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Name Jolly Rancher Candy Company
Details A number of candy companies have called Colorado home over the years. There was Brecht Candy Company (long-gone), and the likes of Hammond's and Enstrom Candies that still satisfy folks today. But the most famous has to be Jolly Rancher Candies, even though it's no longer made here.
Dorothy and Bill Harmsen moved to Colorado from Minnesota in 1942. Bill was a pilot for Continental Airlines, but he dreamed of owning his own business. The couple bought the old Johnston farm in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, about six miles east of Golden. Dorothy entered the fruit and flower business, growing gladiolas, peonies, raspberries, and strawberries, which she delivered to Denver. Later, the Harmsens also set up a woodworking shop in their barn, where they made doll beds and cocktail trays. And then they tried their hand at ice cream.
Dorothy and Bill Harmsen opened their first Jolly Rancher Ice Cream Store in Golden, Colorado, on May 28, 1949. The retail ice cream store was located under the "Howdy Folks" arch on Washington Avenue. They chose the name Jolly Rancher because Rancher gave the store a western aura and Jolly suggested a friendly atmosphere. After the first summer, the couple had more liabilities than assets. Rainy weather and insufficient ice cream manufacturing equipment haunted the enterprise. In order to get through the upcoming winter months, they added a line of bulk and boxed chocolates, which initially came from a small candy firm in Denver.
This proved a perfect combination as business prospered, and soon they even opened a number of franchises in Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska. The original Golden store was sold in 1951, but the Harmsens were still supplying chocolates to their franchises. Candy sales exceeded their expectations and soon outgrew supply. At the same time requests for their five-cent hot cinnamon taffy stick, better known today as Fire Stix (the recipe was developed by the Harmsens while in Golden) became so numerous they realized a new opportunity.
They pulled out old horse stalls in their big barn and within several months set up a full-scale candy manufacturing operation. A candy maker was hired and they rechristened their home Sugar Bar Ranch. With this company motto, the company prospered: Jolly Rancher is the only candy guaranteed to be positively superior to any other you have ever eaten!
Over the years, the Jolly Rancher plant went through numerous remodels and expansions, until it was a full-fledged plant. In 1966, Jolly Rancher merged with Beatrice Foods Company of Chicago. At the time of the merger, the plant was operating two shifts with about 250 employees. Production was nearly 125,000 pounds of candy per day! Leaf Brands purchased Beatrice Foods in 1983, which was subsequently bought by the Hershey Company. The Wheat Ridge production plant at 5060 Ward Road closed for good in 2002. Still owned by the Hershey Company, the candies are now manufactured in Mexico.
The original building was destroyed by fire in 1989. The site was vacant until 2001 when the current Frontier Building was built. The City of Golden recognized the one-time location of the first candy store with a dowtown landmark plaque on September 24, 2004.

Associated Records

Image of 2002.026.003 - Banner

2002.026.003 - Banner

Jolly Rancher Fine Candies fabric banner.

Image of 2006.005.001 - Emblem

2006.005.001 - Emblem

Silver metal Jolly Rancher brand logo.

Image of None - Poster

None - Poster

Set of Jolly Rancher Candy point of sale posters. Jolly Rancher brand logo in top left corner. Bottom of poster has fruit and the candy. 58 copies

Image of 2016.022.002 - Book

2016.022.002 - Book

"How You Can Make Money with a Jolly Rancher Franchise", flip book for presentation

Image of None - Painting

None - Painting

Framed and matted water color of the Boulder, Colorado Jolly Rancher store. Frame is white painted metal. Titled on bottom of drawing states, "Jolly Rancher store Mrs A LaSalle Boulder CO."

Image of 2012.003.007 - Box

2012.003.007 - Box

Empty white candy box with red stripes for Jolly Rancher- brand Colorado Cherry Cordials Fine Chocolate.

Image of 2012.003.008 - Box

2012.003.008 - Box

Empty Jolly Rancher Ice Cream box wrapped in plastic shrink wrap. Box has an image of a cowboy on a horse in a western themed landscape and "33% Richer Ice Cream, 1/2 Gallon". Product was made when Jolly Rancher, Inc was in Wheatridge, Colorado and most likely before it became a part of Beatric Foods in 1966. Circa 1950s.

