I heard that there used to be a huge candy company based here in Chattanooga, and as a self-proclaimed sugar fiend, I must know more. What happened to this company, and is there any chance I could still give its products a try?
Sweet Tooth Sleuth
Brock Candy Company Factory, William Emerson Brock
Dear Sweet Tooth Sleuth,
You heard correctly! During the 20th century, Chattanooga was home to Brock Candy Company, a thriving family-run business that left a lasting legacy. It all began in 1906 when William Emerson Brock purchased the Trigg Candy Company of Chattanooga. Three years later, he bought the company from his associates and renamed it Brock Candy Company.
Brock Candy Company products for sale
The company got its start producing penny candies, including Southern favorites like peanut brittle and fudge. By the 1930s, Brock Candy Co. had added marshmallow and jelly products to its repertoire, and it debuted what would quickly become its most popular candy and a go-to Christmas gift: chocolate-covered cherries. The arrival of World War II and sugar rations didn’t hinder Brock Candy Co.’s steady growth, but it did necessitate an inventive approach to candy making. Brock cleverly utilized an abundance of corn syrup and peanuts to create the 5-cent Brock Bar, a solution to rationing that evolved into one of the company’s great achievements.
Workers sort chocolate-covered cherries, Worker holds tray of orange slice molds
With decades of success in the books, Brock stepped down as president in 1945. In less than half a century, he had grown his company into the largest candy manufacturer in the South, with distribution in 48 states. Brock died five years later, but his legacy lived on as the business continued to prosper. In 1952, Brock Candy Co. was making an impressive 20,000 pounds – or 10 tons – of candy a day from its five-story factory in downtown. That’s a lot of candy!
Brock’s grandson, Pat Brock, took charge of the company in the mid-50s and ushered it into a new era of growth, along with his four sons. Under their leadership, Brock Candy Co. acquired multiple out-of-state companies and expanded its infrastructure. In 1976, Brock Candy Co. moved its headquarters and manufacturing operations out of downtown and to a 30-acre site in East Brainerd. The introduction of gummy candies, such as the popular gummy bears and gummy worms, and fruit snacks in the ‘80s was a hit with consumers and led Brock Candy Co. to become an industrial supplier with additional plants in Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
After nearly a century as a family operation and over $100 million in sales, Brock Candy Co. was acquired by E.J. Brach Corporation in 1994 and became Brach & Brock Confections Inc. This transition was the first in a series of acquisitions that led to a Ferrara-owned Brach’s product line and the production of jellied candies and fruit snacks at its Chattanooga location. In 2014, Ferrara closed the historic factory, a bittersweet decision for lifelong workers with the company, members of the Brock family, and everyone who had enjoyed the candy company’s presence in Chattanooga.
While you may not be able to try those iconic chocolate-covered cherries, Ferrara still distributes a wide variety of candies under its Brach’s product line. Swing by your local superstore to grab a bag of orange slices or gummy bears and savor the sweetness of both the candy and its history!
Hope this helps!
Resident History Hound