How Well Do You Know Wilbur Chocolate?
Test your knowledge with 14 FAQs that delve into our storied history, manufacturing processes, and of course, our chocolate.
When was Wilbur Chocolate founded?
Our company dates back to 1884.
The backstory goes: In 1865, Mr. Henry Oscar Wilbur, who had been running a stove and hardware business in New Jersey, went into the confectionery business with a gentleman named Samuel Croft. Together, they created hard molasses candies that were sold on passenger trains. These candies were incredibly successful and, decades later, led to the creation of two distinct companies: Croft & Allen, maker of non-chocolate candies, and H.O. Wilbur & Sons, specializing in chocolate products.
In 1958, four generations of Wilburs (and several business twists) later, the company officially took on the name Wilbur Chocolate Company.
Has Wilbur Chocolate always been based in Lititz, PA?
While Wilbur has been in Lititz for more than a century, the company got its start in Philadelphia. As H.O. Wilbur & Sons grew, the company built additional facilities in Lititz in 1913. The chocolatemaker continued to operate out of Lititz, Philadelphia, and Newark until 1930, when all manufacturing was moved to Lititz.
Was the Wilbur Bud created before the Hershey’s Kiss?
Actually, yes. Mr. H.O. Wilbur developed his drop-shaped candy in 1894; The Hershey Kiss didn’t come onto the scene until 13 years later. Wilbur created the Bud as a way to optimize production and sell more chocolate: depositing liquid chocolate into specially designed molds was an efficient manufacturing technique, and the memorable bite-sized drops caught on with candy lovers. Milton Hershey’s Kiss, introduced in 1907, was dropped directly onto a conveyor belt rather than into a mold.
Is Wilbur still its own business?
While Wilbur still maintains the look and feel of an independent business, the brand joined forces with Cargill, a global food corporation, in 1992. Wilbur became part of the company’s Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate division, which works directly with farmers in cocoa-producing countries to source superior cocoa beans in a sustainable way.
As partners, we make a sweet pair. The Wilbur brand has played an important role in Cargill’s North American chocolate production, and Cargill has continued our tradition of American-style chocolate-making using only the best ingredients while adding sustainable sourcing to the mix.
(Fun fact: Mr. H.O. Wilbur started his confectionery business in Philadelphia the same year William Wallace Cargill became the proprietor of a grain warehouse in Conover, Iowa. Little did the two men know that their legacies would intertwine more than 125 years later.)
What happened to the historic Wilbur Chocolate factory in Lititz, PA?
After acquiring Wilbur in 1992, Cargill kept the Broad Street factory in operation until 2016, when production was moved to other Cargill plants (in Lititz, Mount Joy, and Hazleton, PA, as well as Milwaukee, WI). After the factory closed, the historic building was transformed into a boutique hotel called The Wilbur Lititz, luxury apartments, a bistro, and a specialty market. The facade of the building remains intact, honoring the historic factory. The current location of the Wilbur Retail Store sits just across the street.
What are your sustainability practices?
For Wilbur and Cargill, sustainability centers on our sourcing practices—and the health of the cocoa communities we work with. We know that to create a stable cocoa supply, we need to provide a viable income for both current and future generations. And so Cargill’s ongoing work focuses on addressing poverty and improving livelihoods in every cocoa community we touch (stretching across Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Indonesia, Ghana, and Brazil).
Some of the work Cargill has done to address poverty among our cocoa farmers includes building over 55 schools in West Africa to educate future generations (https://www.cargill.com/story/educating-children-to-help-whole-cocoa-communities-thrive). They’ve also placed special emphasis on professionalizing cocoa farming—providing training to more than 240,000 farmers (https://www.cargill.com/doc/1432213708736/cargill-cocoa-sustainability-progress-report-2021.pdf) on everything from best practices in agriculture to a better grasp on the cocoa market. At a high level, Cargill supports more than 600 farmer organizations (https://www.cargill.com/doc/1432213708736/cargill-cocoa-sustainability-progress-report-2021.pdf), working closely with NGOs, governments, and industry partners to increase farm profitability, improve social services, empower female cocoa farmers, and address child labor. You can learn more here.
Where is Wilbur Chocolate made?
Wilbur’s Pennsylvania roots run deep, and the chocolate recipes used in our retail confectionery production are still manufactured in Central Pennsylvania. We’ve also benefited from Cargill’s production capacity, and some of our products are now manufactured in Milwaukee, WI, and Ontario, Canada.
Do you make any of your chocolates/confections on-site?
Proudly, yes! Our Lititz store is home to The Wilbur Kitchen, where a team of chocolatiers craft many of our mouthwatering treats from scratch. You can stop by and watch them dip, dunk, drizzle, and sprinkle all manner of chocolate treats—from peanut butter meltaways to almond bark and chocolate covered marshmallows.
What’s the difference between milk, semisweet, bittersweet, and white chocolate?
The FDA defines these chocolate categories, and it all comes down to the ratio of milk to cocoa content. Milk chocolate has the highest percentage of milk and the lowest percentage of cocoa; semisweet has less milk and more cocoa. And bittersweet chocolate (which we sell as Brandywine chunks) has no milk and an even higher cocoa content, thus the richest chocolate flavor.
White chocolate consists primarily of cocoa butter, milk, and vanilla (and doesn’t actually contain any cocoa, which imparts the flavor of chocolate).
What’s the difference between chocolate and confectionery?
Our chocolate products are made with cocoa butter and include a certain percentage of chocolate liquor in their ingredients. Confectionery or compound products have a vegetable oil base (and may or may not include cocoa butter and/or chocolate liquor). Chocolate products usually have a lower melting point than confectionery products, and the process for melting and working with each is different. (Learn more here.) The meltability and mixability of confectionery products makes them ideal for coating and novice candy-making.
How should I store my chocolate?
You’ll want to store your chocolate in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. (The ideal storing temp is between 63 and 68 degrees F, and products are more tolerant of temps below 65 degrees than above 70 degrees.) Ideally, mrelative humidity should be 50% or lower, as higher humidity causes products to absorb moisture and reduces their shelf life.
Be sure to store your products away from any material with strong odors, as this can actually alter the flavor. And it also helps to think about ventilation (storing your products at least four inches off the floor and at least four inches away from any walls) so air can circulate around the chocolate.
How long does Wilbur Chocolate last?
With proper storage, you can expect a shelf life of nine months to one year for pastel products, one year for milk chocolate and cocoa confectionery products, and one year to 18 months for dark chocolate.
What do you sell in addition to Wilbur Buds?
Buds are really just the beginning! We bring that same rich Wilbur flavor to a delicious array of chocolate-covered treats (think fruit, nuts, pretzels, and more) and chocolate formulated especially for baking and melting (chocolate chips, bars, chunks, and wafers). Then there are our handmade specialties like toffee crunch, nut bark, and peanut butter meltaways, as well as our own customer-approved line of sugar-free chocolates. We even have a custom coffee blend made using our cocoa powder.
If you’re a longtime Bud lover wanting to branch out, we’d recommend trying our triple coated almonds, Lititz sweet & salty bark, chocolate covered caramels, or peanut butter meltaways.
Where do you ship your chocolate?
We ship to all 50 states (different rates apply for Alaska and Hawaii). We also ship a limited number of products to Canada; you can call Customer Service at 888-294-5287 to get shipping information and place your order.