Stacey Hannon introduced Jeremy and Liz Gruber, who are personal friends.  Liz graduated from JHS in 1998. She loves to learn and holds degrees in history, teaching, and a Masters in Library Science from JCC, Fredonia State and UB.  In addition to owning Peterson’s Candies she is Head of Libraries at Fredonia Central School and mother to son, Jonah. Jeremy is also a local guy who graduated from Panama and has a degree in accounting from the University of Dayton. In 2007 Jeremy returned to Jamestown and the two met and they were married in 2011.
 
Liz spoke first, about how she met the last owners of Peterson’s Candies, Chris and Steve Frankson, through the Prendergast Library where Liz was a librarian. She felt an immediate connection. They were so community minded and so hard working. Plus, Steve was a toy collector as is Liz.
 
A couple of years ago Chris approached Liz when she was director of the library in Busti, saying that they were selling their business, and would Liz and Jeremy be interested? At that time they declined, since they had their hands full with their family and jobs.
 
A year or so passed, and Liz saw Chris, who mentioned that the store was still for sale. This time, Jeremy and Liz really considered it, and prayed about it and decided to make a bid. Jeremy quit his job. So, Liz became a Mom, a librarian and a part-time candy store owner and Jeremy became a full time candy store owner. They have owned the business happily for a year and a half since December 2018.
 
Jeremy took up the story here. He remembers that in May of 2018, they drove by the store, with its candy canes out front, and he commented that, if he were to own a business, the Corn Crib would be the kind of business he would want to run. So they began to study the finances of it, and in October they put in the bid, and the sale closed in December 2018.  
 
History
The Corn Crib opened in 1931 at the corner of 3rd and Pine in Jamestown. They sold mainly nuts and popcorn.
 
Emil Peterson started working there when he was 19. When he returned from WWII, Emil purchased it from the original owner. He wanted to make candy and so added candy when he became the owner. Liz and Jeremy showed some wonderful photos from the Jamestown location. Many people who went to Jamestown High School remember going to get candy and popcorn.
 
Liz talked about some of the products: the number one seller for Father’s Day is the Beetle candies (like a turtle, but that name is copyrighted). It is caramel, locally roasted pecans and milk or dark chocolate.  Another favorite is Reception Wafers, one of the oldest and most trusted recipes.
 
Emil grew the business by adding candy and building a second location in the 1950’s in Busti, which was originally called the “summer cottage”. Early ads show that there were specials only at the Busti store, to encourage people to make the trip. He put the candy canes outside the store which have become its trademark.
 
The candy canes are all made in the shop. It is part of the Heritage collection. The rollers used in the process are wooden, and are probably 100 years old.
 
In the late 60’s the building in Jamestown was falling in disrepair. It was torn down as a part of urban renewal about the same time as Brooklyn Square. Between 1972-1973 the business was moved to Busti. Many of the trappings of the original store were incorporated in Busti, including the sign and the pendants.
 
Winston Frankson purchased the business in 1976 when Emil Peterson retired. He was Master Candy Maker for Betty Dixon Candies, but wanted to become an owner. When he retired in 1990, he sold the business to his son, Steve Frankson and his wife Chris.
 
When Liz and Jeremy bought the business, Chris agreed to teach them about using the molds and Winston also mentored them, because Steve passed away. Winston continues to do so today.
 
Winston built an addition to the building with a cooling room and cooling tunnel, speeding the production process. So, they still molded by hand, but the cooling was faster.  
 
Chocolate has to be tempered. It is heated, then cooled, then heated again so there are no white specks and the chocolate has the shiny glean. Chris and Steve bought a pump for the mold, further speeding the process.
 
There is a story about the closing date in December. The day the business closed is Liz’s grandfather’s birthday. He was a toy collector of trains just as Steve was and had a real sweet tooth. So it was fitting that the closing should be on his birthday.
 
Liz and Jeremy hope to make their mark on the business by retaining the tradition of handmade candy, but modernizing sales and marketing where they can. There is room for growth electronically. They have a very active FaceBook page. Last year the web page was updated, providing on-line purchases. So they were able to provide chocolate over Easter by shipping it. This has been so important during the shutdown.
 
FLASH Until June 17, you can order Father's Day candy through their website for pick up on June 19 or 20!
 
Now that they are feeling confident in their production, they are also looking to expand candy sales at other shops, such as stocking it in flower shops.
 
Q: What percent of sales is chocolate? They estimate about 80%. It’s important to realize that 95% of the products are made locally.
 
Q: Why do Germans and Swiss have such a toehold in the milk chocolate market? Their chocolate has more cream, so it does taste different. American milk chocolate recipes are a little more bitter.  It is intentionally mixed to have a “bite”. German and Swiss chocolate companies are now owned by large conglomerates and can afford advertising and marketing.
 
We are all looking forward to the day when we can stop by, peruse the assortment, try a sample and buy a bunch!
 
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