RFF # 108 – “Quality vs quantity” or “How the apprentice beat the master”

In 1883 Milton Hershey (whose chocolate you probably know and love) was an apprentice to John Huyler (someone whom I’m guessing you’ve never heard of).

The story of how the apprentice (Hershey) beat the master (Huyler), is one I couldn’t resist sharing because it is a perfect example of the struggle between quality and quantity…a struggle that permeates all aspects of life, but is perhaps never more salient then when discussing food.

At the turn of the century, Huyler’s Chocolates was extremely successful and had fifty-one stores and soda fountains across the East Coast. It’s believed that the key to John Huyler’s success was his deep sense of ethics. He insisted on producing the finest quality candy—he used only the purest ingredients, he (and his sons) sampled every batch, and he never mass-produced his product—as a result, he kept portions small to maximize quality.

Huylers Sign

So why has everyone heard of Hershey, yet no one has heard of Huyler?

That’s because two years after his apprenticeship (in 1885), Hershey left Huyler’s Chocolates to establish his own factory. However, he unfortunately did not maintain the same devotion to quality and opted to mass produce his chocolate using additives, preservatives, and substitute ingredients.

The Huyler family refused to compromise on quality and eventually sold their business. Sadly, when the new owners resorted to mass production and compromised standards, the popularity of Huyler’s chocolates diminished rapidly.

This simple story illustrates one of the great challenges in the field of nutrition. In our quest for quantity, we are constantly compromising the quality of the food we eat. In doing so, we allow ourselves to consume a lesser product, the copious consumption of which only gives the illusion that we are well-nourished.

I learned about this fact from an exhibit in the MinGei Museum in Balboa Park, San Diego


RFF #107– John Huyler was a master marketer

It is believed that part of John Huyler’s success can be attributed to the fact that he was a master marketer.

In the 1870s he invented the concept of pulling saltwater taffy in his window to draw customers in.

Additionally, he was the first person to blow the mouthwatering scent of his candy out onto the street using a reversed fan. I’m certain we can all relate to what a genius idea this was…remember the last time you walked by a Cinnabon?…I think you know what I’m talking about.

I learned about this fact from: The MinGei Museum, Balboa Park, San Diego

RFF#106 – John Huyler was the first confectioner in the US to employ large scale advertising to market his products

In 1909 John Huyler—the candy-man behind one of the largest confectionery companies at the turn of the century—created postcards that featured intriguing facts juxtaposed with well-known landmarks, as a means to educate his customers about the pure ingredients used in his chocolates.

I learned about this fact from the MinGei Museum located in San Diego’s Balboa Park. “MinGei” literally means “everyone’s art” and is a concept created by Japanese philosopher Soetsu Yangai to celebrate the beauty in everyday utilitarian objects made by unnamed artists. The images seen on product packaging or in product advertising are often works of art that exemplify “MinGei”. Thus, fittingly there was a special exhibit in Spring 2014 showcasing the artwork associated with Huyler’s Chocolates over a century ago.

Because Huyler was such an interesting fellow, this will be the first of a set of three “Huyler” themed posts. Stayed tuned!