It was a year of bell bottoms, The Beatles breaking up, and Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix breaking on through to the other side while Joni Mitchell watched from the screen door as a big yellow taxi pulled away. Looking back at 1970, much of what has shaped our culture, our music, and our collective consciousness was going on swiftly and simultaneously. But as with any year, month, or even day, as monumental moments for our country and world were occurring, so were the more personal moments that make up what truly amounts to who we are, who we meet along the way, and the lives we live every day. And at Blair Candy, while we mourned the loss of Jimi and Janis and made promises to ourselves that we wouldn’t let them pave paradise and put up a parking lot, it was meeting Nomie and Bill that has made the bigger difference in our lives. And we’re happy that they have been as glad to be with Blair as we have been glad to count them among our family.
So who are Nomie and Bill, you may be asking? Two Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup loving members of the Blair Candy team. Two teammates that bring their best game to the field every day. Two teammates that have been have been playing Varsity for…40 years! The day after Nomie Gensamer graduated from high school in 1970 she began her position as Blair Candy’s bookkeeper. And 40 years later, we have some of the best kept books in the business! Needless to say, in that amount of time we’ve called on Nomie for a few other tasks as well, essentially everything but unloading trucks. And for that, we turn to Bill Yoder, who has worked with Blair for 40 years as well. What can we say? We have a pretty awesome place here. Come over to the Blair side…we have candy!
We get to work with Bill and Nomie every day, but chances are you haven’t met them before. So we asked them to share some sweet memories with us so we could share them with all of you. We’d love to hear how your own candy past compares to Bill’s and Nomie’s!
Bill Yoder – Blair Candy Warehouse Manager
While you might think it’s been all goody gumdrops that has kept Bill with Blair for so long, that’s not exactly the truth. In fact, Bill had a very rough start with us, dropping a box of Wrigley’s during his second day on the job, which bounced back hitting him in the face. Many would have likely walked away forever, not letting the warehouse door hit them on their way out! But Bill went to the hospital, received some stitches, and came right back to work. I’m not going to lie – I would have spent the rest of the day on the couch feeling sorry for myself. But it’s precisely this dedication from Bill that we have come to know, respect and appreciate through the years.
Bill remembers the days when a lot of candy arrived unwrapped. Boxes would arrive full of bubble gum and Jawbreakers, which store owners would scoop into tiny brown bags with their hands. Even a few of the candy bars were loose in the box. Baseball cards came packed with a stick of gum, and the Reese’s Cup, his and Nomie’s favorite, was a nickel per pack, with one in each wrapper. A nickel too steep? If you were saving your cents, you could grab a candy bar called Lunch Bar for just 3 cents apiece. And if you wanted to get the longest-lasting treats with your pennies, Dubble Bubble and Bazooka were popular picks. Long before piles of peach rings and gummy hot dogs, Bill was unpacking shoe string licorice and Swedish Fish. The most satisfying sweets on a stick were Tootsie Pops and Saf T Pops. Well…I guess even 40 years later some things haven’t changed. I have yet to see anyone turn down a piece of any of these candies! Bill included.
Nomie Gensamer – Blair Candy Bookkeeper
As the picture above illustrates, years surrounded by candy must do a body good – both Nomie and Bill look far too young to have worked anywhere for 40 years! Nomie’s youthful appearance might be attributed to her staple payday treat – a full box of candy bars to enjoy at home throughout the week. She does note, however, that box used to be just $9, and now runs $28, with smaller candy bars to boot. It is true that candy companies have reduced the size of much of their candy over the years to keep up with inflating prices, but we have to see the half glass full on that end – smaller candy is still candy! Apart from the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Nomie’s favorites include Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum and the gum that used to come with the Beatles Cards in the past. Isn’t it funny how we never forget the smells and tastes of our youth? I still get sent straight back to the 80s when I smell Love’s Baby Soft.
Nomie remembers a time when the phone never rang with questions of calories or peanut allergies. A time when the candy manufacturers sent samples for employees to try, something that no longer happens. A time when there was no such thing as Nostalgic Candy, for it was all just beginning with just a few handfuls of treats to choose from compared to the abundance of options today. And while digging through this candy bag of memories, Nomie mentions something that has not only helped our business grow, but also helped make each day a little tastier for everyone – candy has become a staple. What was once a luxury is now enjoyed by anyone who wishes to satisfy their sweet tooth, and that is a very good thing!
Thanks Bill and Nomie for the trip down memory lane. And thanks for all the hard work and heart you’ve invested in Blair Candy. We’re proud that this year marks Blair Candy turning 71, and that we’ve had the pleasure of working with you for 40 of those 71 years. We wouldn’t be who we are without you!