The oldest candy company in the United States is said to be Ye Olde Pepper Candy Company in Salem, MA. I grew up in Saint Louis. When I was a teenager, I passed Merb’s Candies on Grand Avenue every day on my way to school and thought that it was the oldest candy company around. It was, in St. Louis. Merb’s is still around with a retail operation at 4000 South Grand Avenue. Merb’s is still home to the Bionic Apple and has been part of the St. Louis scene since 1921.
This summer I decided to do a series on very old companies that have been in existence for a very long time and aren’t conventionally famous. I discovered Enstrom Candies in Grand Junction, CO and thought I had discovered my first entry. Chet and Vernie, a true confectionary family, started Enstrom’s when they moved to Grand Junction to start a new business. The Jones-Enstrom Ice Cream Company got under way in 1929. Its spawn is still in business and will be 100-years-old in 8 years.
St. Louis is home to some very old sweet-selling companies like Ted Drewes and Crown Candy Kitchen. I have written about both. Crown went into business in 1913 and still makes its own chocolate candy. Ted Drewes sells traditional frozen custard at 2 locations. The one at 6726 Chippewa in South St. Louis is especially popular and known for long lines of waiting customers. Ruth & I took a couple from Australia there and they loved this cold treat. We have visited the candy factory known as Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate in its central location under the title “Hiding in Plain Sight in St. Louis”. This city is the starting point for still available Switzer’s Licorice and other candy treats like Sweetarts. There were once candy factories in Springfield, St. Joseph, Columbia, and elsewhere in Missouri.
Jolly Ranchers were first made in Wheat Ridge, CO. There are now Enstrom stores in Grand Junction and Denver. The main Enstrom is in downtown Grand Junction at 701 Colorado Avenue, and its candy and other products are available at a 2nd location there and in nearby Fruita, CO. We visited the Enstrom’s at 201 University Blvd. in Denver’s North Cherry Creek. There is a 2nd location in Arvada, a Denver area community.
Enstrom’s still makes its signature candy, almond toffee, which is a very tasty treat. Almond toffee is still made by hand and is scrumptiously tasty. Enstrom’s also now makes toffee popcorn and gourmet chocolates. It also sells 50 kinds of ice cream.
I had the added treat of talking to Myrna, a long-time employee at Enstrom’s Cherry Creek outlet. She told me that she is “truly blessed” to have worked for this company for many years.