Candy Factory Is Damaged In Fire

Posted: July 24, 1986

The first scent that greets a vistor to the Stutz Candy Co. in Hatboro is the sweet smell of chocolate.

But that was not the aroma that registered with company president John E. Glaser, when he walked through the factory front door on Monday.

"Do you get a slight smoke smell?" he asked a visitor.

Told no, that the chocolate fragrance dominated the air, he smiled with relief.

One week ago, a nighttime fire in the factory ruined chocolate and assorted candies valued at about $8,000. The fire, which was extinguished by the Hatboro Enterprise Fire Co., also caused minor damage to the building and several thousand dollars worth of damage to candy-making machinery, Glaser said.

Malfunctioning equipment was blamed, but Glaser said Monday that investigators were attempting to determine the cause.

The fire, which began around 11 p.m., was "very mild. Mostly chocolate (burned). Not a lot of wood or metal. It was kind of minor.

"No part of the building caught on fire," he said. The front door and three side windows were broken by firefighters hurrying into the building.

This week, the factory, where 15 employees usually hover over the assembly line, was quiet. Several workers washed down the walls and equipment for sanitary reasons, Glaser said.

The factory will not reopen, he said, "probably for two weeks."

In the meantime, the company's six Philadelphia-area stores - including those in Jenkintown, Warrington and in Hatboro, next door to the South Warminster Road factory - will continue to sell their assortment of Stutz sweets. Glaser said that none of the candy in the company stores was affected, and all candy that was affected by smoke had been thrown out.

The company, which employs 45 people, will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next year. Sold by the Stutz family to Glaser in 1965, the factory is the center of a $2 million-a-year business.

This week, all was quiet along the 40-foot conveyor belt, which reminded one visitor of the famous scene from the 1950s television show I Love Lucy where Lucille Ball, working in a candy factory, had to stuff chocolates in her mouth to keep up with the rapidly moving line.

Glaser said the well-known TV scene was not completely fiction.

"When we have new employees, it's just like that," he said.

His own line can turn out up to 230 buttercreams a minute. Other, more complex candies, come out about a 70 per minute, he said.

Near the front door, a poem called "The Candy Man" by Edgar A. Guest, hangs in a frame.

"Where on earth is a job which beats

The glorious business of selling sweets?"

Glaser chuckled and said, "Yeah, that's right. Where else can you eat all you want. Doesn't everybody like to eat candy? Everybody was raised to be good by being bribed with candy. We were all bribed with candy growing up."

The same goes for workers in the factory, he said.

"They can eat all they want," Hatboro's candy man said. "It's a benefit of the job."

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