Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Huyler's Chocolate at the Mingei

I only discovered this art museum in Balboa Park a couple of months ago.  I had walked by it many times on free Tuesdays thinking it wasn't a free museum.  Well, my loss...  Every visit has been a pleasant surprise.

Today I went in and ran across this odd exhibit called "A Golden Age of Marketing Design" about Huyler's Chocolate.  ...never heard of it.  It turns out Huylers was in business for fifty years and for much of that time it was the biggest chocolate company in the country.  The company and it's products have now  completely disappeared.  The Huyler family sold the business in 1925 and it went bankrupt during the depression a few short years later.   I was born in 1952 and have never heard of this company before today.  Can you imagine Microsoft going out of business and within 20 years nobody has ever heard of it before.

Huyler's was the first candy company in the U.S. to use large-scale advertising to market its products-- as a result it became the major candy company in the U.S. during its fifty years.  By 1915 Huyler's was producing over 1600 varieties of candies.

During this period in our history few women worked outside the home, and those that did were often grossly underpaid and slaved in conditions that were pitifully unhealthy.  Huyler's factories were models of egalitarian reform which was very rare in that time.  Most of Hulyer's 2000 employees were women and given managable workloads, paid holidays, medical aid and disability compensation.

By the time the business was sold by the family in 1925 fourteen factories produced the chocolates that were sold in fifty-one Huyler's Stores and soda fountains throughout the East Coast while its products were sold in over 5000 small businesses nationwide.  Despite the rapid expansion Huyler's chocolates were never mass-produced.  The business relied on maintaining its reputation for supplying the best chocolate in America.