The Startup Candy Company’s confections and candies have been hand-crafted in Utah since the 1800s. For our most popular candies, the Jumbo Pops and Hard Candy Drops, we use the same nostalgic recipes that have been used for over 150 years! They are available in all of our 40+ flavors.
William Startup started making candy in his basement in Manchester, England in 1820. He developed the first hard candy and called it “American Cough Candy” because he hoped to bring his new recipe to America one day. However, William passed away before making it to America, but he left his legacy to his son and namesake. William Startup Jr. learned the candy-making process as a young boy and continued to run his father’s candy business.
In 1868 William and his new bride immigrated to the United States and made their home in Utah where the dry climate is ideal for candy making. In 1874 the couple settled in Provo, Utah where their store quickly became a popular attraction. The Startup Candy Company has passed through five generations of Startups. Today, employees use the same recipes and passion for candy-making to create a one-of-a-kind and old-fashioned candies and suckers.
THE STARTUP CANDY COMPANY STORY
A Brief History of Candy in America
Did you know that 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 19th century. An international confectionery exhibition was held in London in 1851 which attracted France and Germany to the candy industry.
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 “sugar plums” which were all made by hand. Other fancy candies had to be imported. Due to the development of specialized machinery, the candy industry began to grow during the 1840s. In 1850, there were 383 large candy factories that employed 1,733 workers. By the turn of the century, there were 4,297 factories employing 33,000 employees and producing $80 million worth of candy. In 1909 the value of goods produced jumped to $135 million, and by 1924, the U.S. was leading the world in both candy production and consumption.
Startup Candy in 1830 England
William Startup “started up” his candy business in the 1830s in Manchester, England. Jon Startup, former President of Startup Candy Company, said of its 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 “medicine” and named it “American Cough Candy” because he wanted to come to America. His American dream never materialized. He died in March 1862.”
His son, William Daw Startup lived 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 the recipes. After arriving in America, he stopped in Philadelphia and purchased valuable candy molds.
Startup Candy in Utah 1868-1900
Willam Daw Startup and Hagar Hick were married 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. His store was the first candy store in the Utah territory! Every 6 months, 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 boomed, 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. They taught their children to help where they could, even with little tasks. When their father sensed that they had sweet desires, he realized he was helping to continue his own father’s dream of passing the businesses on to his family in the United States.
After only four years of building a 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 first filled candy bar in America. The “Opera Bar,” with three layers of cream filling in chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry sold for 10 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. Its history and list of ingredients are still printed on the box.
Soon after the Opera Bar, Startup’s “Magnolias” candies 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 used not only for the Opera Bar and Magnolias candies, 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 Candy became one of its early distributors. This beverage was also used in some of their confections.
Startup Candy Company 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--a special rose-flavored chewing gum.
By 1898, Startup’s factory was crowded with nearly 20 employees. Along with their other firsts, Startup Candy 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.
Startup Candy Company 1900-Present
By 1920, Startup Candy Company 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 was based until 2020.
Walter’s young son, Harry, followed in his father’s footsteps--literally-- in the factory. As he grew, Harry carefully poured, pulled, and pummeled hard candy, taffy, and chocolates of all kinds. This continued the special 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, continued operating the factory. Like his father before him, Harry continued the love and tradition of candy-making until his death in 2008. Jon, the 5th generation, carried on the family tradition until 2020. Today it is operated by candy lovers who share an affinity for preserving traditions and creating quality candies for all to enjoy!