Over the last 10 years, Candy Industry has covered countless confectionery manufacturers. And while each article that resulted from those factory visits offered important insight into the industry, these 10 stories were especially interesting. 

Take a look at what we consider the most compelling stories from the last decade, and we hope you’ll read each one as your prepare for the decade to come. 

And yes, we know, technically the new decade doesn’t start until 2021, but we hope you’ll allow us some poetic leeway as well all get ready to enter the new Roaring 20s!

2019: Hershey


How the 125-year-old Hershey Company continues to innovate

The candy company is launching stand-up packaging for 150 items and pushing the industry forward in digital commerce and marketing.

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“When Hershey was designing its new stand-up packaging, it was looking for more than just a beautiful bag for the store shelf — it also had to be beautiful on a cell phone screen.

“The packaging needs to be seen on a 5-inch screen, but it also needs to be easily identifiable in the same way from about 20 feet,” explains Doug Straton, chief digital commerce officer for The Hershey Company. “If you don’t merchandise the digital shelf correctly, people may choose not to shop with you in the digital or the physical store.”

It’s just one example of how the 125-old-company is constantly thinking about the latest technology and innovation.”

Read the full story here

2018: Chuao Chocolatier


Chuao Chocolatier aims to spread joy through chocolate

Chef Michael Antonorsi co-founded Chuao Chocolatier in 2002 after winding journey.

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Designed by Isabella [Michael’s wife], an architect, and San Diego-based Ocio Design Group, the 30,000-sq.-ft. space serves as a hotbed for creativity, collaboration and community. In addition to hosting corporate and private events, Chuao offers guided tours and truffle-rolling sessions.

Bringing customers and chocolate lovers to the factory was paramount, Antonorsi said.

“We who are here every day take it for granted because we’re here every day,” he said. “When you see the faces of people coming in, their smiles, it’s just energy that flows in our direction and lifts our hearts.”

Read the full story here!

2017: Vosges


Vosges' Katrina Markoff: Chocolate's artisanal alchemist

Attention to ingredients allows Vosges Haut Chocolate founder Katrina Markoff to create evocative, trend-setting chocolates.

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“I’ve been travelling for four weeks, and this is the first time I’ve gotten back home for any real length of time,” Katrina Markoff, founder and ceo of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, tells me. And where has she been, I ask?

“I just came back from Kauai in Hawaii, visiting an herbal farm, which grows medicinal herbs such as turmeric, ginger, tulsi,” she replies excitedly, albeit in a still jet-lagged cadence. The Kauai Farmacy, founded in 2010, focuses on growing medicinal plants, using only composted manure and planting multiple species in a “symbiotic” manner, Markoff explains.

Read the full story here!

2016: Russell Stover

Russell Stover

Russell Stover: How the chocolate company is evolving since being bought by Lindt

In acquiring Russell Stover Candies, Lindt & Sprüngli executives were impressed by the company's strong brands, its leadership positions in key categories and "content over noise" culture.

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On July 14, 2014, when the Lindt & Sprüngli Group announced that it was acquiring Russell Stover Candies, the news raised some eyebrows within the U.S. chocolate market. While few were surprised to hear that the Kansas City chocolate manufacturer was acquired — the industry knew Russell Stover was on the block — the final deal generated closer scrutiny from not only industry participants, but observers as well.

But for Lindt & Sprüngli, the acquisition marked the company’s “Biggest and most important strategic acquisition to date,” emphasized Ernst Tanner, chairman of the Lindt & Sprüngli Board of Directors and Group CEO. It was, as he added, “A unique opportunity for us to expand our North American chocolate business and will greatly enhance the group’s status as the leader in premium chocolate in the world’s biggest marketplace.”

Read the full story here!

2015: Promotion in Motion

Russell Stover

Flying High: An in-depth look at Michael Rosenberg's Promotion in Motion

Michael G. Rosenberg, president and ceo of The Promotion In Motion Cos. and this year’s recipient of the Kettle Award, not only gets close and personal with readers, he also provides them with an aerial view of where the company is headed.

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Growth, even double-digit growth, has never been an issue for The Promotion In Motion Cos., Inc. (PIM). Named twice in the past three years by the Boston Consulting Group as one of the Top 10 fastest growing CPG companies in the United States within the billion dollars and under sales category, PIM has been on an extremely fast track for the last five, say even ten years.

Thus, when the company’s sales gains were released last year, on the low end of the double-digit range, one would have expected the usual “high fives” being passed throughout the offices.

That wasn’t the case, says Michael Rosenberg, president and ceo of PIM. “People were looking around and wondering what happened,” he says.

Well, sweet and swift success is what happened. Perhaps, too swiftly.

“It was a lack of capacity,” Rosenberg explains. Sales were outpacing production. “We were shipping everything we were making, just pushing product out the door.” 

Read the full story here!

2014: Mars


Standing Tall In Topeka: An in-depth look at Mars' first U.S. plant in 35 years

Designed to accommodate growth for the next 50 years, the $270 million, 500,000-sq.-ft. plant incorporates sustainable design and engineering elements.

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As the car approaches the building — a colossal combination of glass and concrete — it quickly becomes evident that this is a Mars Chocolate North America manufacturing facility. The large plastic M&M’S Characters protruding from the outside walls immediately convey the message that candy is produced here. 

