Elmer's Fine Foods
Elmer's Fine Foods, or just Elmer's, is a snack food company based in New Orleans, Louisiana. Started in 1946, Elmer's makes snack products like its popular Chee Wees (a common New Orleanian phrase for any cheese puffs) and Mardi Gras cheese curls sold in various southeast states. They also specialize in the production of Easter candy such as Heavenly Hash and Gold Bricks that are popular in the Gulf coast states. The Elmer's mascot is a mouse in a tuxedo and spats. Their plant and offices are located in the Ninth Ward, a part of New Orleans that was heavily flooded by Hurricane Katrina. As of December 26, 2006, Elmer's offices have been rebuilt, and they are currently taking orders and shipping products.
The Elmer Candy Company started off as The Miller Candy Company, launched by Christopher Miller in 1855. He then gave the company to his son-in-law, Augustus Elmer, who changed the name to Elmer Miller Candy. He then turned the company to his five sons, who invented the cheese curl and they became a big seller for the company. The brothers also invented many new popular candy products such as Bubblets (available in peppermint, licorce, and fruit flavors) and several Easter candies. The company quit producing Bubblets in the early 1980s to concentrate on their Easter line.
In 1939 the sales manager for Elmer’s, Morel M. Elmer, Sr., held a contest in New Orleans to name the famous cheese curls. The name that won was "Chee Wees", and that name is still used to this day. Later, Morel Sr.'s son Morel Jr., decided to branch out to a new company that was eventually turned into Elmer's Fine Foods. He decided to package the "Chee Wee's" in cellophane rather than the cans and glass jars used by the Elmer Candy Company itself.
In 1963, the five sons of Augustus Elmer sold the Elmer Candy Corporation. By doing this, they had to forfeit the trademark names of the products. Elmer’s Fine Foods lost the ability to use the name CheeWees, so for the next 25 years Elmer’s Fine Foods sold their famous cheese curls using names such as Chee-T’s and Chee-Z-Snax.
In 1984, son of Morel, Jr., Alan Elmer, Sr. entered the business and with that began modernizing the company and increasing sales. His goal and dream was to be able use his grandfather’s trademarked CheeWees name. Alan began to sell new products, add new equipment, and update product packaging. And eventually in 1993 he purchased the naming rights back from the Elmer Candy Corporation, beginning to once again sell CheeWees.
After facing devastation from Hurricane Katrina, Elmer’s Fine Foods re-opened in January 2007, as well as launching a company web site. Today, Alan, Stephen, and Paul Elmer are the fifth generation of the Elmer family to be in the food business in New Orleans. The CheeWees they produce still live up to the same quality standards that their grandfather used 70 years ago. CheeWees are sold throughout Mississippi and Louisiana, and sales are continuing to expand to other southern states.
In popular culture
- Cheese puffs – Elmer's Fine Foods were involved in their invention.
- Elmer's Quality Snacks - The Original Chee Wees (company website)
- http://www.elmerscheewees.com/Articles.asp?ID=142 (company website)