Sweet Success: Tacoma Historical Society exhibit spotlights candy manufacturing

The Tacoma Historical Society will unveil a new exhibit in December that explores the historic significance of candy manufacturing in Tacoma.

Mention candy manufacturing in Tacoma and the Brown & Haley Company comes to mind, along with the Hilltop institution of Johnson Candy. In the early 1900s, however, Tacoma was one of a select few ideal locations for candy manufacturing in the United States due to a mild climate, low elevation, and the ready availability of shipping options, according to Tacoma Historical Society officials. Although the importance of Tacoma’s mild climate declined with the development of refrigerated rail cars in the 1920s, Tacoma has remained a hub of candy manufacturing.

“Determining starting dates for these companies has been difficult,” said Tacoma Historical Society President Bill Baarsma. “Many gradually evolved from a soda fountain, ice cream shop, or small kitchen industry. We were surprised to learn how many candy companies chose to manufacture in Tacoma, producing high-quality products despite facing challenges.”

The exhibit, entitled Sweet Success, explores the historic significance of these companies, now thought to number more than 75.

An opening reception for Sweet Success will be held on Tues., Dec. 1, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., at the Tacoma Historical Society Museum, located at 919 Pacific Ave., in downtown Tacoma. The exhibit will run through March 26, 2016.

More information is available online at tacomahistory.org.


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