Wilbur Chocolate

Wilbur History
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~ The History of Wilbur Chocolate ~

The present company originated with Mr. Henry Oscar Wilbur, in Philadelphia, PA. and the Kendig Chocolate Company, in Lititz, PA.

Henry Oscar WilburBack in 1865, Mr. H.O. Wilbur was successfully operating a hardware and stove business in Vineland, N.J. The chance of uniting with Samuel Croft in the confectionery business in Philadelphia, PA. seemed to offer a larger opportunity, and they became partners under the name of Croft & Wilbur, starting in the candy business at 125 North Third St., Philadelphia, PA. They produced largely molasses candies and hard candies, which were sold to the railroad company for train boys to sell. Confectionery manufacturing equipment at that time consisted of a kettle, with a coal or coke fire, some buckets, and a marble slab.

Their business flourished, making it necessary for them to seek larger quarters, at 1226 Market St., Philadelphia, PA. The business continued to grow, and it was necessary for the company to build a separate factory for the production of their chocolate requirements.

In 1884, it was decided to separate the business into the manufacture of cocoa and chocolate, as apart from the manufacture of candy. The company of H.O. Wilbur & Sons was formed for the manufacture of chocolate products, while Mr. Croft and a Mr. Allen continued the candy business under the name of Croft & Allen.

In 1887, larger quarters were again required, at which time H.O. Wilbur & Sons moved to their last location in Philadelphia, at Third, New and Bread streets. The business continued successfully, making it possible for Mr. H.O. Wilbur to retire at 59 years of age, which placed the full responsibility of operating the business on his two sons, William Nelson Wilbur and Harry L. Wilbur. The third son, Bertrand K. Wilbur, was a medical doctor who practiced in Alaska. He returned to Philadelphia at the death of his brother, Harry, in 1900 and assumed supervision of production in the chocolate plant.

During the early 1890's, Mr. W.N. Wilbur brought his two brothers from France, Steve and Mass Oriole, both experienced chocolate makers, who contributed much to the famous Wilbur Chocolate items.

In 1905, a third generation of Wilburs entered the picture in the person of Lawrence H. Wilbur. He was trained in Germany and tutored in the manufacture of chocolate by Steve Oriole. He later developed the machine to foil-wrap the famous Wilbur Buds®, which were first introduced in 1894. The firm was incorporated under the name of H.O. Wilbur & Sons in January, 1909.

The company continued to prosper and additional facilities were required. On April 17, 1913, the directors authorized the construction of an additional building, between the two original buildings, in Lititz, PA. This was a five-story building and all materials and labor were obtained locally.

In 1927, negotiations were started with Suchard Societe Anonyme, of Switzerland. On February 17, 1928, the company name changed to Wilbur-Suchard Chocolate Company, Inc. The negotiations included a merger with Brewster-Ideal Chocolate Co., of Lititz, PA and Newark, NJ.

The three factories continued to operate in Newark, Lititz and Philadelphia, producing a complete line of chocolate items, concentrating on items sold directly to the public (consumer goods); particularly, Suchard foiled squares, vending machine tablets and bars, in various attractive packages and labels. Beginning in August 1930, the Philadelphia manufacturing operations were moved to Lititz, which was completed in August 1933, and the Newark plant was sold back to Albert E. Brewster in 1934. The production and sale of Suchard items was continued until December 31, 1958, and the corporate name of the company was then changed to Wilbur Chocolate Co. The company became a wholly-owned subsidiary of MacAndrews & Forbes Company on October 18, 1968. Beginning in 1980, the company was sold four more times in 12 years, most recently in 1992 to Cargill, Incorporated. Cargill is one of the largest private companies in the United States with offices and facilities worldwide. Their main business is trading grains and processing agricultural commodities.

2002 proved to be a big year for Wilbur Chocolate Co. as two new companies joined the Wilbur family. In June of 2002 Wilbur Chocolate Co. purchased Omnisweet, located in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. The company is a division of Cargill Limited and Omnisweet was renamed Wilbur Limited. Wilbur Limited manufactures specialty compound products such as chunks, coatings, low melt ice cream flakes and ice cream coatings for the North American Market. In October of 2002 Wilbur Chocolate Co. purchased Peter's Chocolate from Nestle USA of Glendale, California. Peter's is a leading supplier of premium chocolates with a loyal customer base throughout North America.

Wilbur was and still is noted for its fine quality Chocolate Coatings. The manufacturing plants currently produces over 240 million pounds of chocolate products, and other various food ingredients each year. The products are manufactured and shipped to confectioners, dairies, bakers, and candy makers across the nation. In addition, a variety of our premium consumer items may still be purchased through our Candy Americana® Outlet Store and our mail-order department.

Sustainable and responsible cocoa sourcing

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