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Cargill and Wilbur: A Rich History of Chocolate

Cargill and Wilbur: A Rich History of Chocolate

In 1865, Henry Oscar Wilbur started a confectionery business in Philadelphia, PA that eventually became Wilbur Chocolate. In the same year, William Wallace (W.W.) Cargill became the proprietor of a grain warehouse in Conover, Iowa. Little did these two men know that they were each kicking off a legacy that would intertwine more than 125 years later.

By 1884, H.O. Wilbur had refocused his business solely on manufacturing chocolate products. The company eventually moved to Lititz, PA, where it has been a community centerpiece since 1934.

Then, in 1992, Cargill acquired Wilbur Chocolate Co, bringing their own Cargill family heritage to Wilbur’s chocolate legacy, and making the North American facility a hub for their growing global cocoa and chocolate business.

Who is Cargill, and What’s Their History with Chocolate?

To Lancaster County natives, Wilbur Chocolate is a household name, but the name Cargill may be less familiar. Despite being the proverbial “newcomer,” Cargill is no stranger to the food industry in general, or the cocoa and chocolate business in particular.

From that single grain warehouse back in 1865, Cargill has grown into a global corporation, employing 150,000 employees in 70 countries across various industries including agriculture, livestock, industrial products, food & beverage, and transportation. Still a family-held business, Cargill is the largest privately-held corporation in the U.S., with more than $100 billion in revenue annually.

Along with their breadth of operations, Cargill also brings 50 years of rich history with cocoa and chocolate. Their carefully crafted flavors of cocoa and chocolate are key ingredients for many of the biggest confectionary and food businesses across the globe.

Cargill has extensive resources and deep expertise to assist customers with co-creating new chocolate sensations and driving innovation in product development.

Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate Worldwide

Wilbur Chocolate is a valued brand in Cargill Cocoa & Chocolates portfolio that help solidify Cargill’s operations in North America, and Cargill has a vast and sustainable cocoa supply chain around the globe. Working directly with farmers in cocoa-producing countries throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America, Cargill research teams pursue a single goal: the best cocoa beans.

Starting with the highest quality beans, they’re able to ensure consistency and quality, so you get the same delectable chocolate products every time. Being consistent doesn’t mean that all their chocolate is the same, however. Cargill’s state-of-the-art facilities around the world each have their own specialties, delivering unique chocolate tastes tailored to the local region and consumers.

The Cargill Cocoa Promise

Cargill’s love for chocolate also extends to each of the farmers and producers that help make these sweet treats possible. The Cargill Cocoa promise seeks to improve the lives of cocoa farmers and their communities and ensure a thriving and sustainable cocoa industry for generations to come.

Cargill backs up their sustainability initiative by supporting over 477 farmer organizations across five cocoa-producing countries, building over 3,000 schools to educate future generations, and providing training to more than 140,000 farmers.

Together with the rest of their sizeable and sustainable supply chain, Cargill can take their chocolate products from bean to bar, ensuring the utmost quality throughout the entire process and supporting their overall corporate mission to feed the world responsibly. 

Cargill’s Sweet Portfolio

While we’re partial to Wilbur Buds ourselves, Cargill’s fellow chocolate brands all boast unique, premium products that delight consumers and confectioners worldwide.


In Greek mythology, ambrosia is the “Food of the Gods.” If only the Greeks were around in Milwaukee in 1894, they could have tasted Ambrosia’s superior chocolate chips, chunks, and coatings that have become the go-to-resource for fine bakeries, confectioneries, and restaurants in North America.

Gerkens® Cacao Powder

Choosing the right cocoa powder is one of the most critical decisions for bakers and chocolate-makers when creating recipes. That’s why Gerkens offers reliable, consistent, and high-quality powders for chocolatey foods worldwide. Named for their main cocoa plant in Holland, where they’ve been producing powder for over 50 years, Gerkens can provide custom-made powders tailored to taste and color requirements.


If you’ve ever created colorful chocolate confections, you’re probably familiar with Merckens and their signature Rainbow™ line of coatings. Founded in 1921, this Cargill brand is famous for their spectrum of colors that aren’t only fun, but also provide great functionality, consistency, and flavor.

Peter's® Chocolate

While a relatively new addition to the Cargill family (2002), Peter’s Chocolate’s distinctive Swiss-style chocolate dates back to the 1860’s. Cargill has continued the brand’s famous tradition of crumb-based milk chocolate, high-end Icecaps® coatings, and their unforgettable buttery caramel.

Cargill + Wilbur, the New Legacy

Cargill is helping continue Wilbur’s tradition of quality American-style chocolate, using the original recipes we’ve known and loved since 1884. They add to Wilbur Chocolate’s legacy their commitment to providing the best quality ingredients, sourced in a sustainable, responsible way.

Through Wilbur Chocolate, Cargill is genuinely able to deliver bean to bar, or in this case, bean to Bud. From lovingly nurtured farming communities to precision processing facilities to the delicious Wilbur Buds that our visitors taste every single day, we look forward to continuing our sweet legacy for years to come.