Location: Bryan, in northwest Ohio, the Williams County seat and home to about 9,000 people.
Provenance: In 1906, Arthur Spangler used $450 he’d earned on a paper route to buy the Gold Leaf Baking Powder Company of Defiance at a sheriff’s sale. After moving the baking products business to Bryan, he began making Spangler Cocoanut Balls and other confections. Spangler’s siblings, Ernest and Omar, also joined the business, and by 1920, the three brothers had shifted production entirely to candy and renamed their enterprise the Spangler Candy Company. Following the purchase of Dum Dums lollipops from Akron Candy Company and A-Z Christmas Candy Canes of Detroit in the early 1950s, the Spangler company became known for hard candies, and in 1966, it introduced a mascot — the grinning, white-gloved Dum Dums Drum Man.
Today, Spangler Candy remains a fourth-generation, family-owned business, whose primary products are Dum Dums and Saf-T-Pops lollipops, Spangler Circus Peanuts, and Spangler Candy Canes. Spangler’s headquarters complex in Bryan includes office, manufacturing, and warehouse spaces, and the company has more than 500 employees in the United States and some 200 more at its co-manufacturing facility in Juarez, Mexico.
Significance: Not only are Spangler’s Dum Dums suckers the nation’s best-selling lollipop, but as the only major U.S. candy cane manufacturer, the company also produces 40 percent of the world’s candy canes. The Bryan factory produces 12 million Dum Dums and 1.5 million candy canes every workday. “In order for us to meet the worldwide demand, we manufacture candy canes year-round,” says Diana Moore Eschhofen, Spangler’s corporate communications director. Besides traditional red and white, peppermint-flavored candy canes, Spangler makes the Christmastime treat in other colors and flavors that include strawberry, orange, blueberry, cinnamon, and Oreos cookies and cream. Dum Dums in limited-edition flavors, such as Merry Cherry, Sugar Plum, Gingerbread, and Green Apple Grinch, also are enormously popular during the holidays.
Currently: Spangler candies are available in all 50 states and numerous foreign countries. Throughout the year, thousands of people travel to Bryan to visit the company’s store and museum and ride the Dum Dums Trolley for a fun tour of the candy factory, where they’re greeted by smiling and waving employees.
It’s a little-known fact that: Putting the colored stripes in candy canes is a skill that typically takes Spangler’s kitchen workers six months to master.