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Making History Monday: The Pearson Candy Company

The Pearson's Company celebrated their 100 year anniversary in May, 2009. I have several of their products I'd like to review this week so it seemed only natural to start off with the Pearson's Company history. I have to admit that I love Pearson's Salted Nut Rolls. They are produced in a neighboring state and I swear we get some of the freshest Pearson's products sold in our stores. I know a lot of people will eat a Snickers to help get them through the day, but a Salted Nut Roll is my protein packed candy bar of choice. I've been known to skip meals altogether and eat a Nut Roll instead. My in-laws eat them as "mini-meals" when making a long road trip...neverminding the occasional peanut that falls to the car's carpet. Bias aside, this is a great company that makes just a few products and makes them well.

The Pearson Candy Company was started by three brothers (2 more brothers joined the company after a few years) in the early 1900s as a candy distribution company. At some point they realized they could make more money making their own candy and their first product was the five-cent Nut Goodie Bar, which is still in production today. Their second product was the Salted Nut Roll that they introduced in the height of the Great Depression. The popularity of the Salted Nut Roll led to several copy cats bars (ie. the Payday bar), so the Pearson's changed the name to the Choo Choo bar. They later brought back the Salted Nut Roll name and put a more prominent logo on the label to differentiate their bar from the copy cats.

After WWII, the brothers dropped the distribution business to concentrate on making candy. Business has been very good for them over the years and has allowed for a few acquisitions. They first purchased the Trudeau Candy Company, also in St. Paul, Minnesota, which made the Mint Pattie and Seven Up bar. The Mint Pattie is still in production today but sadly the Seven Up Bar was dropped because of its complexity and cost. The Seven Up bar (link goes to wrapper image) has lived on in candy bar legend as one of those bars people absolutely loved growing up and dream about to this day.

In 1968, the Pearson family sold the company to the TT/Continental Baking who then sold it 10 years later in 1979 to The Confections Group. The Confections Group almost ruined the entire Pearson's company and should be known as the "Seven Up bar killers". The good news is that in 1985, two former employees purchased the Pearson's Candy Company and returned it to its roots of making quality candy. Pearson's last acquisition was in 1998 when the Bun Trademark was acquired from Clark Bar America. The Bun Cluster was a perfect match for the Nut Goodie bar and allowed expansion for Pearson's into other markets.

From Wikipedia: Salted Nut Rolls and Mint Patties account for approximately 80 percent of the company’s sales; Nut Goodie and Bun Bars account for the remainder. Mint Patties are sold nationally and Salted Nut Rolls are available in approximately 60 percent of the company's outlets. In the Twin Cities, Salted Nut Rolls consistently rank number one or number three in sales. Although the products are not sold internationally, the company is the 99th largest confectionery company in the world by revenue.

Pearson's utilizes 200 tons of peanuts, 400 tons of sugar, 100 tons of chocolate and 350 tons of corn syrup per month. Products are produced in the company’s 130,000 sq. ft. plant on three production lines.

Fantastic Link to Pearson's Company History, including old wrappers, timeline and movies.

Pearson's Salted Nut Roll 15-cent candy bar wrapper - 1970's
Originally uploaded by one of my favorite Flickr photographers: jasonliebig

Comments

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Candy Professor

You're so lucky to have Pearson's in your neighborhood! I never saw a Nut Goodie until last summer when I was in a Wisconsin gas station. Whew! What a candy! We passed the factory on the way to the St. Paul Airport, and I was so curious about what might be going on inside. Did you ever take a tour?

Sugarpressure

The Pearson's Candy Company does not offer tours of their facilities. :( I *wish* we could go, the smell of sugar, candy and taste testing oh my!

Regional candy bars still exist, we also have the Palmer Candy Company nearby that makes the Twin Bing. A Cherry/Chocolate/Peanut candy that's pretty good. Thanks for commenting!

Richard @ The Bewildered Brit

Great history! It's a crying shame the Seven Up bar died. I guess the nearest thing you can get today is Necco's Sky Bar.

Ah well, I'd love to have tried a Seven Up!

Candy Professor

We definitely need a candy time machine.

Sugarpressure

I agree, a candy time machine would be incredible! When I look through the history, there are so many things we'll miss out on and never get to try.

Richard: have you tried the sky bar? I should review one at some point.

Nelson

Will Pearson ever make the original Clark Candy Bar again?? It was the best!!

Sugarpressure

Do you mean the Bun? http://www.pearsonscandy.com/bun.aspx I cannot find another reference to Clark Bar other than the Bun, which is still sold today. Thanks for your comment!

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