Frederick Michael Switzer was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1865. His father, Michael Switzer, had brought his family to America during the devastating potato famines in Ireland in the mid 19th century.
When Frederick’s father drowned in an accident aboard a barge just after he was born, Frederick found himself man of the house at an early age.
In order to raise money for the family, Frederick began peddling candy on his own. He would walk the riverfront area of St. Louis, among the steamboats and fur traders, pushing a little cart full of his favorite candies. In fact, in 1880, the official census of the city of St. Louis listed Frederick as a “Mobile Candy Proprietor” ( see below ).
When he was in his late twenties, Grandpa Switzer began the Frederick M. Switzer Candy Company – which would quickly become the Switzer’s Candy Company we know today. While most people are aware of the famous Switzer’s licorice that become the nation’s leading licorice brand, many do not know that Switzer’s manufactured many different kinds of candies. These ranged from a caramel candy he named “Buttermels” ( to accentuate the creamy quality of his special concoction ), to a “Betterscotch,” to a molasses based candy he called a “Yellowjacket,” and even to chocolate candies that he proudly called “Chocolate Soldiers,” because they held up to the steaming pre-air conditioned days of the early 1900’s like “little soldiers.”
Grandpa Switzer’s humble roots nurtured a strong belief in himself. He had his own way of looking at the world, and nothing would sway him from his values. He would not compromise on the way he produced his candy, even when the depression hit- or when sugar was rationed in World War II. After he was making a good living with his candies and could afford any car he wanted, he would take the trolley everywhere he went, never even learning how to drive.
We remember him not as a successful man who walked among the business elite, but as a humble, honest man who knew all the childrens’ names of the man who swept the factory floor, or who could pick up one piece of candy in any given manufacturing line and declare that it was not right – and that the whole bake would have to be redone.
Grandpa Switzer was not focused on large company profits, nor on his next promotion. He just wanted to make the best candy, and answered only to himself.
Switzer’s Today — “We eat as much as we can, and we sell the rest.”
Today, Grandpa still lives in our values and commitment.
We do not concern ourselves with the latest fads, gimmicks, or shortcuts. We answer not to a large corporate board or bullying shareholders., but to our mission : We cook authentic, traditional candies to the quality that we expect. We then relish sharing these candies with our friends and customers.
We do everything in our power to keep our prices to an affordable level so our customers can share our candies openly with their family and friends as well. We think candy is all about the sharing.
That’s our whole story.