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Candy, Cavities and Chocolate

EPISODE 3 SHOW NOTES: Historians, when you think of Halloween what comes to your mind? Candy? Cavities? Your kids hyped on so much sugar there’s no way they are making their bedtime?


According to the Atlantic.com “Americans will spend an estimated $2 billion on candy during the Halloween season this year, and here's a fun fact from the California Milk Processors Board: "an average Jack-O-Lantern bucket carries about 250 pieces of candy amounting about 9,000 calories and about three pounds of sugar."


Which is about 4.5 days of calories for an active adult.

Halloween started off as The Festival of Samhain, which celebrated the harvest and the Celtic New Year which started on November 1st. So how did we go from celebrating the Celtic New Year to candy and cavities? Well, it started right here in America, shocker right?


What we know today as Trick or treating originally started in England and Ireland from a tradition called “going a souling” which meant that children in the early 20th century would celebrate The Festival of Samhain by knocking on their neighbors doors and offering to pray for the souls of their deceased relatives in exchange for gifts. Except they wouldn’t be handed candy, because in this time period candies and chocolate were delicacies, so the children would be given food, ale, coins and other small items for their prayers. This tradition made its way to America from the European immigrants who came over in the early 1900s.

Trick or treating really started to become popular in the 1940s as towns wanted neighbors to get to know one another and after ww2 . At first it was very common that children would receive homemade cakes, cookies, fruit, muffins, etc. By the 1960s parents started to become concerned that their neighbors' treats could be harmful to their children. By the 70s you also saw more dual income families than times before, so who really had time to stay home and bake tons of Halloween treats? We also started to see the rise in obesity, but we will get to that in another episode.

Candy makers saw this as a great opportunity to really capture the market with their products.

Before we go on, let’s define candy for those that are wondering...

Candy, also called sweets (British English) or lollies (Australian English, New Zealand English),[a] is a confection that features sugar as a principal ingredient. The category, called sugar confectionery, encompasses any sweet confection, including chocolate, chewing gum, and sugar candy. Vegetables, fruit, or nuts which have been glazed and coated with sugar are said to be candied.

They started advertising campaigns to promote safe prepackaged candy, but it wasn't only the candy companies.

Now candies weren’t always safe. In the late 1800s As the path from producer to market became increasingly complicated, many foods were affected by adulteration and the addition of additives which ranged from relatively harmless ingredients, such as cheap cornstarch and corn syrup, to poisonous ones. Some manufacturers produced bright colors in candy by the addition of hazardous substances for which there was no legal regulation: green (chromium oxide and copper acetate), red (lead oxide and mercury sulfide), yellow (lead chromate) and white (chalk, arsenic trioxide).

Alright, so let's get back to the advertising...

It was also gum, Kool-aid and even cereal companies such as Post and Kellogg's that we're trying to advertise their products to little ghosts and goblins.

The candy industry also led to a lot of innovation. The Necco Company, who produces necco wafers and those little candy hearts for Valentine’s, was one of the first food production companies of any kind to completely automate the packaging process without human touch. Just a random thought for y’all...

So who were the big candy manufacturers that were pushing their products to our grandparents and great grandparents?

Let’s start off with Milton Hershey. The American chocolatier, businessman and philanthropist who literally built an entire town; Hershey, Pennsylvania for his employees and chocolate company. Who also started a boarding school originally for male orphans, but today accommodates 2,000 students with over $12 billion in assets, making the Milton Hershey School one of the wealthiest schools in the world.

Milton Hershey was born September 13, 1857 in Derry Township, Pennsylvania and his family was a part of a mennonite community. The early years of Henry and Fanny, Milton's parents, marriage were filled with frequent moves as Henry followed one failed dream after another. Each move carried them further into poverty and rough circumstances. Henry would often leave his wife and child for long periods, which meant Miton was expected to work on the family farm and only had a 4th grade education. In 1871 Hershey began an apprenticeship at a local printer, but found the work incredibly boring and was fired not long after. His Aunt and Mother wanted him to learn how to make candy, so she arranged for Milton, who was 14 years old to be an apprentice to a confectioner named Joseph Royer in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He spent the next 4 years learning how to create confections and in 1876 moved to Philly to start a confectionery business. Over the years he traveled from city to city mastering his craft. In 1883 he returned to Lancaster and started the Lancaster Caramel Company. This company became so successful he was able to sell it for $1 million and used that money to start the Hershey Chocolate Company. Surrounded by dairy farms, freshwater and his family Hershey bagan to obtain the supplies he needed to produce milk chocolate which at the time was a luxury. He had big dreams to supply chocolate to the average American consumer. In 1900 he produced his first milk chocolate bar and in 1905 his chocolate manufacturing company, which was the largest in the world, was completed. In 1907, the famous Hershey Kiss was introduced and his Mother in her later years could be found in the chocolate plant hand wrapping the little chocolate kisses. Milton built an entire town, Hershey, PA around his manufacturing plant that includes homes, a bank, a library, Hershey Park, etc.

