How We Got Started

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 19th 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 1733 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.

William Startup "started up" his candy business in the 1830's in Manchester, England.  Little did he dream his descendants would continue his business in American in to the Millennium.  In Utah, his grandsons created the very first filled candy bar, as well as the predecessor of breath mints.  Jon Startup, current President in Provo, says of it's beginnings:

"As candy was first being developed in England, William Startup, my great-great-grandfather made confections in the basement of his store in Manchester, England.  His son, William Daw Startup, (my great grandfather) was born September 8, 1846 and, as a young boy, he learned the process from his 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. Hagar told William that he would have to follow her to America if he wanted to marry her.  Within a few months, he followed her to Utah. 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 candy molds.

Willam Daw Startup and Hagar Hick were married in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, November 14, 1868.  Utah's dry climate was ideal for candy making.  Since the larger population was in the Salt Lake Valley, 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 set up his candy store at 230 West Center Street, near the old Brigham Young Academy.  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.

After only four years of blossoming business, tragedy struck in 1878. One day William tried to lift a large sandstone slab used 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 by selling small batches of candy, her small children demanded her attention.  William was 9, Minnie 8, Walter 4, and George was only a year old.  As the boys grew older, they apprenticed with the Provo Inquirer, where they learned about printing.  This knowledge became indispensable after the sons revived their father's candy business.

In 1894, the 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 in 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. They were tiny liquid centered perfume candies and packaged in small boxes.  This candy became the forerunner of modern breath mints.  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.

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, Oriental Bouquet and 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 is now located.

By 1920, Startup's employed 15 salesmen and 175 factory employees who still used the candy molds brought to Utah by William Daw Startup in 1868.    Walter bought out his brother's ownership in April of 1929 gaining full control of the company.  He was not aware of the looming stock market crash that would occur in October 1929 and with it the Great Depression. Much of America's population was unable to purchase sufficient food, let alone the luxury of candy.  Business sank. Walter struggled on for ten years before he finally sold the factory buildings.  After accumulating sufficient funds, he was able to buy back the north half of the factory complex and the box plant where the company is still based.

Walter's young son, Harry, trailed his father in the factory.  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 in 1957 at the age of 83.

Harry and his son, Jon, have continued operating the factory at 534 South 100 West. Like his father before him, Harry continued the love of candy making till his death in 2008.  Now Jon, the 5th generation, along with his wife Stacey, carries on the family tradition of creating quality candies for all to enjoy.