Image of 2012.003.009 - Box

2012.003.009 - Box

Empty Fire Stix Kisses candy box. Box is red and yellow. Contains imagery of a cowboy adding wood to a fire. Product was made when Jolly Rancher, Inc was in Wheat Ridge, Colorado and most likely before it became a part of Beatrice Foods in 1966. Art work designed by Denver artist, Bob Cormack, a former Walt Disney artist.

Image of 2012.003.010 - Box

2012.003.010 - Box

Empty Grape Stix Kisses candy box made by Jolly Rancher. Box contains images of grapes and a cowboy making juice. Product was made when Jolly Rancher, Inc was in Wheat Ridge, Colorado and most likely before it became a part of Beatrice Foods in 1966. Art work designed by Denver artist, Bob Cormack, a former Walt Disney artist.

Image of 2012.003.011 - Scale, Platform

2012.003.011 - Scale, Platform

Detecto- brand, white metal food service scale used at the Sugar Bar Ranch for weighing Jolly Rancher, Inc candies. Based on inspection and calibration stickers, the scale was used from at least 1979 to 1998.

Image of 2012.003.012 - Scoop, Ice Cream

2012.003.012 - Scoop, Ice Cream

Metal ice cream scoop used at the Jolly Rancher Store. Underside of handle is marked Made in Japan.

Image of 2012.003.013 - Cutter, Sugar

2012.003.013 - Cutter, Sugar

Metal hand roller with six sharp discs used to cut Fire Stix bars candy at the Sugar Bar Ranch.

Image of 2012.003.015a - Mold, Candy

2012.003.015a - Mold, Candy

One piece of three-piece metal chocolate candy mold shaped like a bunny used by Jolly Rancher. Side of bunny candy mold with stamps stating the mold was made in Berlin, Germany.

Image of 2014.050.003 - Advertisement

2014.050.003 - Advertisement

One framed advertisement page with different businesses in Golden and the 1952-1953 Colorado School of Mines football schedule. There are a total of 54 businesses listed.

Image of 2016.037.001 - Barrel

2016.037.001 - Barrel

Small, wooden barrel with metal hoops holding Jolly Rancher hard candies. Barrel was made to commemorate the groundbreaking for an expansion on the Leaf Jolly Rancher plant in Wheatridge, Colorado on October 22, 1992. The barrel head contains a sticker with "Packaged with / Jolly Rancher/ Famous Candy/ Wheatridge, Colorado."

Image of 2016.037.002 - Concho

2016.037.002 - Concho

Round nickel silver and bronze concho with Jolly Rancher brand inside a horseshoe. Most likely used on a western saddle, or possibly a horse bridle. Stamped on the inside with illegible maker name and the words "nickel silver/ bronze trim."

Image of 2016.037.003 - Film, Motion Picture

2016.037.003 - Film, Motion Picture

Movie titled "Candy Country U.S.A.," made about the Jolly Rancher plant, Sugar Bar Ranch in 1965. The movie run time in 25:06 minutes. Film talks about making chocolates, fire sticks, and hard candy kisses and stix. Film is on a Reborn Audio Video-brand DVD. Sonochrome Pictures. Narrated by Gene Armole and Dorothy Harmsen.

Image of 2012.003.015b - Mold, Candy

2012.003.015b - Mold, Candy

One piece of three-piece metal chocolate candy mold shaped like a bunny used by Jolly Rancher. Side of bunny candy mold. Made in Berlin, Germany.

Image of 2012.003.015c - Mold, Candy

2012.003.015c - Mold, Candy

One piece of three-piece metal chocolate candy mold shaped like a bunny used by Jolly Rancher. Clip to hold both mold sides together. Made in Berlin, Germany.

Image of 2016.052.001 - Postcard

2016.052.001 - Postcard

Black and white postcard looking south on Washington Avenue in Golden, Colorado with "Howdy Folks!/ Welcome to Golden/ Where the West Remains" arch sign. The Jolly Rancher sign is visible on the left of the sign. Other businesses are visible, including Foss Drug, Gross Plumbing, Jimmie's Shoe Shop, and more.