In September of 2009 Sandy White-Grear of the Haddon Township Historical Society sent the following article on the history of the A.N. Stollwerck chocolate factory which stood for many years at 1649-1651 Haddon Avenue.
By Sandy White-Grear, 2009
Many long-time Camden N. J. area residents can recall the wonderful scent of chocolate perfuming the air along a certain stretch of Haddon Avenue. If you were lucky, you may have sampled their delectable products in the form of foil covered Easter eggs or large chocolate “bars” packaged in plain yellow/gold boxes given to visitors and company employees. But few know the history of the A. N. Stollwerck chocolate factory once located in a large brick building at 1649-51 Haddon Avenue in Camden, N.J.
The Stollwerck chocolate manufacturing empire was founded in Cologne Germany by Franz Stollwerck. Franz Stollwerck (1815-1876), a baker, candy maker and coffee house/vaudeville-type theater owner had 5 sons (Albert Nicolas, Peter Joseph, Heinrich, Ludwig and Karl) who, beginning in 1860, gradually took over their father’s candy making business. Conflicts arose between Franz and his sons, resulting in the sons forming their own company, Gebruder Stollwerck (Stollwerck Brothers) in November 1871. One of the brothers, Heinrich Stollwerck, a wealthy and talented inventor, designed and built his own chocolate processing equipment run on steam power. It is said he owned a large castle on the Rhine River. Heinrich was the holder of several patents in the late 19th century for machinery designed to improve and automate the candy making business, ease the handling of cocoa powder, and improve the methods of roasting coffee and cocoa beans. Heinrich lost his life tragically in 1915 while adjusting a steam-operated chocolate blending machine which then exploded and caused Heinrich to fall into the chocolate and drown.
Heinrich’s brother Ludwig was principal owner of the firm Deutsche Automaten Gesellschaft (DAG) which sold films, chocolate, cigarettes and toiletries in arcades, train stations, and other public places via coin-operated machines. These machines were distributed as early as 1887. (Ludwig Stollwerck’s company became a non-exclusive distributor of Edison Kinetoscopes in Central Europe, and later signed an exclusive distribution contract with the Lumiere Brothers to show films in halls attached to the arcades that also sold Stollwerck Bros. chocolate in Stollwerck designed vending machines.) Ludwig was later appointed an Imperial Counselor of Commerce in Germany.
In the early 20th century, Albert N. Stollwerck (1871-1929), son of Heinrich Stollwerck, was charged with heading the Stollwerck Brothers growing chocolate business in America. According to the book The history of foreign investments in the United States to 1914 (Mira Wilkins, Harvard University Press, 1989) Stollwerck Brothers at first sold their chocolates in the U.S. through agents. But in about 1904 they acquired 43 acres in Stamford, Connecticut and built an American factory to manufacture chocolate products. As business grew they enlarged and opened sales offices in New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco. In 1911 Stollwerck Brothers obtained a NJ incorporation charter in Elizabeth, NJ. In 1914, a year before his father’s death, Albert finally won a lawsuit against his father for control of the American business and adoption of modern American manufacturing methods. The Stollwerck Bros. firm was ordered to pay Albert $90,638. (NY Times, January 30, 1914, pg. 11)
Several years prior to 1914, H.A. Cuppy was placed in charge of the Stamford plant and Albert Stollwerck supposedly retired from managing the Stamford facilities in 1908. (NOTE: the 1900 census shows Hazlitt Alva Cuppy, journalist, and Albert Stollwerck, candy merchant, as lodgers in the same apartment building at 23 W. 9th St. in New York City (a neighborhood near today’s Washington Square and NYU). Was this how they first made their acquaintance? Cuppy’s managerial background was as one time editor of the Public Opinion, a weekly publication.) Matters regarding the Stamford plant were further complicated by a 1910 lawsuit (Cuppy v. Stollwerck Bros.) involving a dispute regarding compensations owed to Mr. Cuppy. Although his father and uncles wanted Albert to be barred forever from engaging in the chocolate business, it was deemed a restraint of trade and, therefore, illegal. Albert remained Chairman of the Board of the Brewster Chocolate Company of New Jersey. As a result of the U.S. conflict with Germany in World War I, the United States subsidiary of Stollwerck Brothers Inc. of Stamford Connecticut was seized and auctioned off in 1918 for $1.5 million to the Touraine Company of Boston (NY Times, December 22, 1918).
The A. N. Stollwerck chocolate factory of Camden, NJ grew from a manufacturing plant constructed by the Royal Cocoa company between 1915-1918. Albert Stollwerck’s passport from 1921 lists his occupation as Manager of the Royal Cocoa Co. (formerly the Brewster Cocoa Co.) and his address as 202 Morgan St., Jersey City, NJ. Mr. Stollwerck became a naturalized citizen of the U.S. on July 17, 1912 in Hudson County, Jersey City, NJ. It appears that he never married. A NY Times article from February 17, 1919 indicates that the Royal Cocoa Company of Jersey City was destroyed by 2 fires on February 5 and 6, 1917. The company sued their insurance companies for payment of damages totally just over $510,000. According to the monthly publication Simmons Spice Mill (Jan. 1918) the Royal Cocoa Company of Jersey City was able to move some of their equipment from the destroyed Jersey City facilities to the Camden location. By mid-1929 the A. N. Stollwerck corporation was formed and operated at 1649-51 Haddon Avenue in Camden, NJ. A Certificate of Incorporation was filed on June 4, 1929 listing Henry M. Wise (Bergen, NJ), J. Cyril Donoghue (Flushing, NJ), and L. Hyler Connell (NYC, NY) as associating themselves into a corporation named A. N. Stollwerck company in the city of Camden, which was described as a manufacturer and seller of chocolate, cocoa, cocoa butter and cocoa powders, and all other products of the cocoa bean. The incorporation papers do not mention Albert Stollwerck or any other Stollwerck family member as holding any position in the corporation. By 1931 Charles H. Schumacher served as the A. N. Stollwerck company’s President, Theodore C. Weygandt, V.P., William F. Heide, Chairman of the Board, Henry M. Wise, Treasurer and Secretary, and Edwin Knust, Assistant Treasurer. According to a 1970 interview conducted by Suburban newspaper (Cherry Hill, NJ) reporter Edith Blez, Charles Schumacher was educated in Germany and France and thoroughly understood the chocolate business. (Company letterhead indicates that the A. N. Stollwerck of Camden was established in 1872, most likely as an acknowledgement of the date when the Stollwerck brothers founded their own company “Gebruder Stollwerck” or “Stollwerck Brothers.”) A. N. Stollwerck, Inc. of Camden supplied bulk chocolate and cocoa products to large retailers such as Tasty Baking Co. (“Tastykakes”), Whitmans Chocolate, and Howard Johnsons, and smaller, family owned companies that sold hand dipped candies such as Bayard’s and Hankins Fudge (Wildwood).