Fun fact: Milton Hershey and his wife Kitty had tickets to be on the Titanic but had to cancel last minute due to work.

Today Hershey is worth about $30.29 billion dollars

So what about the other major chocolate manufacturer, Mars. While Hershey built his company to be a better way of life for his employees, Mars was all about the profit. Frank Mars was born in 1883 and was taught how to make candy by his mother. He contracted polio at a young age and was unable to walk without a cane for the rest of his life. He tried selling candies but kept failing and eventually was able to make a profit in Minnesota with his second wife, Ethel. His son, Forrest, who was from his first wife, also named Ethel, was obsessed with making money since he grew up in such poverty. Forest was the true driving force behind making the company so successful. Mars originally approached William Murie, who was at the time the President of the Hershey Company, looking for a steady supply of chocolate for Milky Way, his new candy bar. At the time Mars was such a small company Hershey didn’t mind and Mars became Hershey’s biggest customer. Today the companies still compete to be at the top of the chocolate market. In order to compete with the Milky Way, Hershey came up with the Mr. Goodbar and then Mars introduced the Snickers bar and the 3 Musketeers.

Forrest Mars rarely saw his father after his parents divorce when he was a child. After graduating high school he attended Berkley and then transferred to Yale and completed a degree in Industrial Engineering. He reunited with his father as an adult, but the two disagreed when Forrest wanted to expand to Europe and Frank did not. After Frank bought out Forrest, in 1933 he moved to England where he created the Mars Bar. During his time in England Forrest worked briefly for Nestle and the Tobler Company, which is best known for its Tobblerone Bar. In 1934 Forrest bought a British company called Chappel Brothers that specialized in canned meat for dogs. Once he returned back to the States he started another food business called Food Products Manufacturing. With this new company he established Uncle Ben’s Rice line and Pedigree, yes the pet food product.

In 1941 Mars started production on M&M’s, which stands for Mars and Murrie. Bruce Murrie, who was the son of William Murrie, the President of Hershey, had a 20% stake in the M&M Limited Company. Mars got the idea from soldiers from the Spanish Civil War who were eating a British candy called Smarties, that had a hardened sugar outer coating that could survive high heat and prevent them from melting. Mars got a patent for his own non melting candy and came up with the slogan, “melt in your mouth, not your hand.” During WW2, he sold them strictly to the military and then started to market them to the everyday consumer after the war. Fun Fact: According to www.dailymeal.com in an article where they made a list of each state's favorite candy, in our home state of Texas M&M ranked as the favorite.

During WW2 Hershey and Mars were both producing items for soldiers. While Mars approached the military regarding a contract, the military sought out Hershey in 1937 requesting a “little better than a boiled potato” chocolate energy bar. Um, gross.

Today Mars is worth about $90 billion dollars

So where does the popular Reese's peanut butter cup come in? Well in 1923 Harry Burnett Reese aka H.B. Reese the founder of Reese’s started the H.B. Reese Candy company from his basement in… wait for it… Hershey, Pennsylvania. Yup, you heard that correctly, Reese had originally worked at a Hershey dairy farm and from the start he used Hershey chocolate in his confections. H.B. died in 1956 leaving the company to his 6 sons. In 1963 the brothers merged the company with Hershey. In 1969 just 6 years after the companies merger, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups became Hershey’s top seller and in 2012 the Peanut Butter Cup was the best selling candy in the US with sales over $2.6 billion.

