CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. – If you have ever bought a fundraiser candy bar from a youth football club, cheerleader squad or church group, it’s more than likely that bar was produced right here in Cheektowaga at Niagara Chocolates.
The candy makers have been churning out delectable treats for over 35 years right from their factory at 3500 Genesee Street, and on August 1st, what is billed as Swiss National Day, the company will be celebrating the grand re-opening of their newly remodeled candy store and commemorating their parent company, Chocolate Frey.
Chocolate Frey of Switzerland buys Niagara Chocolates brand
The giant Swiss chocolate and gum manufacturer bought SweetWorks and the Niagara Chocolates brand in 2014 from local owner and CEO Philip Terranova. The Niagara Chocolates branding changed to Niagara by Frey.
“Niagara made the final cut of about four [companies] and ultimately what [Frey] decided on was to make the North America headquarters for Chocolate Frey right here in Cheektowaga,” said Andy Ingham, Fundraising, Sales and Retail Manager for Niagara by Frey.
Chocolate Frey looked at the flexibility of the Cheektowaga plant and its ability to do smaller production runs than what they could accomplish in their larger Switzerland facility. That allows the company to import their Frey Chocolate line from Switzerland in bulk, package it here in Cheektowaga which cuts the factory to store shelf lead time by six to eight weeks.
The famous candy bars and other treats produced under the Niagara Chocolates brand are still manufactured right in our backyard. Mr. Ingham says everyone benefited with the purchase of SweetWorks by Chocolate Frey.
“We’re getting in finished goods and then making different packs sizes out of them and generating some more hours and more labor back in the plant as well,” added Mr. Ingham.
Between 200 and 250 workers are employed by the company locally during the peak season.
Peanut and tree nut free candies available
Chocolate Frey also kept open Mr. Terranova’s subsidiary company, Oak Leaf Confections in Toronto, Ontario. That plant produces gumballs, Sixlets, and foil balls in a variety of colors that are used for wedding candy buffets and other party favors. It is also a peanut and tree nut free facility.
“Around Halloween time it’s something safe you can pass out to the kids. You come in and grab some Sixlets and some other candies and it’s just a great option to have,” continued Mr. Ingham.
Candies from the company’s three divisions, Chocolate Frey in Switzerland, Niagara by Frey and Oak Leaf, are available for purchase under one roof at the company’s candy store in the front of the building at 3500 Genesee Street.
“[Customers] can make their own gift boxed chocolates like you’re used to seeing in high-end chocolate shops. We have ready boxed of things people in the area are familiar with; our peanut clusters and raisin clusters, chocolate covered pretzels and our sponge candy,” said Bernadette Safy, Assistant Retail Manager at Niagara by Frey.
The company is inviting everyone to stop by the candy store’s grand reopening on August 1st to explore the offerings of the new store and to sample the company’s product line. Ms. Safy reminds the public that the candy store is open year round to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.
“People want Niagara Chocolates and that’s all they want, you’re not going to change their mind. They want that a Niagara bar, they know it, they’ve done [the fundraising] as children, they see their children or grandchildren now selling it and that loyalty to the brand has translated into long term employees as well,” added Mr. Safy.