Albert N. Stollwerck, one time head of the American branch of Stollwerck Bros. Chocolate, died of a heart attack on the beach of Cape May, NJ on August 25, 1929. A NY Times obituary lists his age as 60 years and his address as 1553 Haddon Avenue, Camden, NJ. (NOTE: that address number may have been a typographical error.) Mr. Stollwerck had fallen ill while bathing off the shores of Cape May and was carried to shore by several other bathers, but could not be revived. He was apparently alone at the beach for the coroner had to identify him by the contents of his wallet. The obituary further acknowledges him as the general manager of the Royal Cocoa Company of Camden, NJ and founder of the American branch his family’s business. The obituary also notes that Mr. Stollwerck joined the Brewster Chocolate Company of New Jersey and became the chairman of the board of directors there after the breach with his father and the subsequent law suits. (According to the history of Wilbur Chocolate Co. of Lititz, PA, in 1927 Brewster Chocolate Company of Newark, NJ merged with the Ideal Cocoa & Chocolate Company (formerly called Kendig Chocolate Co. of Lititz, PA) to become the Brewster-Ideal Chocolate Company. Today’s Wilbur Chocolate Factory and Museum, constructed circa 1902 on Broad St. in Lititz, PA, is the original building of Kendig/Ideal.)
My connection to the A. N. Stollwerck company is through my grandfather Edward F. Schaeffer, A. N. Stollwerck chocolate factory plant manager in Camden N.J. from 1943 until his retirement from the company in 1958. Born in Tilzit Germany in 1893, my grandfather’s people were farmers and shopkeepers. He emigrated (unaccompanied) to the U.S. in 1912. My grandfather lived for a while in Jersey City and Secaucus but by 1920 he resided on Mechanic Street in Camden and is listed on the U.S. census as a “foreman” in a “cocoa factory.” Although I have no proof of this, perhaps my grandfather was involved with the Royal Cocoa business in Jersey City and then came to Camden when the firm moved its operations to Camden. This means that he was employed by A. N. Stollwerck for about 30 years, but probably in the “chocolate business” for close to 40 years. (My mother also worked at A. N. Stollwerck as a secretary in 1941, but left Stollwerck after only about 1 year for employment with R.C.A.) Through our family history I recall that my grandfather was one of only two or three employees who knew the “secret recipe” for Stollwerck’s chocolate, and that he had a very high regard for Mr. Schumacher. Our history also includes the story that my grandfather came up with a way to prevent the chocolate icing from sticking to the paper covering of Tastykakes. I grew up with an almost nonchalant acceptance that we always had an abundance of chocolate in our home which we gave as gifts to teachers, friends and family. I also recall my grandfather’s criticisms of cheaper chocolate candy that he described as “waxy.” Only as an adult did I come to appreciate that indeed there are discernable differences (what I’ve heard chocolate connoisseurs describe as “mouth feel”) between high quality chocolate and the cheaper brands.
By the 1970’s Edward T. Eastwick of Haddonfield NJ, son-in-law of Charles Schumacher, served as company president. (Charles Schumacher died in the mid-1950s.) Perhaps due to rising wholesale sugar and cocoa bean prices in the mid-1970s, the company faced financial hardship. Sale of the A. N. Stollwerck company of Camden, NJ began in May 1975 and was finalized in June 1976 with stockholders approving the sale of all machinery and equipment to Union Confectionery Machinery Company of New York for $151,000. On January 19, 1978, stockholders approved the sale of the 28,000 sq. ft. land and the Stollwerck buildings located thereon for $110,000 to the Black Peoples Movement-Economic Development Corporation of Camden, NJ. The property changed hands several times, including ownership by the Shanahan Freight company sometime in the 1980s (See Photo below.) By 1995, the property was owned by Lourdes Ancillary Services and is now used as a parking lot. The buildings have since been demolished.
Albert N. Stollwerck died just 2 months after the incorporation of the A. N. Stollwerck chocolate factory in Camden. For about 45 years after his death the company bearing his name continued the family tradition of creating high quality chocolate… for many of those years produced under the watchful eye of my grandfather.
Postscript: In 2002 Barry Callebaut AG acquired the Stollwerck brand headquartered in Cologne, Germany and founded by Franz Stollwerck. Along with their cocoa bean roasting facilities in Eddystone, PA, Barry Callebaut now operates a chocolate manufacturing plant with a chocolate-innovation lab on Suckle Highway in Pennsauken, NJ. Therefore, it could be said that, once again, Stollwerck chocolate “flows” from southern New Jersey to chocolate candy producers and bakers across the U.S.