Fanny Farmer was started in Rochester, New York by Frank O'Connor in 1919 and grew to over 400 stores before being bought and consolidated. O'Connor had previously started the Laura Secord Candy Shops in Toronto, Canada in 1913. The company was named in honor of culinary expert Fannie Farmer, who had died four years earlier; she had nothing to do with the candy stores, and her recipes were not being used. "The spelling of the first name was altered to avoid confusion." However, as a marketing device, it suggested reflected glory: high standards of quality.
John D. Hayes was president of the company for many years, from its earliest years through the 1950s. He was a shrewd businessman, and guided the company through some difficult times. During the Depression, candy sales were dropping until he slashed retail prices, and kept the company in business. During World War II, he self-imposed rationing on company stores in the US, to ensure adequate supplies of candy for the armed forces overseas. He was named 1955 "Candy Man of the Year" by the candy industry. He was also blind.
In 1962, a proxy fight allowed a group of stock market investors from New York City & New England, without experience in the candy industry, to gain control of the Fanny Farmer company. They pushed for continuous expansion of the company, spending heavily to open more retail stores, despite facing increasing retail competition. This expansion by new management financially stressed the company.
In 1992 the Archibald Candy Company acquired the brand "Fanny Farmer" and its 200 retail stores in the northeastern United States) as a sister brand to its own Fannie May candies (sold primarily in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic United States). Alpine Confections purchased both brands in 2004 after Archibald filed for bankruptcy, and merged Fanny Farmer into Fannie May. An errant path of merger and acquisitions, whereby the company became the largest chain of candy retailers in the country but without adequate financing and a viable corporate strategy, was blamed for the bankruptcy.
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- Morrell, Alan (April 19, 2014). "Whatever Happened To ... Fanny Farmer Candy?". Democrat & Chronicle. Rochester, New York: Gannett. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
- Poirier, Leon; Poirier, Rose. "Fanny Farmer: The Sweet Collectibles". Retrieved August 3, 2014.
- Goddard, Leslie (August 27, 2012). Chicago's Sweet Candy History. Images of America (Paperback). Charleston, S.C: Arcadia Publishing. p. 115. ISBN 0738593826. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
- Compare, Matson, Marci (October 21, 2011) [May 23, 1959]. "Photo Friday: Fanny Farmer, 50th and France" (photo). Edina County Historical Society. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
- "Fanny Farmer Parent Will Sell the Candy-Store Chain". The New York Times. August 5, 1992. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
- Schmeltzer, John (February 26, 2004). "Series of mistakes doomed candymaker: Some blame owner, strategy, but other causes listed too". Chicago Tribune. Articles.chicagotribune.com/. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
- "History of Chocolate". Fannie May. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
- Kimmerle, Beth (September 2003). Candy: The Sweet History (Hardcover) (1st American ed.). Portland, Oregon: Collectors Press, Incorporated. p. 176. ISBN 1888054832.
- Matson, Marci (May 23, 1959). "Photo Friday: Fanny Farmer, 50th and France" (photo). Edina County Historical Society (published October 21, 2011). Retrieved August 4, 2014.
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