The Heath Brothers Confectionery:
on the West side of the square in Robinson opened its doors on January 7, 1914. The confectionery did very well selling fountain drinks, ice cream and homemade candies
In 1915, L.S. Heath joined his sons in the family venture and the confectionery shop was expanded by adding new items on a regular basis. During this period of time salesmen from all over the midwest made stops at the shop. One such salesman got to know the Heath Brothers and began to share recipes with them.
The most popular recipe he shared was for "Trail-Toffee" carried from an enterprise operated by some Greek candy-makers in Champaign, Illinois. The Heath brothers took this recipe and developed it further. After several months of trial and error, the brothers declared their formula for "English Toffee" to be "America's Finest." The year was 1928.
The candy grew in popularity and the confectionery flourished. Many travelers were coming and going in Crawford County at the time due to the oil boom. It became traditional to take Heath English Toffee with them when departing. When travelers returned to Crawford County, they came with instructions from family and friends to purchase the candy for them.
After a time the confectionery was sold and the Heath Brothers moved into the family dairy business. However they brought their candy making equipment with them which consisted of a copper kettle, a stirring paddle,a marble slab, and a rolling knife. In addition to selling from a retail counter in the business, they began selling the candy on the milk routes already established by the dairy.
In 1932, the brothers began inching their way into the national market. During the depression years their business flourished while others began failing. There was nothing else like it in the national marketplace. The bar's uniqueness and superb quality served to push the product up the ladder of success.
As the candy bar grew in popularity, the production facilities on South Jackson Street grew to keep up. This was still a hand-operation from beginning to end. It was ten years later that the plant was partially mechanized for the first time.
It was a sales achievement obtained during World War I that was credited for growth to an international market. Heath English Toffee "America's Finest," would now become popular world wide.
In 1946. L.S. his four sons two daughters and grandchildren formally incorporated L.S. Heath and Sons Inc. The company grew, and changed, acquiring other confectionery firms.
In 1967 a new production plant was built on West Main street where it remains today. The operations and equipment were extensively modernized in the late 1970s. The plant was now fully automated and a chocolate processing plant was added. The popularity of the candy continued to grow.
In 1989 the Heath family sold the company to Leaf, Inc., a division of Hutamaki Oy of Helsinki, Finland. American operations were headquartered in Lake Forest, Illinois.
In 1990, Leaf, Inc. strengthened its commitment to Crawford County through a major expansion of the Robinson facility. The Main Street production facility was expanded by 234,000 square feet and approximately 300 new employees were hired.
In addition to being the home of the Heath Toffee Bar, Robinson is now manufacturing Milk Duds, Whoppers, Payday and Zero bars.
In January of 1997, the Robinson plant became a subsidiary of the HERSHEY candy company. With the acquisition of the Robinson plant and its product line, Hershey is not only the number one candy producer in the United States, but now offers its customers an even more diverse product line.
Come back soon!
Copyright © 1998 Ray Everly