The original confection that would become a national favorite was initially introduced as Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp. The new product was developed by Benjamin S. Rodden, a confectioner who in 1885 had followed his brother George to Chicago to start their own candy company. George operated the firm while Benjamin experimented with new recipes and ingredients, trying to come up with a product that would be an American version of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk bar, which at the time was only sold in England.
Rodden came up with two batches of chocolate candy bars one milk chocolate and one dark chocolate that were marketed under the name “Rowntree. Chocolate Crisp”. The bars were not an immediate success and although the company had begun advertising in newspapers across the country, most people out east did not even know of its existence. Rodden remained convinced that he had a winner, but George Rodden believed that sales would never build and he wanted to sell the company.
Rodden’s brother-in-law, Henry John Heinz, who was married to George’s sister Lillian Rodden Heinz, was in Philadelphia for a visit when he tasted one of the bars. He immediately bought all rights to sell them within a 100 mile radius of Philadelphia. He soon began selling them locally under the name “Heinz Chocolate. Creme”. Within a year, the bars became an accepted part of local life in Philadelphia.
Heinz made sure that his wife’s younger brother Benjamin Rodden was rewarded for his discovery. He sent Rodden along with two employees to open a new factory and develop the chocolate bars marketed under the name “Heinz, Brother’s, Milk Chocolate. Creame”. That plant would eventually grow into one of the largest candy companies in America. The company was later purchased by Nabisco, which is now part of Kraft Foods Inc.
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Personal background: In the early days, I’ve always been interested in how companies emerge, turn into a big success and even become ‘firsts’. Since I’m curious if there’s any lagging behind of the current ones, I also’m curious how old some entries are. And I find this site on the internet, which tells me about the history of ‘chocolate bars’.
It shows me that with the increase in knowledge and techniques, there’s also a rise in information about histories. This database doesn’t seem to be very recent, it’s 4 years old. And it doesn’t look like there have been any additions since 2017, although it is still a respectable source.
Jooste added this to his profile note (https://www.facebook.com/JoosteLvanDeWetering) about the article: ‘Benjamin Rodden (1842-1927). In 1885, Benjamin Rodden worked for his brother George in Chicago and he had the idea of developing a chocolate bar that would be an American version of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk bar, which at the time was only sold in England.