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In early 2008, the last Candy Raisins rolled off a production line at Pewaukee’s now-shuttered Stark Candy factory. New England Confectionery Corp. (NECCO), which owned the Stark plant, concluded the market for Candy Raisins was too small. Thousands of Candy Raisin crazies beg to differ. The Candy Raisin – a small, gummy, ginger-flavored confection – […]


In early 2008, the last Candy Raisins rolled off a production line at Pewaukee’s now-shuttered Stark Candy factory. New England Confectionery Corp. (NECCO), which owned the Stark plant, concluded the market for Candy Raisins was too small. Thousands of Candy Raisin crazies beg to differ.

The Candy Raisin – a small, gummy, ginger-flavored confection – was a longtime Milwaukee favorite. “We used to order up to 7,500 pounds at a time,” says Milt Pivar, former co-owner of Goldmann’s Department Store. “We shipped them all around the country. People couldn’t get enough of them.”

Debbie’s Sweets ’n Treats in Oak Creek (now nostalgiccandy.com) saw similar demand. Even today, more than two years after the last batch of these golden gumdrops was made, Not Just Nuts on 65th Street and North Avenue still gets four or five customers a day looking for them, according to owner Gary Garski.

Candy Raisins date back to the 1930s. At that time, they were made by three companies: the American Candy Co. and Ziegler Candy Co. in Milwaukee, and San Francisco’s Haas Candy Co. According to Terry Klippel, whose family owned American, Stark purchased the company in 1939 and took over operations, finally trademarking the recipe in 1976.

Gary Radke of Green Bay may be the Candy Raisin’s biggest supporter. Once he heard of its demise, he launched savethecandyraisins.com, which contains a petition that by now has more than 6,300 names. “We decided we had to do something to save this icon of our childhood,” Radke said in a press release.

Shortly after the Stark plant closed, Margaret Gile, president of Quality Candy Shoppes/Buddy Squirrel, offered to buy the equipment and recipe from NECCO. “Candy Raisins were by far the biggest-selling candy product that we did not manufacture ourselves,” Gile says.

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But NECCO declined the offer, and Quality Candy Shoppes/Buddy Squirrel has since filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy – leaving candy-lovers chafing. Because, as one petitioner commented, “A day without Candy Raisins is like a day without sunshine.”

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