It is an integral part of every parade in downtown Elizabethtown - Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Christmas - it doesn't matter what the occasion is. Hard candy is thrown from the floats to the crowds lining the streets. It is just one of the benefits of having a hard candy factory in town.
Simon Candy Company started production in 1949 in the basement of an old church located in the first block of North Spruce Street in Elizabethtown. A year later, Charles and Margaret Simon built a small factory at the same location. At the beginning, the Simons produced chocolate novelties like Easter bunnies and Santas, but the seasonal nature of this type of production eventually led to the Simons to concentrate on a more year-round confection. The Simons purchased equipment to begin production of hard candies.
The first flavours were cherry, menthol and horehound1. That original equipment was able to wrap about 180 pieces of hard candy a minute. About a dozen people were working at the plant at the start of the 1970s. Then in 1974, a combination of factors caused the Simons to sell the company to JoEl Inc, a corporation in nearby Lebanon, Pennsylvania. At the time of the sale, the Simon's sales topped half a million dollars.
JoEl Inc was owned by John and Eleanor Hess and they helped grow the business into what the multimillion business it is today. In 1982, the company began production of throat lozenges and cough drops, building a new division named 'Pharmaloz'. The Pharmaloz factory in Lebanon opened in 1985. In 1988, the Mr and Mrs Hess retired and gave the company to their children.
Today's wrapping machines are capable of handling 1,200 per minute and Simon's 70 employees produce more than 2 million pieces of hard candy every day at the complex which includes a manufacturing plant and outlet store.
And while the candy company is no longer owned by family owned by people living in town, it still holds a special place in the hearts of E-town residents.
Especially during a parade.