Salt Lake City, Utah

Founded: 1916

Privately owned

Employees: 50

Growing and considering new markets, Taffy Town has been a family business for the Glades since its founding close to a century ago.

Over its nearly 100-year history, Taffy Town has evolved from a full-line candy company serving the Intermountain West into a one-product specialty company that distributes its taffy around the globe.

Founded in 1916 by James Vernon Glade as the Glade Candy Co., Taffy Town is still a family-owned business operated by the fourth generation of Glades. When the company earned national notoriety for its salt water taffy in the 1970s, it began to sell off its other candy-making equipment and produce that candy exclusively. Today it offers more than 70 flavors of taffy.

In 1994, James Glade’s grandson David Glade, then president of the company, changed its name to Taffy Town to solidify the brand.

“We’re kind of unique in the fact that we are one of the few wholesale manufacturers that is completely specialized into one product line,” said Derek Glade, Taffy Town’s vice president of sales and marketing and the founder’s great grandson.

Derek Glade’s brothers also work in the family business. Jason Glade serves as president, and Aaron Glade is Taffy Town’s quality manager.

As a small producer in an $8 billion industry that has shown sales growth of 2.9 percent so far this year, Taffy Town is considering expanding its product line to include other types of candies, including chocolate, to further its expansion efforts. As part of its focus on creating new opportunities, the Glades are looking at options for a new factory.

They’re in a good spot. The Western region houses about 19.8 percent of candy manufacturing establishments, as well as 25.4 percent of children 14 and younger who are the industry’s largest consumer base, according to a market research report by IBISWorld.

Taffy Town distributes its candy to specialty sweet shops throughout North America, as well as internationally to countries such as Korea. Stores like Candy Baron and Sweet Factory carry the company’s products, which are easily identifiable by its logo on the wrappers’ twisted ends.

Taffy Town also has its own factory retail outlet where it plays a video on a big screen showing how the company makes its taffy using whipping and 24-hour batch conditioning processes.

(Read about other Utah manufacturers here.)

Challenges: “One of the challenges today as a candy manufacturer is finding a space for your product in a consumer base that’s becoming more and more health conscious and more wise from the food-consumption standpoint,” Glade said.

Increasing regulation in the food industry also is a challenge, requiring Taffy Town not only to be more stringent with good manufacturing practices, but also the paperwork involved. “A lot of it is market driven,” Glade said. “It’s not just the government or the FDA. You have large customers demanding more and more from a certification and quality assurance standpoint.”

Opportunities: “Having a candy that can be sampled in small portions provides a great opportunity to sell it in ways in which someone can indulge themselves without overeating too much,” Glade said. “Cany finds its way into most consumer lifestyles in a way that can be managed.”

Another opportunity is developing new flavors to meet consumers’ expanding palate for a variety of tastes such as hot or sour. “It’s fun to try to meet that and come out with new flavors every year,” Glade said. “We’ve also seen increases on sugar-free products.”

Needs: Taffy Town is at maximum capacity in its existing facility, which it built in 1940 about eight blocks from downtown Salt Lake City. “We’re looking to build a new factory to create new opportunities,” Glade said. “We could definitely use more space to keep up with growing demand.”

(Read about other Utah manufacturers here.)