Peerless Quality Confection Since 1914 – RIP

Friday, January 26th, 2007 by Jon Prince

It came as a complete shock but effective 15 February,2007, one of America’s oldest candy manufacturers will be closing it’s doors leaving a void in the domestically produced bulk candy industry. Truth be told, few saw this coming and below is an excerpt from their letter as to the reasons as to why they are ceasing production…

January 12, 2007


We regret to announce that Peerless Confectionary Company, manufacturer of quality hard candies in Chicago, Illinois, since 1924, will cease operations effective April 30, 2007. Declining consumption of hard candy and the increasing prevalence of imports and offshore production are two major factors influencing our decision. To remain competitive in this environment would require us to move our facility offshore, which is not an option we are willing to consider. To do so would betray our tradition of quality and our commitment to our family of workers.

For 93 years Peerless has been proud to offer our customers the finest quality hard candies made in America. That tradition will continue until the last piece of candy is produced….”

While their candies will surely be missed, we have been told that there will be some marvelous condos available in the “former candy factory…”

It’s an interesting thought experiment to consider how much of their closing is truly due to the hard state of the candy biz these days, and how much of it is due to the financial benefits from selling the business to build these condos. Writing this from Pittsburgh it’s hard not to think of all of the amazing things here that have closed down and been turned into condos (the legendary rock club Laga comes quickly to mind), and Chicago is another city with a lot of history that’s suffering from the same sort of urban ennui. Whatever the motivation for Peerless Candy’s withdrawal, it’s a shame that another locally-owned company is throwing in the towel. And really, aren’t there enough luxury condos?

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35 Responses to “Peerless Quality Confection Since 1914 – RIP”

  1. DAVID KLEIN says:

    without a doubt the best root beer barrel that has ever been made

  2. Rich Smales says:

    What a shame this is. As a former employee of the company, it is sad to this company go by the board. Not only the best Root Beer Barrel ever made, but hands down the best Starlight Mint ever made, anywhere.

    PIR Peerless.

  3. Rich Smales says:

    The best Starlight Mint ever made, anywhere, hands down.

    As a former employee I can still remember the smell of peppermint oil drifting through the factory.

    RIP Peerless, thanks for allowing me to start my career in the confectionery industry there.

  4. Brittany says:

    I just moved to Chicago, and i live near the factory. I am really sad to see this factory close. It makes me heartbroken to see this wonderful factory that produced so many amazing candies be turned into condos. Stupid.

  5. Frank says:

    I also live on the train route…it’s a real shame to see Peerless close. I wish my nephew and niece got a chance to see the train coming through my parking lot.

  6. Phyllis says:

    Just wanted to tell you I am so sorry to hear Peerless candy is out of business….They had the most delicious root beer floats candy I have ever had, and I shall miss them dearly.

  7. Marc says:

    That’s all folks….
    Not only is it the end of a great candy company, but really the end of the Lakewood spur manufacturing district.
    where oh where have all the jobs gone, oh where have they gone?
    Trading American made goods and wealth for condos and chinese goods.

  8. Vicki says:

    I am simply heartbroken. Each year, I have waited in great anticipation of ordering Peerless’ delicious chocolate-filled straws, and this year I was going to add Chocolate-filled Sprig-o-mints to the order. Since the straws were only available during the Christmas season (Nov – Feb), I order enough to last the year. This time, when I sent my order in (I was later than usual) they order was processed. Days later, I received an email saying they were out of stock and didn’t know when they would have more. I thought I just missed the deadline by a day, but now I know they were probably already shutting down. I wish they had told me this, so I wouldn’t have been so anxious for November to get here. When I went to the website I have ordered them from and saw the notice that they had ceased operations, I was dumbfounded.

    I can’t imagine never having this delightful candy again. I tried another company’s chocolate-filled straws once, but I didn’t like them.

    Peerless, thank you so much for all the decades I enjoyed your candies. I will miss them dearly.

    Best of luck in all you do.

  9. Lorie Volkman says:

    I am so sad to see Peerless go. I loved the root beer candies, but my favorites were those honey filled candies. I am glad to know that I am not the last lover of hard candies. If they want to sell equipment and recipe for the honey candies, I know a few of us bee keepers could get together and start marketing those. I would like to give it a go. Seems so sad to loose the tradition.

  10. Helen says:

    Yes, Rich, Peerless Confection gave a start in candy life to many devoted employees. Our Peerless family was devastated by it’s closing operations, cause we truly were a big candy family and we were treated like a family. We will never forget the goodness of the owners and how many people they helped over 94 years in business. We thank them from the bottom of all our hearts for all they did for us till the very end. It is very sad to see such a wonderful company go but I guess it was time. However what I think it’s even sadder that only Rway Confections, Long Grove Confectionery and Georgia Nut and couple out of state candy companies offered jobs to ex-Peerless employees. Having so many chocolate and candy companies still in business in Chicago, it’s a shame that only those few extended helping hand to hard working, devoted and loyal ex-Peerless people. Peerless people – you were the best and I wish you good luck in all you do cause we really were Peerless in every way.

  11. Tony says:

    This is really bad news for Christmas candy traditionalists…the worst news since Brach’s stopped making alot of their oldtime hard candy (ie. those little pillows)due to overseas operations. The Black Walnut Chips are rare and priceless. The Vermont Country Store has some in stock, presumably Peerless, so get’em while you can ’cause you may NEVER see them again. No black walnut candy of any kind!!!!

