I learned recently that a famous candy factory used to be just down the road from where I live in Brooklyn.
This is the old factory of Mason, Au and Magenheimer, known for the Cocoanut Peaks candy bar and Mason Mints, neither of which we’ve seen in decades, and also Dots and Black Crows, now made under the Tootsie Roll brand. (Click here to read more about Black Crows.)
I went down yesterday to take this photo. The building is currently covered in scaffolding, as you can see. It’s been this way for a couple of years. Developers bought the brick factory with the intention of converting it into luxury condos. And then the bottom fell out of the luxury condo market (remember 2008?), so the work stopped and the building just sits. The building is being marketed as 20 Henry Street (they are playing up the historical significance in their marketing materials, with old-time photos on the web site). Back when Mason, Au and Magenheimer were making their candies there, it was known as 22-28 Henry Street. I wonder if you can still smell the chocolate?
The hyphenated address suggests that the site previously was a series of buildings that was torn down to make room for the factory (to confirm this I’d have to go check in the Brooklyn Historical Society records). But Mason, Au and Magenheimer listed a different address in their 1911 application to trademark the name “Black Crows”: 22-28 Middagh Street, which is around the corner and down a couple of blocks. These buildings are still standing (although I could only find 24, 26, and 28):
Mason’s Peaks were the most popular of their offerings in the 1920s. It was the decade of the candy bar. Peaks was an early, rough version. It looks a little like a shaggy potato dipped in chocolate. The filling is coconut, one of the most popular of the day. (See my post on Candy Bar Fillers for more.)
Mason described them more poetically, “like snow-clad mountains in their purity.” The boxes and store placards featured a snow-capped mountain in the background with a waving cocoanut tree in the foreground, an intriguing if somewhat perplexing geographical reference.
Candy bars were pretty versatile back in the day. Mason suggested these Ice Cream Fountain specialties, all variations of cutting up a candy bar and putting it with a scoop of ice cream.
One candy and ice cream shop in Shinglehouse, Pennsylvania even figured out how to melt down the Peaks bar to create a new ice cream topping for a “Peaks Sundae.” Mr. H.P. Toner wrote to Mason to tell them how excited he was about the Peaks candy:
I never had a bar that sold like PEAKS. I am making my store a PEAKS store, displaying the empties all over.
Peaks ads from Confectioners Journal, 1919.
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