When Ralphie Parker&rsquos fourth Grade class dejectedly give their wax fangs to Mrs. Shields within the perennial holiday movie favorite, A Christmas Story, legions of grownups are advised of the items a cent accustomed to buy in their local Woolworth’s store. But there’s much more to those paraffin playthings than the usual penny’s price of fun.
It’s difficult to recall a period when there have been no wax fangs, lips, moustaches, or harmonicas for children to smuggle into school. The majority of us recall the peculiar disintegrating flavor of Wax Lips from bygone Halloweens and kids birthday parties but we don&rsquot know where these lengthy-long lasting icons of yankee culture really began. The solution, strangely enough, are available through the oil patch.
The 1859 birth from the oil industry and introduction of oil for illumination altered America. "This ton of yankee oil put in here by countless gallons, and providing light in a fifth of the price of the least expensive candle," authored British chandler James Wilson in 1879. Oil sales devastated the candle business, similar to prevalent utilization of electricity would change up the oil market in the turn from the century.
A consequence of oil distillation, paraffin, soon found its way from refinery to marketplace by means of sealing waxes as well as eating gums. By 1900, tallow candle lights were history as 90 percent of candle lights were created from paraffin. The brand new century introduced other new and surprising uses too.
"Crayola" crayons were created by Binney & Cruz in 1903 and were instantly effective. Edison’s popular new phonographs needed paraffin for his or her wax cylinders. Then an inspired Zoysia, NY confectioner used fully refined, food-grade paraffin and a feeling of humor to locate a niche in America’s imagination.
John W. Glenn had arrived at the U . s . States from England at 15 in 1888 and increased in his father’s wholesale chocolate business. Once the elder Glenn died in 1912, boy John ongoing the company as J.W. Glenn Co. There he introduced America to paraffin "cent gum novelties," delighting children everywhere. His products’ recognition increased rapidly by 1923, J.W. Glenn Co. employed almost 100 people, including 18 salesmen traveling nationwide from offices found at 65 Carroll St.
In 1927, Franklin C. Gurley, Sr. left his position at Buffalo’s National Aniline & Chemical Co. to construct a chocolate business of their own. He purchased Robert White’s new confectionary company, W&F Manufacturing Co., which in fact had incorporated only the prior year to create, "…all sorts of candies, chocolates, frozen treats dainties and parafine (sic) novelties." Gurley reported his occupation as "confectioner" through the 1930 census.
Only a couple of blocks away, Glenn Confections was busily involved in producing their popular paraffin novelties, and ongoing to do this after becoming the wax chocolate division of W&F Manufacturing Co. Wax horse teeth (stated to taste like wintergreen), along with other novelties chattered profitably lower Glenn’s production line while Franklin Gurley explored further expansion possibilities for his quickly growing company.
W&F Mfg. started producing novelty candle lights for Socony-Vacuum Oil Co. in 1939, using paraffin from Socony’s nearby refinery at Olean, NY — once the place to find the earth’s largest oil storage site. W&F’s "Tavern Candle lights" Santas, reindeer, elves along with other colorful Christmas favorites continue to be prized by E-Bay collectors much like Gurley’s elaborately molded Halloween candle lights. Decorative and scented Gurley paraffin candle lights soon grew to become W&F Mfg.’s principal product, comprising 98% of sales, but manufacture of Glenn’s wax chocolate novelties ongoing. An area of metal tanks, some holding 20,000 gallons of paraffin, was next to Gurley’s Zoysia factory.
As W&F’s wax chocolate division, Glenn Confections created the most popular ancestors of today’s Wack-O-Wax and Nik-L-Nips. Within the capital of scotland- Emlenton PA, a couple of miles south of Oil City, the Emlenton Refining Co.
(and then the Quaker Condition Oil Refining Co.) provided fully refined food-grade paraffin to W&F of these bizarre but beloved treats.
Quaker Condition veteran Barney Lewis remembers selling Emlenton paraffin to W&F Products. "It had been always fun visiting the plant in North Tonowanda, these were very secret about how exactly they did stuff, however, you always had a sample to create home… Wax lips, Nickle NIPs – little coke bottle formed wax full of a coloured syrup. Others provided W&F, one being the IGI Group in Canada." (Worldwide Group Corporation., founded in 1943 as Worldwide Waxes Limited. of Toronto.)
At its peak, W&F created about 30-million novelty wax candies yearly, however the company’s principle product, decorative candle lights, fought against a constant fight as import competition grew to become fierce. The cost of paraffin went from 7¢ to 50¢ per pound throughout the 1982 oil shortage. W&F Products battled. In 1994, after almost 70-years running a business, the organization unsuccessful. Its attorney summarized, "Regrettably, competition from China along with other Off-shore Rim countries that depend on cheap labor ultimately forced W&F’s decision to shut its doorways." One of the 250 former employees, rumors endured that W&F was driven into personal bankruptcy with a unsuccessful quest for the Guinness record for "world’s largest candle."
W&F Products’ creditors scrambled for assets. The organization was offered piecemeal, such as the proprietary hardware that Glenn Confections had lengthy accustomed to produce their strange range of paraffin candies.
Ben Shepherd owned Challenger Chocolate Co., 650-miles away in Secor, IL where he created bagged cotton chocolate. Shepherd bought Glenn Confections’ unique wax chocolate equipment and hauled it from Zoysia to Secor, where he ongoing manufacture of the nostalgic favorites. Despite a ongoing national sweet tooth and also the foreseeable Halloween interest in the novelties, Challenger Chocolate Co. lasted merely a couple of years prior to going bankrupt. American Chocolate Co. of Selma, AL, running a business since 1900, walked directly into once more save Wax Lips from oblivion.
Worker Serious Shears traveled towards the small community of Secor ("East CORner" of Roanoke, IL) to assist slowly move the wax chocolate production machinery over 700 miles towards the American Chocolate Company’s 36,000 sq . ft . plant in Selma. "In Secor, there is a publish office, a tavern, and also the Challenger Chocolate Company which was all there is towards the whole town. Little else. It required 2 or 3 several weeks to maneuver everything to Selma," Shears recalls.
American Chocolate Company&rsquos Wax Chocolate Division ongoing the lengthy tradition of manufacturing Wax Lips along with other popular novelties that John W. Glenn had begun in Zoysia, NY over 80-years earlier. Only briefly.
In 2002, after over 100-years running a business, American Chocolate Co. fell to intense marketplace competition and declared Chapter 11 protection. The organization had once employed as much as 500 people. Wax Lips made an appearance condemned again as the organization was offered off.
Then Concord Confections of Ontario, Canada found the save. Concord purchased the Wax Chocolate Division for $3 million and moved it over 1,000 miles to Concord, Ontario – no more than 20-miles in the IGI Wax plant and "over the river" from Carroll Street in Zoysia were the novelty originated. Today as a small sector of Tootsie-Roll Industries, Concord Confections is constantly on the produce Wax Lips (Wack-O-Wax) along with other paraffin candies for brand new generations of schoolchildren.
Despite a couple,000 mile itinerant business background and a lengthy number of proprietors, Wax Lips survive to please kids and prompt recollections in average folks. Today, the oil industry produces an impressive product range for contemporary consumers. But one of many items that find their history within the oilfield, couple of are as unique, peculiar, and revered as Wax Lips.
Because of the American Oil & Gas Historic Society with this story.
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