The history of candy began when sweets were first produced by physicians and apothecaries to hide the taste of medicine. It was in England that candy making really began to rise in the early first half of the nineteenth century. An international confectionery exhibition was held in London in 1851 which attracted France and Germany to the Candy industry. France later became famous for developing bon bons.
Across the sea, the United States was already involved in the industry with twenty small factories in Philadelphia by 1816 and as many more in New York. The first candies were mostly limited to an assortment of stick and molasses candies and some called "sugar plums," all made by hand. Other fancy candies had to be imported. Due to the introduction of machinery the industry began to grow during the 1840's. A revolving steam pan, the first machinery for the candy industry, was developed by Sebastian Chaveau of Philadelphia in 1843. In 1844, a lozenge making machine was produced by Oliver R. Chase of Boston. The industry was advancing rapidly in the U.S. and grew from 383 large factories employing 1,733 in 1850 to 4297 factories employing 33,000 and producing $80,000,000 worth of goods in 1900. In 1909 the value of goods produced had jumped to $135.000.000 and by 1924 the U.S. was leading the world in candy production--and also consumption.
Wiliam Startup started up his candy business in the 1830's in Manchester, England. Little did he dream his descendants would continue his buisness in America into the Millenium. In Utah his grandsons created the very first candy bar, as well as the predecessor of breath-sweeteners. Harry Startup, current President in Provo, says of its beginnings:
As candy was first being developed in England, William Startup, my great-grandfather made confections in the basement of his store in Manchester, England. His son, William Daw Startup (my grandfather) was born September 8, 1846 and, as a young boy, he learned the process from hs father. William developed a delicious hard candy as a medicine and named it American Cough Candy because he wanted to come to America. His American dream never materialized. He died in March, 1862.
William Daw Startup joined the L.D.S. Church in Birmingham, England, and met Hagar Hick. They became fast friends. Because she joined the L.D.S. Church, Hagar's relatives called her little Mormon devil. To escape their criticism, America became her dream. In 1868, at the age of 16, she accepted the responsibility of migrating with Mrs. John Strickley, a semi-invalid, and caring for her two children. This would pay for her food and passage. Hagar told Startup that he would have to come to America if he wanted to marry her.
Hagar's family never suspected she was leaving home that memorable day when she walked out, wearing her best clothes and a feather-plumed hat. She boarded the ship Minnesota without any luggage. Later, while crossing the plains, she still wore the same clothes and hat, while carrying one Strickley child on her back and the other under her arm.
After arriving in the Salt Lake Valley in 1868, she went on to Wanship until William Daw arrived there the following October with his sister Harriett. Upon leaving England, he carefully packed his father's candy tools, including scales, iron edging bars, a drop machine, shears, hooks and recipes. In America he stopped in Philadelphia and purchased valuable molds.
William Daw Startupand Hagar Hick were married in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City November 14, 1868, and lived in Wanship for a short time. For a year he taught school in Peoa. However, candy making ran in his blood and he felt that continuing his father's confections would find a ready market in the mountains. The dry climate was ideal for candy making. Since the larger population was in the Salt Lake Valley, he and Hagar moved there and lived in a dugout, then a log cabin in the 20th Ward. He opened a store near the Salt Lake Theater where he sold his confections. At Conference time he maintained a refreshment stand by Temple Square, selling sandwiches--and, of course, his candy.
In 1874 the Startup family moved to Provo where William Daw set up his candy store at 230 West Center Street, near the old Brigham Young Academy. He stayed open at night until the dances closed at the Academy. Passing dancers called, "So long, Bill, the Upstart."
Business escalated, as did his family, with children born, as follows: William (1869), Minnie (1871), Walter (1874) and George (1877).
Even though Hagar was busy with the children, she also helped in the factory. And so did the growing boys. Even with little tasks. When their father sensed that they had sweet desires, he realized that his business would continue through them.
Mostly the Startups made hard candy animals in the molds purchased in Philadelphia. These caught the eye and taste.
Then William Daw learned about a new candy salt water taffy made by John Taffee McDonald in the early 1869's. Sugar was hauled into the Salt Lake Valley by ox team before the railroad came and sold for $130 per 100-pound bag. Thrifty pioneers could make their own candy cheaper from sorghum, sugar cane, or sugar beets. By the time William started his business, sugar was not so expensive, so he added taffy to his confections. He was also the first person to produce stick candy, according to his daughter, Minnie Alice.
After only three years of blossoming business, tragedy struck in 1878. One day William Daw tried to lift a large sandstone slab for cooling candy. The strain ruptured a blood vessel in his stomach, causing excruciating pain. Three days later he died. Although Hagar tried to maintain the business, her small children still demanded first place. William was 9, Minnie 8, Walter 4, and George was only a year old. He was employed at the Provo Inquirer, where he learned about printing. This knowledge became indispensable after the sons revived their father's candy business
In 1894 these young men organized the Startup Candy Company. Walter managed the actual candy making operations. George handled the business end and William headed an impressive sales staff, which spread out to sell confections all over the country. They soon built their first factory at 69 South 300 West in Provo.
In 1895 they developed the very FIRST candy bar in America with a filling. The "Opera Bar," with three layers of cream filling chocolate, vanilla and strawberry sold for ten cents and it became popular even in other countries. After more than a hundred years, it is still packaged in a lightweight small cardboard box, which opens on ends. "Startup's Opera Bar" is written across the picture on the box. It's history and list of ingredients is still printed on the box.
