Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sweet Memories of St. Paul

When my mother left the Minnesota farm of her childhood in 1944, she worked at Trudeau Candies, Inc., in St. Paul. Doris moved in with a maternal aunt, Stella (Berge) Schuster, on Stryker Avenue. The very first job Doris had in the city was at a factory that made rugs out of felt. The factory was very dirty, and fuzz flew in the air everywhere, so she could not help but breathe it in. She worried about the safety of working there. It was wartime, and there were many jobs to be had. Aunt Stella, a nurse, went down to the factory to take a look at the conditions and agreed that Doris should not continue making rugs. Instead, Stella helped her niece find a job with the Trudeau Candy factory; it was a job Doris loved.

Trudeau's SevenUp Bar:  "Seven Delicious Varieties in One Bar"

Image: The Candy Wrapper Museum

"Contains crunchy whole Brazil nuts; rich milk caramele; luscious maple walnut delights; tempting chocolate pudding; delicious fig marmalade; triple vanilla creame; thickly coated with richly flavored vanilla chocolate"

In 1944, the owner of the candy company was the elderly Oscar G. Trudeau. There were other businesses in the same building, and in the next room a company made ration bars for the U. S. Army. Trudeau, whom Doris remembers as the "old Grandpa," was fond of her, and he even sent Doris a Christmas card after she moved to California.

The Seven Up bar had seven different sections, each containing a different filling, completely covered by a chocolate coating. At Trudeau's, Doris's main job was working upstairs on the crisp, which was a hard candy containing nuts that formed one of the seven sections of flavors in the bar. She stood at a small table and pounded the crisp into small pieces. Once in awhile, she had to work downstairs on the belt, where the seven-sectioned bars were smeared with chocolate by hand before being wrapped. She does not recall having to wear any special clothing: aprons, hats, or even hair nets while working.

Doris Johnson, a few years after her stint at Trudeau Candies.  West coast factories and canneries had more safety and cleanliness regulations than Doris had experienced in St. Paul.  The Heinz factory in Richmond, California required workers to wear this uniform with the "funny" hat/hairnet.

I asked my mother if she ever got to take home samples, and the answer was "No." But, no really expected it back then. Employees could buy candy bars at regular prices. It was wartime, and that may have had a lot to do with the lack of employee discounts on the popular chocolate merchandise.

Eddie, who was the candy maker at Trudeau's in 1944/45, often sought help from Doris with various tasks. She had to take his place one time and melt the chocolate all on her own, continually stuffing blocks of chocolate into the melting pan. Eddie liked to experiment with making different types of candy; he hoped to eventually open his own store. He even asked Doris to go into business with him, but she was too shy to take him up on it, and after only six months of working at Trudeau's, she left her "sweet" job to follow relatives to California.

Memories of the Seven Up bar attest to its popularity and nostalgic value: [1]

"It was like a box of chocolates in a bar" - Patrick

"Locals with sweet teeth often pine for Minnesota's great lost candy [the Seven Up bar]" - Denice

"It was my favorite candy memory" - Mark

"Finally someone remembers the 7 Up bar!" - James

"Like everyone else, I wish it would come back!" - td

"I got them at Bartells in downtown Seattle. . .I really want one." - Robert

"I would save my little change and would even look for pennies so I could get one every week." - Marie

In 1951, Pearson Candy, a Minneapolis-based company founded by P. Edward Pearson in 1909, purchased the Trudeau Candy Company of Saint Paul, known for its famed Seven-Up Bar. This acquisition also brought the Mint Pattie to the Pearson line.[2]

In spite of the Seven-Up bar's popularity, production eventually ceased:

"The [Seven Up] bar came out in the 1930s, before the 7-Up Bottling Company began production of its soft drink - so the Trudeau Candy Company owned the trademark rights to the name. Eventually the 7-Up Bottling Company bought the bar and retired it, so they had exclusive use of the name no matter how it was spelled - Seven Up or 7-Up." [3]

[1] I Can Remember When

[2] Pearson's

[3] Neatorama, "10 Candy Bars You'll Never Eat"


Laura said...

What a lovely post - I really enjoyed it! And the Seven-Up sounds wonderful, too bad they don't still make it.

Chery said...

Thank you, Laura. I know the SevenUp bar was really quite good, but I barely remember sampling it myself. For all those nostalgic yearnings,absence always makes the heart grow fonder, doesn't it?

sue klein said...

Thank you for the bit of nostalgia. Oscar Trudeau was my great-uncle, brother to my grandfather David Trudeau. I enjoyed 7-up bars also as a child, but company had been sold by then. But the candy-bar was just a nickle then.