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Bogdon

Bogdon Reception Stick

Bogdon

Candymaker Walter Bogdon created the delightful novelty confection known as the Bogdon Reception Stick. Born in Krakow, Poland in 1903, he emigrated to the United States with his parents when he was four years old. The family settled in Hutchinson, Kansas, where his father took a job at a local salt mine. Bogdon married and moved to Kansas City, Missouri just after graduating from high school. There he went to work for the Loose Wiles Biscuit Company in the confectionery department (Loose Wiles became the Sunshine Biscuit Company in 1946), and he worked his way up to plant manager.

Meanwhile Bogdon began to develop a love for the confectionary business, and soon he found the opportunity he was looking for. He bought a candy store called Sunny Jims in the booming mining town of Joplin, Missouri and moved his family there. The store had a prime location right on Main Street. Bogdon and his staff made all their candy carefully by hand in small batches. He used a large ventilation fan to push the wonderful candy aromas out into the street to draw shoppers into his store.

When World War II came to an end, Joplin lost some of its luster as the lead mining business tapered off. Bogdon decided to move his candy business to Kansas City. He opened a store in Fairway, a suburb of Kansas City, and his candies quickly became known as the finest in the area. He maintained the Joplin store temporarily, shipping fresh candy to the store by train daily from Kansas City. He began making specially designed candies for customers who wanted them for parties and weddings, even making them to match a certain color or décor. He was somewhat of a marketing maverick, actively pursuing high-profile customers, meeting seemingly impossible special requests, and always going the extra mile to make his clients happy. His wife, Ruth, also contributed her decorating skills to embellish candy with intricate designs and details.

In 1945, a customer asked Bogdon to make something special and unique for her wedding. Bogdon began brainstorming, looking over his candy kitchen in the back of the store. He saw the copper pots used to cook hard candy over open flames, and he looked at the vat of chocolate bubbling nearby. He thought, why not combine the two? He stirred up a batch of hard candy and hand rolled it into thin sticks. Holding each piece by its end, he dipped the sticks into the melted bittersweet chocolate. The result was a delicious, thin, crunchy, chocolate-covered treat. The Bogdon Reception Stick was born.

Bogdon’s client loved the candies, as did her wedding guests. Others began asking Bogdon to make the sticks for them, too. Demand became so great, that Bogdon was soon shipping Bogdon’s Reception Sticks all over the world. He registered the trademark for "Reception Sticks" and obtained a design patent for the product. With his son Jon, he designed and built special machinery to mass-produce and later, to individually wrap them. Eventually, he closed his candy stores to focus on the Reception Stick business. The candy was marketed as “great for dessert or just a snack,” and “tasty with coffee or tea.” Flavors expanded to include mint, lemon, orange and cinnamon, as well as Mint Double Dips. In 1965, Reception Sticks were named Outstanding Confection by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade.

Today Bogdon’s Reception Sticks are distributed all over the world through department stores, specialty stores and supermarkets including Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouses. They are also available through various gift and food catalogs and via The Bogdon’s Chocolates Web site. Bogdon Candy Co. remains a family-owned business, with the third generation of Bogdons involved in candymaking. Bogdon himself passed away in 1992 at the age of 89; his Reception Stick remains the only chocolate-dipped candy stick of its kind.

[September 2004]

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