So Hershey and Mars are the major American chocolatiers, but let’s take a quick look into some of the significant European Chocolate companies. Nestle Global who is one of the largest food companies in the world. Nestle was formed in 1905 by the merger of the Anglo-Swiss Milk Company. Brothers Charles (US Consul to Switzerland) and George Page created the condensed milk company in 1886. Henri Nestle was a pharmacist that developed a baby formula made of cow's milk, flour and sugar called Farine Lactee in 1887. The two companies developed a competing product line. Daniel Peter began developing milk chocolate in 1888, but needed a way to reduce the amount of water in the milk so the product would not mildew. Nestle was producing condensed milk by then and merged with Daniel Peter in 1879. In 1905 Nestle merged with the Anglo-Swiss Milk Company and sold Swiss Chocolate. Today Nestle is the largest food company in the world operating Food, Water, Pet Foods, Cosmetics and Pharmaceuticals divisions. Twenty-nine of Nestle’s brands have annual sales of over 1.1 billion including Nespresso, Nescafe, Kit Kat, Smarties, Nesquik and Stoufer’s. Nestle operates 447 factories in 189 countries and employs 339,000 people. Nestle is also the largest shareholder in the world’s largest cosmetics company L’Oreal.

Today Nestle is worth about $304.1 billion dollars

In Alba, Italy a chocolate factory that is armed with guards, 10 foot concrete walls and large gates is the Ferrero plant. Ferrero is the maker of Tic Tac, Mon Cheri, Kinder and Nutella. According to an article on www.forbes.comUnderneath, high-speed cameras scan for imperfections: A tiny flaw in the coating is enough to trigger a puff of air that shoots the offending chocolate off the line. ‘We do everything with seriousness and extreme competence,’ says Giovanni Ferrero, the firm's 53-year-old chairman, in his first-ever sit-down with the American press.” Ferrero namesake owners are worth an estimated $31 billion altogether, $21 billion of which belongs to Giovanni, who's the 47th-richest person in the world. The company was founded in 1946 in Italy by Giovanni's grandfather Pietro. Also according to www.forbes.com “in 2015 he bought the venerable British chocolatier Thorntons for $170 million. It was Ferrero's first branded acquisition ever. His biggest purchase came in March, when he acquired Nestlé's U.S. candy business for $2.8 billion in cash. American icons like Butterfinger and BabyRuth are now Giovanni's domain.”

According to www.candyindustry.com the 2020 Global Top 100 Candy Companies based on sales of confectionaries is Mars is first with $18 billon net sales, Hershey comes in 5th with $7,986 billion net sales and Nestle is 6th with $7,925 billion net sales.

Now let’s go back a few years and talk about where candy originally started.

The word candy derives from the Arabic word qandi, meaning ''made of sugar''.

If we look back on history, it seems that candy originated in Ancient India between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. Honey was used by the Ancient Egyptians, Chinese and Arabs to candied fruits and nuts in order to produce an early form of candy. The Aztecs and Mayans were the first to drink chocolate by using cocoa beans and in the early 1500s Spanish explorers brought the cacao tree from Central America to Europe.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution in 1760, candy was often considered a form of medicine, to calm the digestive system or to help soothe a sore throat. Candy would only appear on the tables of the most wealthy. Digestive problems were very common during this time due to the constant consumption of food that was neither fresh or well balanced.

Bacteria are usually not able to grow on candy due to its high sugar concentration. Because of this candy is able to have a longer shelf life than many other foods. Most candy can be stored for months or even years. Prior to the 20th century candy was typically sold on carts in the street not wrapped and exposed to all the elements including bugs and dirt. Because we like to give you all the stats and cool facts, we will leave you with some random candy knowledge according to www.mentalfloss.com

*Mars introduced the Snickers bar in 1930 and was named after a beloved racehorse that had recently passed away at the family farm, the Milky Way, in Tennessee. Yes the family farm was named after their candy bar

*Everyday 64 million tootsie rolls are made which means over 44,440 tootsie rolls are created per minute

*3 musketeers was originally named that because it featured chocolate, strawberry and vanilla pieces of candy but vanilla, strawberry and sugar were scarce during ww2, they decided to just focus on chocolate

*The Mars factory in New Jersey produces about 4 million M&Ms a minute. Which is 5billion 760million M&Ms per day which comes out to 2.1 to the 12th power a year

One of the only things we can think of that is produced in a higher natural volume is chicken eggs.


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