One of Provo’s Oldest Businesses is the Startup Candy Company.
The history of Provo‘s Startup Candy Company started in England. William Daw Startup helped his father make “cough candy” in the basement of the family’s retail store in Manchester.
When 23-year-old William immigrated to America in 1869, he brought his candy-making skills with him. He married Hagar Hick and the couple moved to Provo in 1874 where they opened a small candy factory and store on Center Street where the Utah County Convention Center now stands.
Unfortunately, William died in 1878. Hagar continued making candy on a small scale, and she taught her four sons candy-making skills. This talent benefited George Startup in 1895 when he lost his job during a serious depression. He used his savings to rent a small store and he opened a candy shop. George’s brothers, Walter and William, joined him in a partnership. They produced several types of unique candy, some of which are still available today.
In 1900, the brothers began construction of the large factory complex that still stands on 600 South and 100 West. It contained not only candy making facilities, but a box plant and a printing room where the company made some of its own highly decorated containers.
Startup Candy Company reached its zenith in the 1920s when it employed 175 workers and 15 salesmen. Its sales throughout the united States and a few foreign countries totaled about a half million dollars. Then the Great Depression Struck in the 1930s, and the company struggled to survive when the bank took possession of the factory. Walker bought out his brothers and bought back the box plant where he continued to manufacture candy.
World War II presented another problem: sugar became almost impossible to purchase. This forced the company to discontinue most of its candies. After the war, Harry Startup revitalized the business, and his son, Jon, later succeeded him. Customers could purchase a wide variety of suckers in addition to Opera Bars and magnolias, sold in copies of the original boxes.
This is plaque #38 in the Series of Events from Provo’s History.