WILKES-BARRE – Fall is the time of the year for the arrival of Brach’s candy and their signature product, candy corn. What was once America’s largest assorted candymaker is now known for candy corn in the fall, and jelly beans in the spring.
The Brach’s logo, which has had many unkempt iterations over the last few decades, has finally settled back to its familiar look as a series of six squares, one for each letter, a look it has had at least since the 1950s.
The E.J. Brach & Son brand dates from 1904, when Emil J. Brach opened Brach’s Palace of Sweets in Chicago. It became the largest maker of popular priced candy in the U.S. Through the 20th century, its Pic-a-Mix (spelled as Pick-a-Mix as well) displays in grocery stores offered consumers the ability to get an assortment of candy, all for the same price and at one weight. The candy was in a deep bin, with large scoops. Pic-a-Mix was registered as a trademark in 1962. The idea is also associated with Woolworth’s in the United Kingdom.
At its peak, Brach’s operated a Wonka like campus in Chicago. The factory closed in 2003, part of it blown up for the Batman movie The Dark Knight. Jobs were shipped to Mexico. Today it is an empty piece of property in a declining city, a great loss for the community, state and U.S. candy industry.
The company changed hands multiple times through the 20th century, ending up in the hands of Farley & Sathers, and now the Ferrara Candy Company. They have returned packaging to some of the original Brach’s blocks. On some packaging, the purple appears, though the corn, which sells through Thanksgiving, has the requisite orange and yellow.
Brach’s is not the original maker of candy corn. Candy corn dates from 1898, originally a product of Chicago’s Goelitz Confectionary Company, which made a candy corn called Chicken Feed. Goelitz later introduced the Jelly Belly in 1976. The company, founded in 1869, is now known as Jelly Belly. It is the oldest continuous maker of candy corn, a nutritional food group in the U.S.
Brach’s still makes an assortment of different candies. Ferrara makes dozens of candy brands that it has acquired over the years. They include Sweetarts, Now and Later, Laffy Taffy, Nerds, Lemonhead, Red Hots, Atomic FireBall, Boston Baked Beans, Jujyfruits, Chuckles, Fruit Stripe gum, Original Spree, Pixy Stix, Lik’m’aid Fun Dip, Super Bubble, Nips, Bottle Caps, Funables and Everlasting Gobstopper. Some products were once branded as Wonka, including Everlasting Gobstopper and Nerds. Since 2017, they have been owned by Ferrero of Italy, maker of Tic Tacs. Ferrara also owns the cookie brands Murray, Little Brownie Bakers, Mother’s and Keebler.
Below, some images of the packaging. The trademark for Brach’s shows a 1904 date. There are numerous other Brach’s trademarks through recent decades.