Encyclopedia of Appalachia
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Brock Candy Company

The South's—and Appalachia's—largest candy maker, Brock Candy Company of Chattanooga, Tennessee, merged with the E. J. Brach Corporation of Chicago in 1994 to become the fourth-ranking candy manufacturer in the United States. But its growth was gradual, occurring over the course of nearly a century and illustrating changes in Appalachia itself. The firm was founded in 1909, three years after salesman William E. Brock Sr. decided after years of traveling to take up a more settled life in Chattanooga. Borrowing money, he invested with some associates in the Trigg Candy Company and in 1909 bought his partners out and renamed the company for himself. Sugar rationing during World War I hampered the business, but in 1920 the company introduced a five-cent peanut stick that became a big seller. Using the experience and connections he had made as a traveling salesman, Brock focused on manufacturing penny candies sold primarily through former clients in small country stores. He also worked with the DuPont Company to develop and test the packaging of candy in cellophane bags, which influenced the entire candy industry.

In the late 1940s and 1950s, the rise of supermarket chains began eliminating the rural stores on which much of the company's business depended. Brock shifted its product line from penny candies to more expensive types of candy products, and the change probably saved the company. Candies such as Chocolate Covered Cherries, Starlight Mints, Old-Fashioned Creme Drops, and Gummi Bears proved popular and profitable.

The family-owned business became publicly owned following an issuance of stock in 1993. The following year, the company was acquired by Chicago's Brach and returned to the status of a privately held company. Under the merger agreement, the new company was renamed Brach and Brock Confections, Inc., and was headquartered at the Brock facility in Chattanooga. The merger placed the new company just below M&M/Mars, Hershey, and Nestlé in the American candy industry. In 2003 the firm's 1,600 employees, its $340 million in annual sales, and its prominent position in the North American market were acquired by Zurich-based Barry Callebaut AG, which claimed status as the world's leading maker of high-quality cocoa and chocolate products. In 2004 Barry Callebaut reported 9,500 employees and some thirty production facilities in seventeen countries. See also: CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE (URBAN APPALACHIAN EXPERIENCE).

—Ned L. Irwin, East Tennessee State University

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