The peak of the spring chocolate season in WNY is here. Once Mothers’ Day is behind us, many of the small chocolate manufacturers/shops close for the summer while the larger manufacturers stay open all year round. But for now, production continues at a frenetic pace for all.
In the February 2012 edition of Buffalo Spree, Elizabeth Licata assembled a timeline for WNY’s chocolate industry.* The Fowlers Chocolates website chronicles its start in WNY In 1901 when Joseph Fowler relocated to Buffalo from Canada to create and sell chocolate confections and sweets at the Pan American Exposition. Following success at the exposition Joseph and his brother Claude opened a small candy shop to pursue the business of candy making.
In 1920, August Merckens purchased the Reed Chocolate Factory on the West Side and incorporated it as the Merkens Chocolate Company. Merkens’ chocolate is known for its high-quality melting chocolate used by many other chocolatiers and confectioners. Many of us look for the name Merkens when we purchase our chocolates.
Over the next several decades, chocolate manufacturers, such as Niagara Chocolates, Watson’s Candies, Platter’s, The Betty Dixon Candy Company in Jamestown and Ko-Ed Candies started operations in WNY. In fact The Buffalo News reported that Lucille Ball worked at The Betty Dixon Candy Company as a teenager and her experience influenced the I Love Lucy classic, “The Candy Factory.”***
Insyte has helped many of WNY’s chocolatiers with operational and strategic issues that all manufacturers face. One of our customers, Watson’s Candies, showed their process for manufacturing sponge candy on The Food Network.****
As you fill your loved ones’ Easter baskets this week, remember the proud tradition of this industry in WNY.