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 A Few Questions about Almond Joy, Mounds & Peter Paul


with Lisa Flaherty


great-granddaughter of one of Peter Paul's founders


1) Which sell better -- Almond Joy or Mounds?

I honestly have no clue if these days people "Feel like a nut" more than not or vice versa. I know more about the company from years ago, and can tell you Mounds used to be their best-selling candy bar, as well as one of the best-selling candy bars in the US.

2) Where does "Peter Paul" come from? Were those the first names of the two guys who started it?

Peter Paul Halajian first operated candy stores in Torrington and Naugatuck, Connecticut. Then his brother-in-law, Calvin K. Kazanjian, came up with the idea of not selling candy retail, but actually manufacturing their own candy and selling it wholesale. They found a circle of fellow Armenians, George Shamlian, Jacob Hagopian, Harry Kazanjian and Jacob Chouljian who all helped put up the initial money to start. They figured they couldn't get far without someone who knew how to make candy, so they brought in candy maker, Harry Tatigian.

Thus, "Peter Paul Candy Manufacturing Co. of Conn." was born. They used the name Peter Paul because not only was he a founder, but it was a name already connected with candy in the New Haven area.

*Harry Tatigian was my great-grandfather by blood, but unfortunately died in the early 1920's. An interesting footnote is that my great-grandmother fell in love again, and married George Shamlian (who's mentioned above as one of the founding fathers). George helped her raise the son she had had with Harry--my grandfather,John Tatigian. So it was George, who became "Dad" to my grandfather and, thus "Grandpa" to my Mom and Uncle. He was VP of the company until becoming its 3rd President, my grandfather joined the company in 1931 and became the 4th President in 1951 when his father retired.

3) Which formed first -- Peter Paul or Peter, Paul & Mary?

Actually, 17th Century Flemish painter, Peter Paul Rubens was first.

4) Where did the idea for the famous TV commercial "Almond Joy Got Nuts, Mounds Don't" with the racehorse jockeys come from?

I hear the racehorse jockeys were an idea from Joe, an Almond Joy assembly-line worker. No, really, I have no clue who/what agency came up with the brainstorm. But I do know it's not the first successful (Peter Paul) slogan. Mounds' original slogan was, "What a bar of candy for 5 cents!" After the war, when all candy prices had to be raised due to the out-of-control prices of the raw materials needed to make candy, the 5 cents slogan had to be changed, because it now cost 10 cents. So they began using "Indescribably Delicious" and "Honest to Goodness Chocolate."

5) Where did the brilliant idea come from to market two snacks in one vehicle -- they are set up as opposites (i.e. if you don't like Almond Joy, you'll like Mounds and visa versa) to appeal to every person?

Well, if someone doesn't like one, you might as well offer another so they don't go looking to another company. There were other examples of them creating a line of candy, and then altering indgredients just a bit for a different bar to cater to consumers varying tastes. In 1936, they came out with not only the "Dream Bar," which was milk chocolate, coconut and diced almonds, but at the same time created "Main Show," which was milk chocolate, coconut and peanut butter.

6) Mounds is red, Almond Joy is blue. How much thought (if any) went into the colors? (It seems to Kid Nougat that red is a nuttier color; he'd have switched them.)

Where was Kid Nougat when colors were deemed "nutty" and "non-nutty"? Apparently, his help was needed. Sure, Nougat, you're lots of help in hindsight... gee, thanks. Hey, wait a minute, why should I explain anything to a guy who calls himself "Kid Nougat"?!?

Mounds came first so it might have already claimed the red. Honestly, I'm not sure if it was always connected to the color red or if red came at the same time as Almond Joy got its blue. Orginally, Mounds was hand-dipped, and then hand-packaged in a foil wrapper. Then, when they got automated machines to shape and wrap it, it was wrapped in cellophane. Eventually, it was given the paper it's in now. Personally, I can't picture Mounds being in anything other than red.

7) Did both Mounds and Almond Joy come out at the same time? (Or was Mounds first, followed by Almond Joy, or vice-versa.)

Mounds was first, and was introduced in 1920. (George Shamlian researched and developed the Mounds' formula.) Mounds was created to replace their already-existing Coconut Cream Bar. (The coconut cream bar, peanut brittle, lolly pops, among others were the first Peter Paul candies).

They called it "Mounds" because of its shape. At first, there was only one per package. (And no, Mr. Nougat, they didn't originally call it "Mound" instead of "Mounds" as I'm sure that's your next question!). They changed the format to two pieces in 1929 so the consumer got more product of same quality for the same 5 cent price. There used to be a milk chocolate Mounds, too.

Then, in 1946, they decided to discontinue their "Dream Bar" and thus Almond Joy was developed and replaced it.

Back in the day, there was a candy trade magazine called, "Candy Industry" that reviewed and voted on the best quality candy each year. Mounds and Almond Joy were voted #1 and #2 for some time. Mounds greatest competition turned out to be Almond Joy.

8) With your great-grandfather being one of the co-founders of the company and your grandfather the Peter Paul President, were you pretty much forced to like the taste of coconut as a kid?

It was either eat coconut or starve.

No really, there wasn't pressure. Coconut certainly was the defining element of Peter Paul. From the outset, they felt they needed a distinct brand identity, and specialty, and although coconut was it, they still had other non-coconut creations like caramel candy, peanut butter, chcolate mints, cream mints, lollipops, gum, etc.

When I was small I loved the ones called "No Jellies" (since discontinued) which were a peanut butter and chocolate candy Peter Paul made in the 70s. Coconut wasn't a forced food, but you better believe that on Halloween, my mom ensured that we'd give out nothing but Peter Paul product. (Mounds, Almond Joys, Whistle Pops or Powerhouses.)

9) Do you think it's fair that Mounds cost the same as Almond Joy? (Almond Joy buyers are actually getting more for their money -- an extra almond -- than those who like Mounds.)

It's because the cost to produce the dark chocolate for the Mounds is equal to the cost of adding the nut to the milk chocolate Almond Joy. Okay, I'm lying, I actually just made that up. It sounded good, though, didn't it?

Hey, all I can say is why penalize people just because they feel like a nut?

10) If WASAW wanted to start our own candy company, what one piece of advice would you give us?

Stay out of the coconut business, it's taken. And if you don't believe me, just ask the company who tried to launch the (now defunct) chocolate-coconut candy called "Bounty" back in the late 80s-90s.

FYI, the Peter Paul plant that was built in Naugatuck, Connecticut, in 1922 still operates to this day as the sole manufacturerer of Mounds and Almond Joys... along with Hershey's Classic Caramels. (Hershey Foods now owns Peter Paul).

Editorial update: Sadly, it was announced on April 26, 2007 that the Naugatuck plant is closing - and production is being moved to a Hershey's plant in Virginia. LAme.

Thanks, WASAW, for being interested enough to come up with 10 questions! Nice to know there are always
Mounds and Almond Joy fans somewhere out there!!

-- Lisa


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