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LOFT CANDY

BRAND NAME COOKING WITH LOFT CANDY

The official company website: 

HISTORY

The following is an excerpt from the book Ideas that Became Big Business by Clinton Woods. Published by Founders, Inc. Baltimore, MD, 1959, 414 pages.

Buy this book: Ideas That Became Big Business

The Loft Candy Story

A man and his wife started making home-made candies in their kitchen. Customers increased until today the business has expanded into one of the foremost in the confectionery field.

"Back in 1860, a man already past his first youth, opened a candy store in lower New York City. William Loft had been born and brought up in London and came to this country in the early '50's. For a time he and his wife had made candy in the kitchen of their home but as their sales increased they decided to open a retail shop. The one on Canal Street was the beginning of what has become one of the largest candy chains in the world.

The business prospered and, as they came of age, the sons of the founder became part of it. George W. Loft, the more enterprising of the two boys, represented his father in traveling abroad both as a salesman for the candies and a buyer of the finest raw materials, chocolates, nuts, etc.

During the panic of the '90's all this came to an end when the company encountered serious financial difficulties. George W. Loft took over the running of the business and by the turn of the century had "righted the ship" and "added to the fleet" by the opening of two other shops, making three in all. He was responsible for the tremendous growth of the company. His policy was one of making fine quality candy...and selling at the lowest possible price.

As the number of stores increased, the necessity for a larger plant became evident. In the late '90's it had been necessary to move the candy kitchen to a larger plant on Barclay Street and from there to an even more spacious one on Broome Street. (This building is now New York City's Police Academy.)

In 1919 the company made another move to its present location in Long Island City, at that time considered the suburbs. This plant is the largest of its kind in the world.

George W. Loft at this time was involved in many activities--banking, real estate, politics. He was a Congressman from New York City--and, as a hobby--in horse racing. He was the owner of several thoroughbreds of which "Papp" was the best known. He incorporated the company in 1916 and remained its operating head until 1929 when he retired. The chain then numbered 57 stores located in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Connecticut, Newark and Philadelphia and was noted, in addition to candy, for its restaurant and soda fountain operations with their fine coffee and delicious ice cream.

After his withdrawal from the company, it fell into a period of difficulties due to frequent changes of management and the litigation which arose from the contested ownership of the formula for Pepsi-Cola.

After this matter was settled, the corporation known as Loft Inc. was split in 1939 into the Pepsi-Cola Company and Loft Candy Corporation, both then publicly owned and completely separate companies. Having just passed through the severe depression of the Thirties the job of revamping this potentially fine business fell to the lot, as president, of Maurice L. Wurzel, a well known business man from Philadelphia, under the chairmanship of Albert M. Greenfield, an outstanding financier of the same city. Their ability to see the essentials of a problem enabled them to revitalize the company and by the end of their first year had succeeded in putting it in the black and on a dividend paying basis.

It was apparent to the management that the combination soda fountain and candy shop as epitomized by the Loft's store of the 1920's and '30's was becoming obsolete. People preferred to buy their candy in quite pleasant surroundings undisturbed by the clatter of dishes and odor of cooking. Thus, Loft's set about gradually converting 200 soda fountains and candy units into friendly, warm, pretty candy shops. Today, every one of the Loft's shops devotes itself to merchandising candy in the most ideal surroundings.

In December, 1948, shortly before the death of Mr. Wurzel, Loft's pioneered in opening the New York City subways to retail business. Many other companies followed its lead and in the subway stations or arcades one can now find, in addition to Loft's Candy Shops, bake shops, costume jewelry stores, book stores, florists and restaurants. At present there are 16 Loft's subway shops in important locations, two in Hudson and Manhattan stations and one in a Long Island Railroad Terminal.

Maurice L. Wurzel was succeeded by George R. Frederick who had been brought into the company in 1942 because of his merchandising experience over a period of years with other candy manufacturer-retailers. He directed a new packaging program which was necessary to give the boxes more eye appeal and, with Mr. Wurzel, worked with architects to produce an outstanding store design. He was the one who saw the advantages of the highway shop and during his term of office, Loft's opened two of these. One is in the center island of U.S. Highway 22 at Union, New Jersey, known as the Candy Garden, a beautiful modern shop set in the middle of an attractively landscaped area. The tired traveler could rest on the patio or in the garden before resuming his trip. The success of the Candy Garden inspired the opening of the Countryside Candies Shop on Highways 5 and 15 at Berlin, Connecticut. This shop has the appearance of a Colonial Salt Box home and since it has a miniature candy kitchen, it attracts thousands of travelers yearly.

In 1956, Loft's adopted a radical experiment in merchandising. It installed the first of the "automatic windows" in this country, a vending device incorporated into the store window itself. This has proved to be very successful in heavily trafficked areas since it attracts the customer who wants a small quantity of candy quickly.

Mr. Frederick retired from the presidency in 1957 and was succeeded by Leonard Wurzel, the son of Maurice L. Wurzel. Since then the company has opened 50 additional units bringing to 300 the number of owned or controlled retail outlets in 11 states of the East and Mid-West and the District of Columbia. Loft's is also represented in the candy departments of 21 carefully selected department stores in 15 states and the District of Columbia. Further expansion of outlets is planned.

Loft's makes more than 350 different candies, many of which are included in the various assortments of miniatures and home style packages as well as the special holiday items for which Loft's is famous. Its shops carry everything from a candy bar to the most deluxe of gift boxes and baskets. It is especially well known as the one and only maker of the Parlay bar, which received its interesting name from the racing terminology for a "triple winner".

Loft's sales volume for 1958 was $17,553,622; it has 2100 employees and over 5000 stockholders."

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." - Virginia Woolf

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