That message is reinforced upon coming to the front door where a bright, green, 36-ft. diameter wide M&M’S branded canopy shelters Mars associates and visitors from the Kansan elements. Once security clears the visitor, a familiar layout takes charge, an open area consisting of individual desks without walls — it’s a Mars trademark throughout the globe.

But this is the plant of the future, so there are quite a few new bells and whistles. For example, the cafeteria is located in an expansive hall, which has one large wall of windows providing a view of the buffalo grass-seeded landscape inherent to the Great Plains.

Daylight pours into the cafeteria uninhibited, a precursor of what visitors find in the manufacturing areas. Bret Spangler, site director – Topeka, Mars Chocolate North America, explains that even the menu in the cafeteria has also been “enlightened” to include healthier choices. It’s just one of the many elements that went into the design and construction of the company’s newest flagship.

Read the full story here!

2013: Warrell Corp.


Sweet Gravitas: Patrick Huffman, of the Warrell Corp. and winner of Candy Industry's Kettle Award, gives an inside look at his company

Huffman's straightforward, no-nonsense directive has helped the Warrell Corp. flourish.

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Visitors to Patrick Huffman’s office can’t help but notice several of the awards he’s gathered during his 40-plus years in the confectionery industry. There’s the Stroud Jordan award from the American Association of Candy Technologists (AACT) he picked up in 1992. Next to it sits the National Confectioners Association’s Distinguished Service Award, which he received in 2010.

This year, Huffman, president and coo of the Warrell Corp., became the 68th Kettle Award recipient. The copper kettle mounted on a walnut base beams brightly on the same shelf. And later this year, he will be inducted into the Candy Hall of Fame.

But anyone who’s met Huffman or worked with him realizes Huffman doesn’t do what he does in order to fill up a trophy case. If there ever was a “candy man’s candy man,” then Huffman fills the bill. As David Hess, v.p. of operations for the Warrell Corp. and himself an experienced candy maker and executive plainly states, “Pat’s the best I’ve met in the industry. He has character, business ability and technical expertise. Many people have two out of three; he’s has all three.”

Read the full story here!

2012: Jelly Belly

Jelly Belly

The Jelly Belly Wai

A look at Jelly Belly Candy Co.'s manufacturing facility in Thailand, and how the candy company decided to locate there.

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First-time visitors to Thailand, particularly those that haven’t done any research on the country or culture, are often amazed to find miniature houses standing in front of homes, hotels, high-rise offices and business headquarters.

These “spirit houses” are meant to provide a home for the spirits of the land displaced by human structures. Building a home for these displaced spirits shows that the new inhabitants respect the spirits of the land. In this manner, humans curry their favor for protection against evil and bad luck while simultaneously soliciting the benevolence these spirits can dispense.

Herm Rowland Jr. has come to acknowledge and respect the power of local customs and traditions. As the managing director for Jelly Belly Candy Co. (Thailand) Ltd. explains, when the company began construction on the 6.5 acres of land in Thailand’s Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate in December 2006, it was experiencing an extraordinary string of common building delays.

Noting that the work had begun without the installation of a spirit house on site, the company arranged to correct the oversight. A Buddhist monk was called in and a spirit house was purchased to be placed in a location, a spot where it would never be in the shadow of the new building. Then the proper rituals were performed.

Shortly thereafter, work progressed on the site with a lot less difficulty.

Read the full story here!

2011: Ghirardelli


Ghirardelli Chocolate Co. is 'punching up premium'

As one of the leaders in the premium chocolate segment, Ghirardelli Chocolate Co. looks to expand the category with innovative products and marketing support.

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In case you haven’t noticed, premium chocolate’s back. In fact, it never went away, points out Marty Thompson, Ghirardelli’s recently appointed president and ceo. True, there was a shakeout following the recession, but category leaders, such as Ghirardelli, never wavered.

Rather, sales for the company grew. Last year, the company posted a 13.4% gain. From 2005 through 2010, company sales shot up 75%. Currently, grocery sales are tracking 12% higher year-to-date. National accounts, which include mass merchandisers, drug store chains and club stores are delivering double-digit growth as well.

Thompson attributes such strong sales gains to several factors, one key being the company’s commitment to the category and its insistence on delivering consistent quality while serving up innovations in product launches, operational improvements and merchandising/marketing support. Another key is Ghirardelli’s employees – “the skills and passion of this team is incredible,” he says.

Read the full story here!

2010: Pez


Working the PEZ Plan

Upgrades in manufacturing and warehousing support PEZ Candy’s incredible growth in the confectionery novelty segment.

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It’s been an ongoing argument. Is PEZ Candy, Inc. a candy company or a toy company? The fruit-flavored sugar tablets certainly qualify as candy, while the reliable dispensers featuring nearly 300 different characters and icons have made it an interactive novelty in the United States since 1953. 

But given the company’s success in rotating between 10 and 12 assortments on a yearly basis — not counting seasonal as well as “favorites” rotations — the company certainly could be classified as a logistics wizard.

“We’re masters of the schedule,” Joe Vittoria, president and ceo of Orange, Conn.-based company asserts. “No one has the scheduling we have.” And, perhaps more importantly, no one executes it like PEZ does.

Read the full story here!