In the early 20th century, Sedalia had a number of businesses offering a variety of foods. The 1903 Sedalia City Directory lists 10 bakeries, 14 dairies, 47 grocery stores, nine meat markets, and 10 restaurants. For those interested in sweets, the directory listed six confectioners not associated with restaurants. These confectionery shops sold soda water, ice cream, ices, fruits, nuts, fancy cakes, and homemade candies. Sedalia was also home to two candy manufacturers who produced candy for the retail and wholesale trade.
The Sedalia Candy Co. was established in 1889-90 by W. M. Harris and W. C. Burton. The 1898 Sedalia City Directory identifies the company’s located at 220 W. Main St. In 1900, the company moved to the former D. H. Smith Hardware Store at 101 E. Main St., the northeast corner of Main Street and Ohio Avenue. A 1904 photograph printed in Rebecca Carr Imhauser’s book, “All Around Downtown,” shows the company in a three-story brick building with decorative cornice, plate glass display windows on the first story, round-arched windows on the second story and segmental-arched windows on the third story.
In March 1903, according to the Sedalia Democrat, the company employed 30 workers manufacturing mixed cream candies and stick candies that were packaged in boxes and pails. Its four traveling salesmen carried on a large wholesale business, selling goods in Missouri, Kansas, and Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). The Sedalia Candy Co. also sold commercially made chewing gum and fancy confections.
Ordinarily, demand for candy rose near Christmas and lessened during the spring and summer months. However, according to the Sedalia Democrat, in March 1903, the Sedalia Candy Co. had so many orders its employees were working overtime.
The quality of the company’s goods was one reason for the high sales. At a time shortly before enactment of the Pure Food and Drug Act when many were concerned about the safety of prepared foods, the Sedalia Candy Co. factory was noted for its cleanliness and the purity of its products.
By later in the year, the company, according to Imhauser, had increased its sales staff to six and its manufacturing staff to 50.
In late 1902, the New England Candy Co. sought to cash in on the popularity of homemade candies and opened a factory at 206 S. Ohio Ave. Owner Gus Pappas employed five candy makers, three of whom had been trained in Europe. They made a variety of candies which they sold locally. According to the Democrat, the company’s business was expected to “increase rapidly.”
The Democrat’s prediction was incorrect. By the time the 1904 Sedalia City Directory was published, the New England Candy Co. was out of business.
The Sedalia Candy Co. remained in business until 1919, when C. A. Wright, M. C.Shryack, and C. C. Givens bought Harris and Burton’s candy factory. Wright, Shryack, and Givens renamed the company the Sedalia Candy and Grocery Co.