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Candy stores across the United States are experiencing a boom in sales as people reach for the comfort and familiarity of their favorite sweets during the recession. The economic bust seems to have a sweet tooth. As unemployment has risen and 401(k)s have shrunk, Americans, particularly adults, have been consuming growing volumes of candy, from Mary Janes and Tootsie Rolls to Gummy Bears and cheap chocolates, say candy makers, store owners and industry experts.
The New York Times reports that while we can’t quite pinpoint why, for many, sugar lifts spirits dragged low by the languishing economy. For others, candy also provides a nostalgic reminder of better times. And not insignificantly, it’s relatively cheap.
Many big candy makers are reporting rising sales and surprising profits even as manufacturers of other products are struggling to stay afloat. Cadbury reported a 30 percent rise in profits for 2008, while Nestlé’s profits grew by 10.9 percent, according to public filings. Hershey, which struggled for much of 2008, saw profits jump by 8.5 percent in the fourth quarter.
Lindt & Sprüngli, which specializes in more expensive products like Lindt and Ghirardelli chocolate, announced that even though it expects to close some of its luxury retail stores this year, it also expects chocolate sales to remain strong through mainstream retailers like Wal-Mart and Target.
There may be historic precedent to the recessionary strength of the candy business. During the 1930s, candy companies thrived, introducing an array of confections that remain popular today. Snickers started in 1930. Tootsie Pops appeared in 1931. Mars bars with almonds and Three Musketeers bars followed in 1932.
Hershey, the dominant candy brand during the Depression, remained profitable enough through the 1930s for the company to finance its own work program for the unemployed, said Pamela Whitenack, Hershey’s community archives director.
“Candy companies are relatively recession-proof,” said Peter Liebhold, chairman of the Smithsonian Institution’s work and industry division. “During the Great Depression, candy companies stayed in business.”
You can read more at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/24/nyregion/24candy.html?_r=1.