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- Ganong Bros. (firm)
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Ganong Brothers Limited, a confectionery company in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, on the American border, was founded by James (b. 1841) and Gilbert White Ganong (1851-1917) in 1873 as a grocery store named G.W. Ganong, Commission Merchant. The business nearly failed within its first few months before the brothers discovered the market for specialty goods such as fruit, nuts, and candy. After unsuccessful attempts to buy candy from other suppliers, the Ganongs began to manufacture their own.
In May 1877, the Ganong business was destroyed by fire but was soon back in operation. By 1884, the Ganong brothers had expanded, forming a partnership with James Picard of Calais, Maine, to manufacture soap at the St. Croix Soap Company. In 1884 the divided their interests: Gilbert managed the candy company and James ran St. Croix Soap Co.
Until the mid 1880s, the Ganongs relied on unspecialized local labour to make their candy. Then they hired Chris Laubman, a 16-year-old from Bavaria, Germany, whose family were professional candymakers and who was trained in the craft. Over the next few years the company hired several trained candymakers. Frank Sparhawk specialized in hard candy and invented the Chicken Bone, one of the company's trademark products. George Ensor was the gumdrop man and, with Arthur Ganong, invented the 5-cent chocolate bar. Versatile Edward Bosein specialized in pan candies and also invented the Palomine chocolate bar; Alex Reid's specialty was caramels.
The addition of the expert candymakers enabled Ganongs to compete with larger firms by developing unique new products of the highest quality. In 1889, the company patented a process for stamping GB, which stood for Ganongs' Best on individual chocolates. In 1906, Ganongs began mixing their own chocolate, using beans from Trinidad, Ecuador, Ceylon and Brazil specially selected by Arthur Ganong. In that same year, Ganongs started the Home Paper Box Company to provide good quality packaging at an economical price. The Home Paper Box Company grew from 20 to 100 employees and invented the heart-shaped box for Valentine candy.
In 1892, the legal name of Ganong Brothers became Ganong Brothers Limited.
From about 1910 to 1920, Ganongs experienced labour shortages and even considered moving out of St. Stephen. A rival, the White Candy Company begun in 1865 by Thomas White, manufactured full lines of candy and confectionery in Saint John, New Brunswick. By 1911, with its name in bad repute, the company was bought out by Ganongs, and the company name was changed to the Corona Company. The Corona plant was used to manufacture its second line, 'Lily Chocolates'. The Corona Company, run by Walter Ganong, Arthur's younger brother, lost money but was intended to keep competition out of Saint John.
After Gilbert Ganong died in 1917, James' son, Arthur (1877-1960), and his three brothers took control of the company under Arthur' s management. Financial difficulties and challenges to the control of the company within the family during the mid to late 1930s eventually were settled by the courts.
R. Whidden Ganong (b. 1906), Arthur's son, was president from 1957-1977. David Ganong (b. 1943) the current president of the company, took over when R. Whidden retired in 1977. David is Arthur's grandson, son of Philip Ganong (1908-1985).
David Folster, The Chocolate Ganongs of St. Stephen; Information kept in New Brunswick Museum Ganong CB and Ganong Candy Manufacturers CB
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