|Owner||Ferrara Candy Company|
|Tagline||Break Out the Brach's|
Brach's Confections is a candy and sweets company headquartered in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. In November 1980, Brach's Confections was sold to Bertram Johnson and then in 2012, it merged with the Ferrara Pan Candy Company to form the Ferrara Candy Company.
The company was founded in 1904 by Emil J. Brach, who invested his $1,000 life savings in a storefront candy store. He named it "Brach's Palace of Sweets" and it was located at the corner of North Avenue and Towne Street in Chicago, Illinois. With his sons Edwin and Frank, he started with one kettle. Investing in additional equipment he was able to lower his production costs and sell his candy for 20 cents per pound, well below the more typical 50 cents per pound his competitors were charging. By 1911, his production had reached 50,000 pounds per week.
By 1923, Brach had 4 factories operating at capacity. Brach then invested $5 million in a new factory, beginning construction in 1921. It was built at 4656 West Kinzie Street, and it consolidated production into one building. At the time, they were producing 127 different varieties of candy, and had a capacity of 2,225,000 pounds per year. Over the years, the Kinzie plant was expanded, and investments in new processes and equipment were made, including a chocolate grinding plant and a large panning operation. In 1948, an electrical spark ignited corn starch, causing a massive explosion on the plant's third floor that killed 11 employees and injured 18. Much of the factory's north side was destroyed. Reconstruction brought the plant's capacity up to more than 4 million pounds of product per year, and it employed 2,400 workers, in 2,200,000 square feet (200,000 m2). It was recognized as the largest candy manufacturing plant in the world at the time. At its peak, 4,500 employees worked there. The plant was abandoned in 2003 when new owners took over operations and production was moved primarily to Mexico. An administrative building was blown up for a special effects scene in The Dark Knight Batman movie in August, 2007; the rest of the complex is in ruins awaiting expected demolition.
Prior to World War II, Brach's produced several candy bars, including a chocolate-covered, honeycombed, peanut butter Swing Bar as well as a mint and almond nougat bar. After the war, Brach's concentrated on bulk and bagged candies, and Halloween Trick or treating became a popular activity. Brach's promoted its candy corn and other fall-themed candies, available in single-serve, pre-packaged packets.
In 1958, Brach's introduced the Pick-A-Mix concept. Customers could choose from a wide selection of items in bulk containers, scooping their choices, and paying one price per pound. This was adapted from the barrels seen in general stores at the time. Pick-A-Mix brought the dying traditional method of buying candy at the local corner or general store into the era of the modern supermarket.
In 1966, American Home Products Corporation purchased the company. In 1986, the last year of ownership by American Home Products, it accounted for two-thirds of the U.S. market for bagged candy and 7% of the $9 billion U.S. candy market. It employed 3,700 and had an estimated pretax profit of more than $75 million on sales of $640 million.
In 1980, Bertram Johnson purchased the company for $730 million, and by the end of 1989, it was in serious trouble. Losses that year were an estimated $50 million and sales had decreased to $470 million. By 1993, sales had dropped to $400 million though losses were reduced somewhat to $26 million. All this occurred during a period when overall per capita candy consumption in the U.S. had increased 25%. By May, 1994, Brach's moved its headquarters from the plant property to a penthouse office in one of Chicago's wealthiest suburbs, saw a loss of nearly 900 jobs (42% of the workforce at that time), and suffered a loss of key customers and market share.
Bertram Johnson almost immediately fired Brach's top officers and gutted the leadership of its sales, marketing, production and finance departments. Some of these positions were filled with executives from Suchard's European operations; people with little experience in the candy industry. Former executives cited Jacobs Suchard's autocratic management style and inability to recognize the difference between American and European candy consumption habits. The name of the company was changed to Jacobs Suchard Inc., a name few retailers or consumers recognized and product lines were trimmed from 1,700 to 400 in an attempt to cut costs. This alienated many of its largest customers, including Walgreens and Walmart, who found other sources, including Farley Candy. In addition to the cuts in product selection, Brach's also curtailed holiday promotional activities.
In 1990, Phillip Morris purchased Jacobs Suchard for $3.8 billion, except for its U.S. subsidiary. A holding company named Van Houten & Zoon Holding AG was formed by Klaus Jacobs to run Brach and other businesses. Disagreements with Klaus Jacobs on marketing and management strategies continued, particularly over commodity vs. branded (Brach's) products. In 1993 alone, Brach's saw 3 different CEO's, and continued to experience a high rate of turnover and dismissals within the sales and marketing departments. Many of Brach's sales personnel left to work for its competitors.
In September 1994, Bertram Johnson purchased the Brock Candy Company of Chattanooga for $140 million, a year in which Brock Candy had sales of $112 million and profits of $6.5 million. This was the second attempt by the two companies to join together. The first time had been while E.J. Brach's was under American Home Products ownership. The merger attempt at that time was abandoned due to concerns of an antitrust suit.
For a time the new company operated as the Brach and Brock Candy Company, later changed to Brach's Confections.
In 2003, Barry Callebaut AG purchased the new company. The principal owner of Brach's, KJ Jacobs AG, was also a majority stakeholder in Barry Callebaut. As part of the deal, Barry Callebaut agreed to assume $16 million in debt, fund restructuring efforts for 5 years and paid a symbolic $1 (one dollar) for the company.
The company's first product were caramels, which it produced through a process which allowed it to underprice competition, creating a large demand. This product is still a company mainstay to the present day along with a large variety of other products including a line of everyday products and special seasonal offerings.
Brach's Candy Corn is the number one selling candy corn product in the United States. It is mostly associated with Halloween, but can also be bought year round, though it is subject to seasonal availability. It is available in a wide variety of flavors such as Pumpkin Spice, S'mores and Caramel.
Brach's Conversation Hearts are small heart-shaped sugar candies sold around Valentine's Day. Each conversation heart is printed with a message such as "Be Mine," "Kiss Me", "Call Me" and "Miss You". They are now being made in a number of sizes and themes including Emoticon and Alphabet hearts.
Brach's chewy sweet confections are available seasonally in different flavors. The flavors vary from year to year but in recent years there have been Peppermint, Wintergreen, and Cinnamon for the Christmas season; Candy Corn flavored for Halloween; and Ice Cream flavors for Easter.
Brach's Original Jelly Bird Eggs are an Easter season mainstay. In addition to the Original mix, they are available in Spiced, Speckled, Orchard Fruit and Sour flavors. For the 2015 Easter season, they also released Tiny and Jumbo sized versions of the Classic flavor mix.
In addition to the variety of seasonal products, Brach's is known for their long tradition of chocolates. Malt Balls, Double Dipped Peanuts, Almond Supremes and the ever popular Bridge Mix are among the many offerings. For Easter, the Malt Balls are egg-shaped and covered in a speckled candy shell, in either all white, or pastel mix. They are called Fiesta Malted Milk Eggs.
Brach's is known for year round candies as well. Brach's Star Brite Mints being among the best known of all of them. Also produced are Caramel Royals, Lemon Drops, Spice Drops and Maple Nut Goodies and many more.