Wisconsin Candy Plant To Close

New England Confectionery, which owns the Stark Candy plant that makes Valentine conversation hearts, says the factory will close, eliminating 137 jobs.

PEWAUKEE, Wis. (AP) β€” A Stark Candy Co. plant that makes candy Valentine hearts and Candy Raisins will close, eliminating 137 jobs.
New England Confectionery Co., which owns the plant, told the state this week that it will close the Pewaukee plant May 30.
The so-called conversation hearts bearing messages such as ''Be Mine'' and ''Only You'' will continue to be made at NECCO's newer, larger plant in Revere, Mass., said Bill Leva, the company's vice president of operations.
NECCO has been under increased pressure from overseas makers of sugar candies, he said. Small plants like the one in Pewaukee are ''just getting knocked out,'' Leva said.
Stark started in Milwaukee in 1939 and moved to Pewaukee in 1960. NECCO bought the company in 1988.
The Pewaukee plant will be sold, Leva said. Some workers may be offered jobs in Massachusetts, where NECCO employs about 500 people.
It is not clear what will happen with production of Candy Raisins, which are translucent, gum drop-like candies popular in the Milwaukee area. Stark trademarked the candies in 1976.
NECCO will probably transfer production of the candies it describes on its Web site as ''an acquired taste'' to Massachusetts, Leva said. But he could not guarantee it.
''That decision has not been finalized,'' he said Thursday.
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