Soon after the Opera Bar, Startup's "Magnolias" were developed. These were tiny quarter-inch sugar balls filled with perfumed liquid, and packaged in small boxes. This candy became the forerunner of modern breath sweeteners and is still sold in small boxes. The brothers used their knowledge, gained from working at the Inquirer, and set up a printing press to create their own multi-sized boxes. These were not only for the Opera Bar and Magnolias, but Startup's was one of the few companies west of the Mississippi River to produce their own attractive boxes for their hand-dipped chocolates. The press is still in production.
Coca-Cola made its debut at this time and Startup's became one of its early distributors. This beverage was also used in some of their confections.
Startup's was among the first early major chewing gum producers. Their flavors included grape, orange, cherry, licorice, spearmint, extra-mint, lime, fruity-fruit, and others. Their exotic gums included Violet, Floro, and Oriental Bouquet. Buy-Roz gum was a special rose-flavored chewing gum.
By 1898 Startup's factory was crowded with nearly 20 employees. Along with their other firsts, Startup's was the first factory in Utah to give their loyal employees a profit-sharing bonus. Demand dictated building a larger factory in Provo at 534 South 100 West, where the company store is still located.
Large painted advertising signs were posted on commercial and rural buildings, such as barns, throughout the state. Startup's artistic posters were mounted in stores and businesses. Ads appeared, some even in homes. One morning the writer visited the restored Finlinson home in Leamington, Utah. On the wall was framed 1909 Startup's ad featuring a suspended Cupid figure. Across the room clear candy animals decorated the old-fashioned mantel. Memories flooded my mind of my own youthful Christmases. Every year at least one of those Startup candy animals was tucked into our Christmas stockings.
By 1920 Startup's employed 15 salesmen and 175 factory employees who still used the candy molds brought to Utah by William Daw Startup back in 1868. The original tools brought from England are displayed in the store and factory.
In 1900 Startups started making ice cream, to sell in their store. Ice was cut from Utah Lake and stored in a dugout, then covered with sawdust so they could have ice cream for sale in the summer. A year later Startups opened their Ice Cream Parlor at 82 W. Center St.
Artimissa (Artie) Harris obtained employment at this shop and she and Walter became friends and fell in love. They were married Sept. 17, 1903. Artie's interest and concern with the business was always appreciated by Walter. Fortunately the Startup wives have always been supportive, even as Hagar was.
At the peak of Startup's prosperity, tragedy struck again-this time the Depression of 1929. Much of America's population was unable to purchase sufficient food, let alone the luxury of candy. Business sank. Walter bought out his brothers' interest in the factory and struggled for ten years before losing it to the bank. Finally he accumulated sufficient funds to buy back the north half of the factory complex and the box plant where the company is still based. There he continued business on a small scale.
Walter's young son Harry trailed his father in the plant. As he grew, Harry carefully poured, pulled, and pummeled hard candy, taffy and chocolates of all kinds. This continued the rare father/son relationship to the fourth generation. Walter continued with the business and personally made candy until his death Aug. 29, 1957, at the age of 83.
His son Harry says, "Today we make the same products as Dad did. The same recipes and some of the same molds are still used, producing the same quality candy. Handmade candy is still superior to modern automation."
In 1974 Harry and Karma opened the Startup's Candy Store at 45 North University Ave. in Provo. With their family grown, the store became chiefly Karma's "baby." It was almost like a museum, along with selling the goodies. Antiques, machinery and tools, which had been replaced in the factory, were displayed at various spots in the store, along with portraits of William Startup, William Daw Startup, H. Walter Startup, and Harry Startup. Incomparable hand-dipped chocolates were sold from glass-covered counters. Colorful drops, suckers, stick candy, hard candy animals in various sizes and other treats were also available.
Harry and his son Jon (fifth generation) have continued operating the factory at 534 South 100 West. Limited parking curtailed sales for the candy store on University Avenue, so the retail business has moved to the front room of the factory on 1st West. Working family members are supplemented in the factory by extra employees during the busy times.
Recognizing Startup's historic value, the Daughters of Utah Pioneers mounted a bronze plaque by the front door of the factory. It reads:
Erected 1969 Startup Candy Factory. In 1868 William D. Startup brought across the plains the tools of candy making: scales, iron-edging bars, drop machine, shears and hooks. After pursuing his profession in Salt Lake City, he moved to Provo and built the first candy factory in 1875. Following his death, 1878, his widow Hagar, continued the business for 10 years. In 1895 her sons William, Walter and George became owners. The original machinery is preserved at the present factory. Center Utah County.
Harry remains as president, at age 82, and his 39-year-old son, Jon, is the capable manager and candy maker. The two work together with the same devotion Harry enjoyed with his father, Walter. Kaitie, Jon's eleven-year-old daughter, is learning how to dip chocolates and puts on the "marks" which indicate their variety. Other young grandchildren are also learning sweet skills, mainly as "tasters."
Jon's wife, Stacey, is the counterpart of Hagar. Even though Stacey's time is spent principally with their children (Kaitie is 11, Branen is 9, and Aaron is 6), she works some of the time in the store and handles much of the office work. She often warns Jon not to repeat history when she observes him lifting equipment and cooling slabs that are too heavy.
At present Harry and Jon's next goal is to establish a candy museum in the factory building. They want customers and groups to be able to understand more about candy making over the past 160 years since Harry's great-grandfather William Startup "started up" his candy business in England. Jon teaches and trains family members, along with other employees. Some day another descendant, with sweet blood, will be skilled and trained to carry their special treats into the sixth generation of Startups.