In addition to an exceptionally long tradition of providing high quality confections, the company prides itself on a unique history that is highlighted by five generations of family-ownership and management. In an era of mergers, buyouts and consolidation, the Palmer Candy Company operates today as not only one of the country's oldest candy companies but also the very oldest company of its size to be under continued family ownership in the United States!
It all began in 1878 when a fire destroyed the St. Joseph Michigan home of Edward Cook (E.C.) Palmer. Instead of rebuilding, the adventurous E.C. decided to pack up his family and move to the fast-growing frontier town of Sioux City, Iowa to purchase a wholesale grocery operation. In 1892, E.C.'s eldest son, William B. Palmer, decided to go into business and opened up a wholesale fruit company and realizing that it really is better to keep things in the family, William went into business with his father and brother Charles, forming Palmer and Company.
Prior to the turn of the century, the Palmers identified the need to diversify and delved into the candy business, selling bulk and hard candy in wooden containers from the back of their fruit house. The company quickly outgrew its quarters and in 1900 moved into a new four-story building. They were extremely proud of their high-rise, thoroughly modern facility that bragged such up-to-date technologies as ammonia cold storage and its own electric generator and steam boilers that supplied cooking steam to make Palmers quality confections. The candy factory made everything from fancy hand-dipped boxed chocolates to penny candy as well as a variety of gumdrops and marshmallows. Candies and the wholesale fruit were delivered to customers by a fleet of horse-drawn wagons.
The roaring 20s brought prosperity to our country and increasing sales to the Palmer fruit and candy business. 1923 marked the birth of Palmer Candy Company's Bing candy bar. At the time, candy bars were an innovative concept that was rapidly sweeping the nation. Nearly 40,000 new candy bars were launched as customers changed their buying behavior from purchasing their chocolate bulk at a candy counter or in a fancy box from the neighborhood drug store to buying candy bars at a grocery store and a variety of other more convenient outlets. The Bing candy bar is still produced today and remains a Midwest regional favorite!
Palmers purchased Sioux City's Soo Candy Company and its peanut-roasting department in 1941. This was the beginning of the Palmer peanut and nutmeat business that still exists today. In 1956, the company purchased the candy division of the Johnson Biscuit Company, claiming the rights to the popular La Fama candy brand. At the same time, the company began purchasing candy from other manufacturers and expanded into the repack and rack business - a division of the business continues to be an important part of the company today.
In 1969, the fruit company closed its doors, allowing the Palmer Company to focus its energy on the candy business. As the company's growth continued, so did the need to expand into an updated, larger facility. In 1979, the Palmer Candy Company moved to a large factory remodeled exclusively for the production of candy. The facility housed four floors of candy manufacturing, peanut roasting, candy rebagging, warehousing, shipping and offices.
Once again the prospect of continued growth required that the copany add another sizeable facility to its organization. With the addition of a new building in 2004 housing the packaging, warehousing, non-chocolate production and logistics, the company operations occupy more than 300,000 square feet of space. This is a far cry from the original little store front of Edward Cook Palmer’s day!
Offering its hometown community a bit of nostalgia, history and lots of delicious candy, the Palmer Candy Company also operates an Old Time Candy Shoppe in Sioux City, Iowa where it is packed with hundreds of favorite candy selections. The historic building contains a museum decorated with old pictures, antique advertising and packaging as well as other interesting company artifacts. And, just like it has been for five generations, the people working there are excited that you came in and are happy to be able to treat you to some of the best candy around!
Today over 130 years later, a fifth-generation family member, the great-great grandson of founder, E.C. Palmer, runs the Palmer Candy Company. Striving for confection, the company concentrates on its four business areas:
* Bulk sales of chocolate and other candies to Grocery and
* Contract Manufacturing and Private Label
* The Bing candy bar line
Even though the company has now grown to the level of producing and shipping massive candy orders to the very largest customers in the country, we haven’t forgotten our early roots making quality candies one batch at a time using the finest ingredients and careful time honored production techniques. We love making chocolate confections and enjoy living up to our 100 year old motto - “Making Life Sweeter Since 1878”!
- •Great Chicago Fire destroys Chicago's downtown
- • First Coca-Cola sold in Atlanta, Georgia
- • Fire destroys E.C. Palmer's original store in Michigan. E.C. moves to Sioux City, Iowa and purchase
wholesale grocery operation.
- •Geronimo surrenders
- •Palmer Company moves its candy and fruit business into a four-story factory building
- •Hershey builds a chocolate factory near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
- • First Lady Helen Herron Taft & wife of Japanese Ambassador plant cherry trees in Washington, D.C.
- • Bing candy bar, including the Cherry Bing, are introduced
- •Bing Crosby sings "Side by Side" - perhaps an early inspiration for the Twin Bing?
- •Palmer purchases Soo Candy Company and its peanut-roasting department
- • First "Peanuts" cartoon strip runs
- •Palmer purchases the Johnson Biscuit Candy division claiming the rights to the La Fama candy brand
- •Richie Valens releases "La Bamba" on the flip side of "Oh Donna" - Coincidence??
- •With the end of "Star Trek", American TV viewers concentrate on "The Brady Bunch"
- •With the end of their fruit business, the Palmer Company concentrates on its candy business
- • Laura Lee Hope publishes "The Bobbsey Twins and the Secret Candy Castle"
- • Palmer Candy Company releases the double bump "Twin Bing"
- • Sister Sledge enjoys success with the hit song "We Are Family"
- • Palmer family moves to a new 80,000 square feet factory and enjoys success with improved
production, warehousing, peanut roasting, rebagging and shipping systems
- • In its first year, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts Elvis Presley -The King
- • Palmer Candy company offers a triple bump Bing - The King Bing
- • Palmer Candy acquires 220,000 sq foot Distribution Center
- • Palmer Candy Company celebrates 125th anniversary
- • Palmer Candy moves the Palmer’s Olde Tyme Candy Shoppe into a historic building at 405 Wesley
Way in Sioux City. The interesting building was remodeled to offer hundreds of delicious Chocolate
and Confectionary specialties for sale and also includes a museum area displaying early equipment
and packaging from the company’s 130 year history!