Pittsburgh’s Clark Bar to return to candy shelves nationwide, rescued from extinction

Marissa Wiesenbach, North Campus Editor

The Clark Bar – America’s first successful ‘combination’ candy – has returned home to Pennsylvania after facing extinction.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Boyer Candy Company purchased the brand rights, recipe, and equipment to the Clark Bar in September 2018, after production of the candy was halted.

The company – based in Altoona, Pennsylvania – plans to have Clark Bars back on candy shelves this upcoming summer.

After the New England Confectionary Company (NECCO) closed its operations plant in Massachusetts, Anthony Forgione II – Owner and President of the Boyer Candy Company – purchased the brand rights, recipe, and equipment to Clark Bar in September 2018, and plans to market the product on candy shelves this upcoming summer.

Originating in North Side of Pittsburgh, the Clark Bar is a candy bar consisting of a crispy peanut butter and a spun taffy (originally caramel) core all covered in a thin layer of milk chocolate. The chocolate confectionery is similar to the Butterfinger and Fifth Avenue bars.

Forgione – who’s company is best known for its marshmallow-filled cups called Mallo Cups – told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he is eager to produce and sell the Clark Bar – an iconic Pennsylvania candy. Until now, the candy bar had not been produced in Western Pennsylvania since 1999.

“We had an opportunity to bring it [the Clark Bar] back, and we’re really thrilled about it. This is a natural extension for us; we’re really excited. If this was an item from any other state, we probably wouldn’t have bothered,” Forgione told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

He said, “Being in our backyard and knowing how devoted Clark Bar fans are, we didn’t want to let the opportunity pass by.”

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the financial deal took a year and a half to complete. Prior, Forgione’s father –  Anthony Forgione Sr. –  attempted to purchase the brand approximately 27 years ago but was unsuccessful.

Initially after the purchase in September, Forgione planned to have Clark Bars back on the shelves in January 2019. However, their return has been delayed until Summer 2019, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The delay in production is due to an unforeseen challenge that Forgione and his company are working to overcome.

“Turns out the formulas for making the chocolate-covered crunchy peanut butter bar weren’t as detailed as we were told,” said Forgione to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

He said, “A list of ingredients came with the deal, but step-by-step instructions on how to cook them up weren’t as specific as we would have wanted.”

At this time, the Boyer Candy Company has managed to get the flavor and consistency of the Clark Bar right with the help of retired Clark Bar employees from Pittsburgh, where the candy was initially created.

“They taste fantastic,” Forgione told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

However, the Clark Bars currently being produced are misshapen. Forgione told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Right now, they are coming out in the shape of hot dogs.”

Ultimately, buyers will have to wait until this summer to purchase the iconic Pittsburgh treat, as Forgione does not want to rush the recreation process. The company hopes to produce authentic, perfect batches of Clark Bars.

Forgione told TODAY Food, “We want to honor the brand. We want it to be the true Clark Bar.”

In a conversation with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Forgione said, “We’re not going to just pump product out. We saw how upset people were about the potential of this brand not existing in this country. It’s really what drove us to take a stand and bring it back. No candy bar should go out of production on its 101st birthday.”

In the meantime, Forgione is using the company’s abundance of chocolatey mistakes to produce a new type of candy he is calling Clark Cups.

“We’re grinding up those [misshapen] Clark Bars and mixing them up in peanut butter. So, it’s like a crunchy peanut butter cup,” Forgione told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

According to Forgione, the candy company placed Clark Cups on the shelves of their outlet store located in the downtown district of Altoona, Pennsylvania, and they sold out in just one day.

As a result, Boyer began offering Clark Cups to Pennsylvania retailers in February. And in the upcoming months, the company hopes to market Clark Cups nationwide.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Clark Cups are packaged much like traditional Clark Bars. The new type of candy is packaged in the traditional red wrappers that Clark Bars are known for. In addition, the words, “Born in the Burgh” are stamped on the back.

“It probably won’t help our sales in Philly, but we thought it was important” to honor the candy’s deep Pittsburgh roots, Forgione said when speaking about the slogan.

The Clark Bar –  created by Irish-born candy salesman David L. Clark – originated in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Introduced in 1917, the crispy confectionery was manufactured by the D.L. Clark Company and quickly become a nationwide success.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the company’s headquarters was located on Martindale Street in Pittsburgh’s North Side. There, the plant grew into one of the largest candy manufacturers in the country, as employees worked tirelessly to produce the chocolate-and-peanut-butter flavored treats packaged in red-and-blue wrappers.

After producing billions of candy bars, the factory making Clark Bars closed in 1999, ending hometown production. After, the New England Confectionary Company purchased the Clark Bar at a Pittsburgh bankruptcy auction and began producing the candy beyond state lines.

Popular amongst Pittsburghers and eventually those nationwide, Clark Bars were one of the very first candies to use an approach that allowed a thin milk chocolate shell to surround a non-chocolate filling.

“Clark Bar and Mallo Cup in Pennsylvania in the 1940’s and 50’s were like fighting siblings,” Forgione told TODAY Food after his company purchased the brand rights, recipe, and equipment to produce Clark Bars.

Today, Clark Bars are still quite popular amongst Pennsylvanians – just someone needs to make them.

Ultimately, Boyer Candy Company’s plan to continue the production is good news for Clark Bar fans. Forgione told TODAY Food, “I think you’re gonna see a second act from this candy bar that’s going to surprise people.”