over the last decade. Since moving to The Hill in 2012, CCC has installed three Knobel depositing lines to produce chocolate bars, bites and other moulded pieces. The Abels moved CCC’s warehouse and distribution center three doors down from its production facility last year, bringing total operational space to 55,000 sq. ft.
In 2009, the Abel family purchased Lake Forest Confections, another high-end chocolate brand. That same year, the Abel family purchased and started producing Mavrakos, a traditional, yet then-dormant St. Louis brand.
Meanwhile, Bissinger family accounts suggest their confections were enjoyed by nobles in 17th century France, so much so that King Louis the XIV granted the Bissingers the title “Confiseur Imperial,” or Confectioner of the Empire.
Karl Frederick Bissinger brought the family’s trade and confectionery secrets to the United States in 1845, settling just outside Cincinnati, Ohio. His son, also named Karl, relocated Bissinger’s to St. Louis in 1927.
Bissinger’s moved from St. Louis’ central-west side to a century-old, 223,000-sq.-ft. building near the city’s riverfront in 2014. A former Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad freight depot, the building also served the defunct Switzer Candy Co.
The St. Louis Post- Dispatch reported Bissinger’s invested $11 million in the facility, developing 85,000 sq. ft. of production and warehousing space and 38,000 sq. ft. for offices and The Caramel Room.