Known for nostalgic goodies like orange sticks and saltwater taffy, Sweet Candy Co. brings tasty traditions to memories and mouths.
It may surprise you that one of the oldest Utah businesses still in operation today is a candy company. But it’s true: Sweet Candy Co. started in 1892 and has been in business in the state since 1900.
Sweet Candy Co. is known for old-school classics like chocolate-covered orange sticks, saltwater taffy and cinnamon bears, and it still uses the same decades-old recipes for those treats.
A bite of a soft orange stick is to taste nostalgia itself.
“If I go and I buy orange sticks on a shelf, that is going to be something that is known, and is consistent, and is going to be the same thing that I’ve had my whole life,” said marketing director Anne Bischoff .
“For a lot of people, that is comforting,” she continued. “… I think the harder the times are, the more that we seek just those little pieces of joy and consistency.”
A sweet story
According to data from the Utah Department of Commerce, Sweet Candy Co. is the oldest for-profit corporation in Utah whose registration remains active.
Leon Sweet launched it in 1892 in Portland, Ore., In those early days, Sweet was selling jawbreakers and penny candy in apothecary jars out of horse-drawn carriages, said Rachel Sweet, vice president of corporate affairs and Leon’s great-great-granddaughter.
In 1900, Leon Sweet and brother Arthur came to Utah to be closer to a sugar supply, said Rachel Sweet, and in those early days, Sweet Candy Co. confections were made from Utah-produced beet sugar. The two brothers made hard and soft candies, according to the company’s history, as well as hand-dipped chocolates and marshmallow treats.
A few decades after saltwater taffy was invented in Atlantic City in the late 1800s, Leon Sweet introduced the treat to the Beehive State. In the 1930s, his son de l’Jack Sweet invented a process of whipping egg whites into the taffy, a technique still used today, the company’s history says. Whipping the taffy is said to result in a softer taffy, more delectable than pulled taffy.
After Sweet Candy Co. moved to Utah, it first set up shop at 15 E. 100 South in Salt Lake City, which is now at the edge of the City Creek Center shopping mall. In 1911, the company relocated to 224 S. 200 West, next door to the current Poplar Street Pub.
Today, Sweet Candy Co.’s manufacturing and distribution facility is located a few miles south of the Salt Lake City International Airport.
Sweet Candy Co. is the largest manufacturer of whipped saltwater taffy in the US, Rachel Sweet said, and the taffy comes in more than 50 flavors, including root beer float, eggnog, caramel apple, cinnamon and buttered popcorn.
In addition to milk chocolate orange sticks, which the company has been producing for 85 years, Sweet Candy Co. also makes milk chocolate raspberry sticks and dark chocolate cherry sticks, orange sticks, mango chili sticks and blueberry sticks, as well as cinnamon bears, Chocolate-covered cinnamon bears, and sours in assorted flavors.
Sweet Candy Co.’s products can be purchased online as well as in most grocery stores.
Anne Bischoff — Leon Sweet’s great-great-great-granddaughter — said Sweet Candy Co. is part of people’s traditions, whether they’re bringing orange sticks at Christmastime or catching Sweet brand taffy at parades in the summer.
Nostalgic candy, she said, offers a way of “bringing back people who have gone or just these little tiebacks to your own family history.”
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