Katharine Beecher's name appears prominently in a candy display in York Township's Cracker Barrel
.I took notice.The Beecher name is legendary in a York County that is big on candymaking... KATHERINE BEECHER
It was a successful homespun candy business with a national name.And it was a rare business run by a woman - Katharine Beecher, of course
- in the middle of the 20th century.The Manchester company has been part of Warrell Corp. for some years. That's the same Camp Hill, Cumberland County, company that operates York's Classic Caramel.But I had never run across the Beecher brand in a retail venue, particularly a national chain like Cracker Barrel.So the next time I was in the restaurant's gift shop, I checked out the candy display.The chain does a nice job of building nostalgia in its candy choices - Black Jack and Beeman's chewing gum, Necco candy and other popular treats from the past.And then there they were.Peanut Butter Duets, part of Katherine Beecher's Manchester Collection, with the imprint: "Freshly ground peant butter and crispy golden candy thinly layered and formed into delicate satin pillows."I looked around for Beecher buttermints, the candy that propelled the company in its early years.The only buttermints there were marked with the brand, Naylor's Candies.
Naylor is a York County name, so I picked up the mints to investigate their origin.The package said that they're made in Mount Wolf, Pa., neighbor to Manchester borough in northeastern York County
.Charlie and Anna Mae Naylor founded the company in Lombard, Ill., and moved to Mount Wolf in 1955, according to Naylor's Web site
."Today the candy making process is still done using much of their equipment that the factory started with," the site states.And yes, the buttermint line is a staple product.How interesting, I thought, that you can learn about your community by visiting a national restaurant chain.At the same time, good for Cracker Barrel for carrying those "delicate satin pillows" and other local treats.It's just good business on several fronts, including the fact that browsing such delicacies probably increases the size of the order in the restaurant next door.