Posts tagged ‘factory’

A Sucker? or a SCOUT Sucker?

When I say lollipop, what comes to mind? Dum Dum? Tootsie Pop?

Well, if it were 1920, you’d probably think first of the Scout Sucker.

Back in the early 1900s, there were suckers, sure. And every candy shop, no matter what other sorts of candy they sold, was sure to sell lots of suckers. But there was nothing distinctive about them. They were all more or less alike, no package or wrapper or brand to distinguish one from another. And a kid would just say “give me a sucker” and get whatever kind the shop happened to sell.

Scout Sucker was the first one to come in a special box with a special wrapper, and an ambitious advertising campaign to back it up. So instead of asking for suckers, kids started asking for Scout Suckers.

The man behind Scout Suckers was named H.W. Faulkner. In 1912, he was a scrappy 15  year old scrubbing out tubs in an ice cream parlor. But he had big dreams, and the way to riches was paved with candy. He got a bit of capital together, and by 1917 had his own little manufacture going in a basement. Faulkner knew from the start that it was all about branding and advertising. Of his first $900 investment, he put 20 percent into advertising. His business strategy was a success. Faulkner Candy grew and grew; by 1920 Faulkner had moved to a huge new factory in Mount Vernon, Illinois and was churning out millions of Scout Suckers. Faulkner was all of 23 years old.

The factory was a model of modern manufacturing efficiencies. As you can see in the picture, it was built next to the rail road line and boasted its own side track. This meant that supplies could be shipped directly by rail car; corn syrup arrived in tanks and was piped into the basement, saving on the costs of unloading barrels. The corn syrup and other ingredients would be pumped to the top floor, where manufacture began, the goods being drawn ever downward by gravity until they would arrive in their final boxes at the bottom floor, flying out the chute and into customers’ waiting mouths.

By the way, Americans didn’t used to call them “lollipops.” That’s an old word with a more general meaning, usually given as “sweetmeat.” The word was frequently used to denote something trifling and enjoyable; “Mrs. Lollipop” and “King Lollipop” were frequent characters in children’s stories of the nineteenth century, and “Lollipop” was also the name of an early 1900s literary magazine. In the early 1900s, Americans typically called candy on a stick an “all-day sucker” which soon was shortened to “sucker” simple.  Notwithstanding the adorable Shirley Temple warbling about the “Good Ship Lollipop” in 1934, here in the U.S. the word “lollipop” to mean exclusively candy on a stick does not seem to have been universally accepted until the 1940s. But then, “On the Good Ship Sucker” wouldn’t have been quite so catchy.

P. W. Hanna, “Men and Methods: H.W. Faulkner” System, the  Magazine for  Business, March 1922 286-87, 310. Scout Sucker and factory images from Faulkner advertising in Confectioners Journal, February 1920.

July 21, 2010 at 12:48 pm Leave a comment

Where is Cadbury?

cheese or chocolateKraft returns for round two in the Cadbury takeover bid, defending its offer of $16.7 billion by slamming Cadbury’s business prospects. According to Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld, Cadbury will have “limited opportunities” to create value on its own. Cadbury is the laggard in the class; he’s done his best, poor thing, but now its time to turn it all over to the professionals.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that Cadbury’s workers seem to be rooting for Kraft. The Cadbury factory in Keynsham, England, is slated to be closed and its jobs moved to Poland. Seems Cadbury does have some ideas for “creating value,” or at least increasing profitability (is that the same thing?) The workers believe that Kraft will somehow view the historic factory more sentimentally, and keep Cadbury chocolate in England where it belongs.

The factory in Keynsham dates to 1919; until now, Cadbury chocolate has been English chocolate, made in England. But globalization is making such “local” manufacture increasingly obsolete. U.S.-born CEO Todd Stitzer hatched the plan to close the factory back in 2007 as part of a larger market strategy. So an American is in charge of English chocolate manufacture to be moved to Poland. Where is Cadbury, anyway?

Chocolate for eating, like the chocolate bars at the heart of Cadbury, Hershey and the rest, can be formulated to many kinds of tastes. When candy was local, national chocolates were made to conform to national tastes and supplies. British preferred additional sweetness; American (Hershey’s) chocolate had a peculiar sour milky taste; the Swiss perfected a smooth balance of flavors. And Polish chocolate? Alas, the aftermath of the cold war seems to have produced a waxy, flavorless product.

Kraft promises “efficiencies,” and added value, from consolidating their existing candy lines with Cadbury. When a global powerhouse buys an English chocolate factory and moves its production to Poland to make candy that will be sold everywhere in the world, what will that taste like?

More: Wall Street Journal, “Factory Town Roots for Kraft in Candy Fight” Sept. 9, 2009

September 9, 2009 at 7:52 am Leave a comment


Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure

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Candy in American Culture What is it about candy? Here you'll find the forgotten, the strange, the curious, the surprising. Our candy story, one post at a time.

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