The Forbes Candies dream began for Marion and Charlie Forbes back in High School. As a young, married couple, they were living with Marion's parents and working to make ends meet. Though Marion's family contributed as best they could, Charlie took a part-time job selling candy bars in a downtown Norfolk office building.
A SWEET IDEA
Charlie's interest in the candy business extended well beyond sales and he quickly found himself, along with Marion in the "candy creation" business. Marion's father, "B" Powell, was a plumber and pipe fitter by trade. He helped Charlie install a gas stove and a candy table; which is a steel table with hot and cold water running through it, into the basement of his home. After adding a couple of copper pots, the young couple was off and running with the first Forbes Candies kitchen right in their very own basement.
Their venture quickly became a "Labor of Love", as they were the sole proprietors of this new candy company. Marion and Charles cooked the candy, boxed it, and then sold the candy door to door, starting out with just peanut brittle and salt-water taffy.
Today's peanut brittle is made exactly as it was then: with sugar, corn syrup, peanuts, etc. and then blended into wonderful pieces of candy. Though the salt-water taffy formula has not changed, the processing certainly has. Charlie and Marion pulled the taffy to eating consistency by using nothing but a hook on the wall. Today this job is done with a pulling machine and air must be added to the raw taffy so it is chewable. The "cut and wrapping" machine has increased the volume of taffy from 64 pieces per minute up to 500 pieces per minute.
A PINCH OF SUGAR AND DETERMINATION
Due to their hard work and effort, Charlie and Marion were able to open their first retail outlet in Virginia Beach, Virginia in 1933. The peanut brittle and salt-water taffy equipment was moved from their basement to the new store. Unfortunately, within one month of the store opening, a hurricane wiped them out. Proving their love and perseverance for their craft, Marion and Charlie dug in and started again.
In 1939 they converted a two-car garage on Atlantic Ave. and 17th street into another retail store. They also expanded their candy making to include fudge, pecan logs, sea foam, jellies, etc.
Duty called during World War II, and Charlie went into the Merchant Marines, leaving Marion with the responsibility of raising three children and running the business. During this time, sugar and corn syrup were rationed, and running a candy business without these ingredients was very difficult. Ironically enough, popcorn ended up saving their taffy business. It turned out that Charlie and Marion owned the only popcorn machine in all of Virginia Beach. Because corn and oil could be easily obtained during the war, Marion had a bright idea on how to stay in business. Lines of people, up to a block long; waited their turn to buy a 5-cent bag of popcorn and Forbes Candies was kept in business.
THE DREAM CONTINUES
After the war, Charlie and Marion expanded from from it's two staple confections and placed candy kitchens in major department stores through out the East. which included creamy fudges and homemade chocolates. For Marion and Charles, the dream of Forbes Candies was just beginning to come true.
1970'S TO PRESENT
From miniature golf to wholesale distribution to coffee shops. Forbes Candies continues to be innovative in their thinking, all the while staying true to their confections and family roots...