Tantalizing Trivia about Treats in Minnesota
Everyone agrees that the best part of Halloween — at least for younger folks — is the tradition of trick-or-treating. When else can you walk up to any old house in your neighborhood, knock on the door, and be given a handful or two of free candy, no questions asked?
So as Halloween draws closer, our sweet tooth gets stronger and stronger! To satisfy your sugary cravings in the meantime, we have some super sweet facts about the history of candy in Minnesota.
The Mars Candy Company
Did you know that the founder of the Mars Candy Company, Franklin Clarence Mars, was born in Glenwood, Minnesota? When Franklin came down with a mild case of polio as a young boy, his mother taught him how to hand-dip chocolate candy as a way to pass the time. This instilled his life-long love of all things candy! Eventually, he and his wife Ethel moved to Minneapolis in 1920, and founded Mar-O-Bar Co., which would later become Mars, Inc. Today, Mars, Inc. is the largest candy company in the United States. They produce all of your favorite candy bars, including Snickers, Milky Way, Twix, 3 Musketeers, and Dove.
The Milky Way bar has a particularly interesting history. The bar was actually invented by Franklin’s son, Forrest, while the family was living in Minnesota — meaning it is the best-selling candy bar ever invented in our state! Originally, Milky Way bars were available with both chocolate or vanilla nougat flavors. The name “Milky Way” refers to the inspiration for these flavors – milkshakes! In 1936, the vanilla Milky Way bar was renamed the “Forever Yours” bar, which was sold until 1979. (If you’re curious about what these bars taste like, try a Milky Way Midnight. It is based on the original vanilla Milky Way variety.)
Pearson’s Candy Company
Although Mars, Inc. outgrew its facilities in Minnesota and moved to Virginia, another candy company has always called the Twin Cities home. Founded in 1909, Pearson’s Candy Company produces such classic favorites as Nut Goodies, Salted Nut Rolls, and the good ol’ Bit-O-Honey. At first, the Nut Goodie was Pearson’s big seller. The unique combination of flavors, including chocolate, peanuts, and the signature maple nougat, made the candy hugely popular throughout the 1910’s and 1920’s.
When the Great Depression struck in the 30’s, the Pearson family introduced the Salted Nut Roll. The delicious, distinct combination of smooth, creamy nougat and perfectly salted peanuts — sold at a price that anyone could afford — was just the thing to help ease the woes of a country down on its luck.
The tradition of delicious candies that have their origins in Minnesota continues today. Confectionaries like Aunt Belle’s in Walker, Chocolates Plus in Bemidji, and Cuzzin’s Candy Store in Park Rapids continue to hand-make delicious sweets for your enjoyment. So, whether you decide to enjoy a tried and true Snickers bar, a classic Nut Goodie, or a gourmet handmade chocolate, be sure to thank the fine folks who carry on the proud tradition of treats in Minnesota!