  12. j d nelson says:

    i saw several kinds i love but the black walnut chips are my favorite

  13. A fan of hard candy says:

    This is heartbreaking. This was the only company who made honeycombed filled peanut candies. We have been eating these during the holiday since I was a child. I has been getting harder each year to find these and now they are gone.

    Sorry to see they had to shut down.

  14. Lorie G says:

    I’m so sad about this too. I was looking all over for those honeycombed hard peanut candies with the peanut butter filling….and then I came upon this news… Now, we will never have those again and it is such a bummer. It’s so sad that this would happen, and now the younger generations will never know the candies we grew up with. I wish I could have found better news at the end of my search for the peanuts.

    God bless you…

  15. Dave says:

    I believe they were the only producer of the peanut butter filled peanut shaped hard candy. It is a shame. Now that my kids are old enough I had them all excited to try the candy I grew up with… what a dissapointment.

  16. jann says:

    does anyone remember Mr. Kayloris, one of the first superintendents of Peerless Candy? His son, Johnny, was my dad’s best friend growing up in Chicago in the 1920’s. My dad is now 86 years old and still talks about how delicious the candy was.

  17. Jesus Garcia says:

    I worked for this great Company for almost 18 yrs. I am sad since our company went out of business but in the other hand I am so proud to be a part of the history of this unique company
    Thanks for all these wonderful comments.

    Jesus Garcia

  18. alleyrulez says:

    the Rods were awesome. very sad to see them go. living in Texas, I would order them online. hadn’t had them in a while, and was shocked to hear that they had been closed for a while. very sad.

  19. mister_beebe says:

    Major bummer! Their filled raspberries have been a special family treat with us for nearly 40 years.

  20. The Christmas candy was fantastic Christmas will never be the same.
    How sad.

  21. Rich Mark says:

    I\’m hooked on their anise hard candy, best on the planet, tried others they don\’t even come close. Is there a company that uses their ingrediants?

  22. I remember as a young girl with my family in the 1950s getting a private tour of the factor by the then head engineer. He was a jolly old man who devoted much of his life to the Peerless Candy Company. Often to the dismay of his wife, he would pin engineering drawings on the dining room draperies as well as have them sprawled all over the dining room table. My favorite candies were the sour fruit balls which he gave us after demonstrating how some of the machines operated. I was able to buy the candy until a few years ago here in California at Vons. I had hoped to buy some on the Internet since I hadn\\\’t seen it in the stores for awhile. Now I know why.

  23. I remember as a young girl with my family in the 1950s getting a private tour of the factor by the then head engineer. He was a jolly old man who devoted much of his life to the Peerless Candy Company. Often to the dismay of his wife, he would pin engineering drawings on the dining room draperies as well as have them sprawled all over the dining room table. My favorite candies were the sour fruit balls which he gave us after demonstrating how some of the machines operated. I was able to buy the candy until a few years ago here in California at Vons. I had hoped to buy some on the Internet since I hadn’t seen it in the stores for awhile. Now I know why.

  24. pattie says:

    peerless black walnut were the best! to my knowledge, hammond candies also makes them…

  25. I have a Peerless Confections candy tin approx ggallon size. This tin was found in an old abandoned horse barn in the Colo. Rockys. Most likely it was left there by a miner. It is in pretty good shape and we had it made into a lamp. I would be interested in finding a buyer. My phone number is posted above in the website box. Marilyn PEtrik

  26. Rick A says:

    Peerless starlite mints were the very best. Great company with wonderful employees. They were a former account I supported and I happened to mention that my grandmother loved their starlite mints (I did too). From then on, every time I visited the factory on business, they remembered my grandmother and had a huge care-package already prepared for her. How thoughtful! It meant a lot to her and it meant a lot to me. I\’ve known for a few years but it\’s still sad that such a great Chicago/ American company with great products is gone.

  27. Christene H says:

    My heart really misses the good old filled Christmas candy. Was and is nothing like them.

  28. Don Burck says:

    It is almost Christmas. I think of candy at Christmas time. I owned Burst’s Candies in Corvallis Oregon from 1972-1993. When I bought the store the seller told me that I should only carry Peerless Candies for my hard line as it was the best. The red part of the starlite mints melted at the same rate as the white part, thus no rough edges. Besides the taste, that is the test of a good mint hard candy!! Thanks for the memories!!

  29. Teresa Smith says:

    My favorite candy in the whole world was the Peerless chocolate filled straws. They were such a treat every year at Christmas time and I tried to buy up lots of extra bags to last me for months. I have tried 2 brands of these since Peerless closed down, and neither one measured up! I wish Peerless would sell their recipe for the straws to someone and they would start making them again! That would be wonderful!!!

  30. karol casper says:

    Your mixed candy is missed by all at The Admirals Club!!! Especailly the Butterscotch!!!

  31. ana caban martinez says:

    I remember my dad working at peerless around the 70 we use to live right across the streetmy dad’s name was Carlos he loved his job .

  32. BJ says:

    Does anyone know what year Peerless Candy opened their doors on Lakewood Street? They were not always on Lakewood Street.

    B ~

  33. Verna Sprouse says:

    would love to find a recipe for the black walnut chip candy. anyone have one?

  34. Russ says:

    Do you remember the Peerless Dr. B Happy “Candy Pills” novelty candy?!

  35. D Garrett says:

    This was brought on by hurricane Katrina and Rita in 2005. They practically wiped out the sugar cane crop. Sugar prices went up, the government subsidized the sugar farmers and protected them by not allowing candy companies to import cheaper foreign sugar. As a result you will find most all hard sugar candy is now made in Mexico, Central America and Canada. Check out the packages, Life Savers are made in Mexico now.

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