Parkside Candy - Table of Contents
Candy and Candy Manufacturing
Draft Nomination - National Register of Historic Places
Parkside Candy Shoppe and Factory
3208 Main Street, Buffalo NY
By Francis R. Kowsky and Martin Wachadlo
[Edited by Jennifer Walkowski, NYSHPO]
Candy is defined as a food product based mainly on sugar. It includes a wide variety of confectionaries, such as chocolate, hard candies, soft candies, taffy, and marshmallows. The production of sugar from sugarcane began in ancient India, where pieces of sugar were first produced by boiling down the juice of the sugarcane, a plant indigenous to Southeast Asia. These sweet pieces were known as khanda, which appears to be the origin of the English word candy.
By the 4th century BC, candy had passed from the Indian Subcontinent into Persia and Greece. The later Romans popularized the taste for sweets and often used honey as the sweetening agent. Fruits coated with honey and melted sugar became popular throughout the Roman Empire and remain a popular form of candy today. During the Middle Ages in Western Europe and England, only the wealthiest members of society might take pleasure in confections. Candy appeared on the table only at the most sumptuous banquets.
Colonists from Britain and France brought candy to America in the eighteenth century. The most common form was what is today known as rock candy, a sugarcane reduction that forms crystalized sugar. All sweets in colonial America were regarded as luxury goods; few ordinary colonists ever had the opportunity to indulge a sweet tooth.
Candy making became an industry during the 1830s, when English confectioners perfected processes by which sugar and candy could be made in large quantities and at low cost to the consumer. With the invention of the candy press in the mid-1840s, manufacturers were able to make many different shapes and sizes of candy quickly and cheaply. A few years later, the revolving steam pan was invented. It greatly eased the boiling of sugar and prevented loses from burning that had plagued earlier confectioners. Because of these advances, a new market for candy emerged. In addition, a new commercial establishment made its appearance, the candy store. The oldest surviving candy store is reputed to be the one in Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire, England. It opened its doors in 1827.
After the mid nineteenth-century, candy became a pleasure that all classes of society could enjoy, including the working class. Moreover, candy now became a commodity particularly marketed to children. For better or for worse, penny candy became a staple of children’s diets from the mid nineteenth century. Candy corn (1880s), Tootsie Rolls (1896), Hershey Milk Chocolate Bar (1900), Necco Wafers (1901), Hershey Milk Chocolate Kisses (1906), and many other commercially produced sweets took up their place in the European and American diet. Already in 1868, Richard Cadbury in England had introduced the Valentine’s Day box of chocolates, inaugurating the association of candy, especially chocolate, with love and sexual desire.
In Buffalo, New York, candy made its appearance early in the history of the town. In 1820, only seven years after British soldiers had burned the village to the ground during the War of 1812, J. Guiteau’s grocery store on Niagara Street advertised the sale of various confectionery delights. In 1845, several candy manufacturers, notably John Benson and Franklin Heth, introduced the revolving pan process locally. Hard candy was the most common form of sweet at this time. As had been the practice in earlier sweet shops in England, customers purchased it by the pound. In 1877, Albert Ly, a wholesale confectioner, proudly invited customers to view the candy making machinery he had installed in his store at 301 Main Street. Ly was soon outdone when, in 1883, the New Genesee Candy Store at 532 Main Street advertised the widest variety of candies yet available in town.
In 1917, George and Molly Kaiser, together with Edward Kaiser, founded the Parkside Candy Company. The firm took its name from the residential neighborhood laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted and his firm in the 1870s and 1880s in North Buffalo where the store was located. The Kaisers opened their first candy shop and restaurant serving light meals at 2304 Main Street.
Ten years later, the Kaiser family built the candy shop and restaurant and candy factory further north on Main Street  that are the subject of this nomination. “Delicious candies, once made at night when the work of the day was done, began to appear from a daylight candy factory,” declared the company’s promotional literature.
Other names significant in the local history of candy making and retailing are the Reed Chocolate factory, Huyler’s Candy Company, Merkens Chocolate, the Quaker Bonnet Shop, Niagara Chocolate Company, Tomric Systems, Sweet Tooth, Antoinette’s, and Watson’s. (The last two are still in business [in 2015].)