Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Red, White... and blue?

I knew I liked Jayme Goffin. Someone who diapers a sick chicken and brings it in the house to give 24 hour nursing care can't have a mean bone in her body! She's got lots of other qualities but yesterday I found out she is a red blooded American...she posted on Facebook that she was having trouble finding candy canes that were made in the good ol' USA. Since I watch Food Network's Unwrapped all the time a little, I remembered watching a show about Bobs' Candy Canes at their Albany, Georgia plant. Of course I gave Jayme heads up that she can buy them at any Wal-mart but after I Googled the website I realized it's really an American success story. They are the largest candy cane maker in the world,  just go to any Walmart... any drug store... any grocery and you can be certain they stock it during the holidays! 

It took a lot of hard work by a young candy factory worker named Bob McCormack to persuade investors to back his new venture into the candy making business in 1919. He only had a three-person workforce, some secondhand equipment brought in from Birmingham and basic supplies to start Famous Candy Company. Sugar shortages stemming from World War I kept them from making very many candies, initially they made and sold coconut, peanut, stick candy and taffy. Soon chocolate and pecan candies called "Bobs Pe-Kons" and "Bobs Pe-Kon-ettes" were a very popular seller until World War II.

Business was good and one of his investors, Bob Mills, joined to help run the company. Then in 1924 they changed the name to Bobs' Candy Company, sharing the same first name made that decision an easy one! The Great Depression took it's toll on many businesses nationwide but Bobs' Albany candy operation not only survived through the decade but increased the production of low-cost pecan candies, a luxury Southerners continued to budget for as a relief from the strife of poverty. The company changed its name again as a result, calling itself Bobs' Candy & Pecan Company. McCormack also introduced a line of snack foods during the 1930s, selling salted peanuts and peanut butter crackers, items that would help his company stay afloat when the next calamity arrived a decade later.

McCormack barely had the chance to celebrate his fortune at surviving the 1930s when disaster struck. On February 11, 1940 a tornado swept through Albany's business district, killing and injuring more than 500 residents and completely destroying Bobs Candy & Pecan Company. With no insurance, McCormack was forced to start from scratch, again. His good management of funds allowed him to rebuild his business within six months. The company stopped making chocolate candy after the tornado, but introduced a candy bar named "Bobs Tornado Bar," a peanut, coconut, and popcorn bar that was advertised as "worth a dime but costs five cents!" It sold very well, I guess the people of Albany, Georgia had a sense of humor!

WWII came and with it the company faced rationing of sugar and pecans tripled in price causing the company to stop production of the mainstay of many of their products. Once again they fell back on their snack food line to pay the bills. They made the decision to discontinue making their chocolate pecan candies and in 1943 Bobs' Candy and Pecan Company became Bobs' Candy and Peanut Company.

All along the way there were new ideas that helped production, air conditioners to dehumidify the company's wrapping room  and extend hard candy's shelf life, a machine that sealed candy stick in moisture-proof wrappers and his brother in law invented a machine to dispense ribbons of peanut butter on the company's peanut butter crackers. By the end of the 1950's it went from being a regional wholesaler to nationwide. Three generations of McCormacks grew and prospered the company until 2005 when they sold after 86 years to Farleys and Sathers Candy Company, another American company headquartered in Round Lake, Minnesota.

It's just a little candy cane, but it represents so much more!


  1. Hello from a bright sunny, beautifully snowy UK. I don't often praise the UK but today it is like a Christmas card. Your blog is superb and I have signed up to be your latest and newest follower/admirer
    Please drop by and maybe follow me too.
    Warm wishes.
    Carol from
    Last post 'Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

  2. Just nipped back to say thank you so much for following me and your really nice comment. I shall be over a lot to see you. It's prettier at your blog than mine. :)
    Carol from

  3. G'morn Joy ~ I so love this history, one I/we didn't know. I know, we should have looked this wonderful story up. Love the stamina of the success stories behind our good ol' American treasures & goodies ...

    Have a beautiful Christmas ~
    TTFN ~

  4. Loved the history lesson in your post!


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