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The Warrell Corporation Inc.: Developing Confectionery Creations Since 1965
Lincoln Warrell, chairman of The Warrell Corporation Inc. (Warrell), isn’t afraid to ask questions. With a background in chemical engineering, entering the candy business wasn’t exactly part of Lincoln’s initial plan. “I had no prior experience, other than that I enjoyed candy,” Lincoln jokes. “My technical-minded friends would ask me what I was going to bring to the industry and my answer was simple: I’m not inhibited by prior knowledge. I think that’s one of my better traits. I like to question things and learn about how they’re made.”
Lincoln followed his creativity and curiosity by joining the original Pennsylvania Dutch Candies (Pennsylvania Dutch) company, which was established in 1957. Lincoln’s family purchased Pennsylvania Dutch in 1965, designating it under the Warrell name, while maintaining the nostalgic label on many products from signature butter-toasted peanuts to rich chocolate-covered almonds.
Keeping Tradition Alive
Lincoln now operates Warrell out of two locations in Pennsylvania, supplying more than 4,000 nationwide retail accounts with a focus on specialty candy and snack items. “We provide unique items to the small mom-and-pop country stores, gift shops, roadside stands and touristy areas,” details Lincoln. “We don’t compete with Hershey, Mars or Nestle because we go where they don’t. You also won’t find the Pennsylvania Dutch label in discount stores; we try to maintain some exclusivity.”
Operating in the smaller markets certainly has brought about some sweet success for Warrell. The company has diversified over the years through several acquisitions, beginning with Katharine Beecher Candies in 1974 and Melster Candies in 1982, which was later sold in 2004. In April 2009 Warrell also purchased Classic Caramel in York, Pa., adding another 48,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. In Camp Hill, Pa., Warrell also has 215,000 square feet.
“By manufacturing some of these old-fashioned brands, we’re able to rejuvenate the product and still keep the confections people know and love,” shares Lincoln. “We’ve worked with the owner of the resurrected Bonomo Turkish Taffy and brands like Slo Poke and Black Cow bars that sell for about $1.”
Warrell’s 65-page Pennsylvania Dutch confectionery catalogue, filled with more than 800 different products, has drawn attention from retailers all over the country. “We have the demand and capability to ship all over the U.S., but the majority of our business spans from the Rocky Mountains to the East Coast,” admits Lincoln. “We work with small shops so they have a go-to supplier, allowing them to make one purchase, whether it’s $100 or $500, and get any specialty item they desire.”
If a retailer cannot find a certain product or special candied creation, Lincoln is proud to say that the company will make it happen. “A big side of our business is private-label contract manufacturing,” Lincoln explains. “We’ve become a source for clients looking for specialty items, because we can make just about anything. We have a first-class operation here, and a fairly large development department who researches and perfects new products.” Warrell’s confectionery delights have even attracted attention as far away as South Africa. “We’ve been asked by a customer to do a private contract in one instance,” he continues.
Highly sought after candies and savory snacks start with the finest quality ingredients. “We try to buy locally when we can, but it really depends on where the best product is,” admits Lincoln. “Our cane sugar comes from Louisiana and beet sugar from the Midwest. We’ll source artisan chocolate from the U.S. and Belgium and almonds from California.”
Lincoln acknowledges that diversity is key. “One of our advantages is our product line is diversified; we can produce everything from hot-panned honey-roasted peanuts to chocolate-covered popcorn and sweet and salty dipped pretzels,” reveals Lincoln. “Our broad range of new and old-fashioned items is easily accessible through our detailed catalogue or online ordering.”
The most famous, addicting treat Warrell pumps out synonymous with the Pennsylvania Dutch brand is the company’s butter-toasted peanuts, but Warrell is also is well-known for butter mints, saltwater taffy, peanut butter pillows, peanut brittle, milk chocolate-covered fruit and old-fashioned sanded candy drops. For customers seeking a nostalgic treat, Warrell stocks Moon Pies, Turkish Taffy, Hex Pops and Wizard Sticks, among many other brands.
Warrell’s new Crave’mmm brand offers a sweet indulgence of chocolate fudge-covered pretzel pieces mixed with brittle and the company’s signature butter-toasted peanuts. For a sweet and spicy kick the Crave’mmm peanuts also come in Cajun seasoning.
After 48 years in the candy making industry, Lincoln is certainly happy he took an unusual path. “I’m going to continue to grow the business and try to sustain our annual 10 percent growth rate,” he says. “We’ll continue to remain active in the industry with the National Confectioners Association, the Pennsylvania Manufacturing Confectioners Association and Retail Confectioners International organizations. I also think our Pennsylvania Dutch brand, though traditional, has a lot of hope for the future in the specialty business.” The Warrell Corporation Inc. continues to craft the finest candied creations from both new and longtime recipes, making for a truly unique sweet experience.
For more information about The Warrell Corporation Inc., please visit: www.warrellcorp.com.