Christmas sweetest time of year for local candy company

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. - Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year at the Chase Candy Company.

The candy company, located in Saint Joseph, makes more of its famous Cherry Mash chocolate and cherry candies during the holidays than at any other time of the year.

The 135-year-old area company is still going strong today partly because of its nostalgia.

The owner, Barry Yantis Jr., said so many of his customers tell him the candy reminds them of when they were a kid.
      
His Chase Candy Company was once one of America's biggest.  

The company gets letters from fans everyday. Yantis responds to every one of them.
    
One customer wrote recently, "Every year for Christmas my stocking was filled with Cherry Mash."  
     
Millions of cherry fondant fillings are covered in a rain of peanuts and chocolate each year. They roll down the conveyor belt and are carried to the timeless white and red wrapper that has not changed since the candy was first made.
       
Yantis said there is a reason for that.

"A salesman wanted to update the Cherry Mash logo, so I took the artist's rendering in and showed it to my father and he said in no uncertain terms that we won't change the wrapper in any way," he said. "The Cherry Mash wrapper like it is today is just like it was when he was here."

Yantis' uncle bought the candy company from the founders, the Chase family.

Today, Chase makes 14 different candies from peanut clusters to peanut brittle. Chase Candies used to make 1,000 different kinds of candy; nearly every kind of candy once made.
 
"They'd remember Boston Baked Beans, they'd remember Lemon Drops, Chocolate Stars, Jawbreakers and Jelly Beans."

Yantis started at 28-years-old. He was the boss' son.
       
He said he came in as "a chocolate boy" who helped the ladies in crisp, white uniforms dip each cherry center into chocolate by hand.

"If I didn't do it properly, they'd let me know. The ladies kept me in line, they didn't care if I was the boss' son," he said.

His uncle purchased the company in the 1940's for its sugar ration. It also helped them make Pepsi at their bottling company.
              
Yantis said the federal government's sugar tariff has driven the prices of U.S. sugar so high that it is now too expensive to make many of the sugary, jelly candies in America anymore.

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