Family Candy Business Flourishes

Friday, July 7th 2000, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Mark Haley has chocolate in his blood.

The 48-year-old runs Tacoma candymaker Brown & Haley, which his grandfather co-founded during World War I and made its name on a candy created 77 years ago.

Haley, who is president of Brown & Haley, said Almond Roca — a buttercrunch and chocolate confection rolled in nuts — has long been the flagship of the company, popular throughout the country.

And as Brown & Haley expands its international presence, that old-fashioned candy is going to lead the way.

``I have no doubts whatsoever that its power of seduction will continue to work its magic in many many more mouths and stomachs in many more countries in the years ahead,'' Haley said.

Export sales currently make up 15 percent of Brown & Haley's total sales.

Brown & Haley got its start in 1912 when J.C. Haley, an Ohio native with a flair for sales and advertising, teamed up with Northwest candymaker and store owner Harry Brown.

They incorporated in 1914, and by 1916 the pair had a full line of candy products, including a chocolate and nut bar with a vanilla-cream center called Mt. Tacoma — later known as the Mountain Bar. The pair decided the key to survival was innovation and experimentation.

They hit the jackpot in 1923 with Almond Roca.

Named by a local librarian, Almond Roca quickly became Brown & Haley's most popular candy. Today, the company makes and ships more than 800,000 pieces of Almond Roca daily to customers in the United States and 63 other countries.

The log-shaped candy is a smooth, crunchy confection made with a buttercrunch center of vanilla and butter that is covered with chocolate and topped with fresh almonds. The candy is then wrapped in its signature gold foil and sold in air-tight tins.

Though Almond Roca remains its signature candy, Brown & Haley also is the nation's third-largest manufacturing wholesaler of boxed chocolates behind Russell Stover and Hershey's and has expanded into other areas such as syrups, cookies, popcorn and ice cream.

More recently, the company introduced Zingos — a leap into the sugar-free and breath mint categories — that is targeted to a younger generation and was the single most successful product launch in company history.

Haley's family bought out the Browns in 1944. The privately-held company doesn't release sales figures.


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