Goldenberg's Peanut Chews are back.
Not that they ever really left, but some candy lovers certainly thought the chocolate and peanut candy brand had disappeared, judging by postings on various blogs about the sweet stuff.
Now the company that bought Goldenberg Candy Co. in 2003 is going all out to raise its profile in the land of cheesesteaks, Tastykakes, and other guilty pleasures.
Just Born Inc., which had dreams of taking Peanut Chews national, has decided to retrench and remind customers in its core Mid-Atlantic market of the treat that has been made in Philadelphia since 1917.
Reconnecting with its Philadelphia origins gained urgency when David Yale joined Bethlehem-based Just Born as president and chief operating officer in February.
The food-industry veteran remembered the Goldenberg brand from his youth growing up in New York, and he wanted a new direction for it, said Bob Zender, marketing manager for Goldenberg's Peanut Chews.
Several years ago, Just Born had changed the candy wrapper to emphasize the words Peanut Chews and all but remove the Goldenberg family name. The packaging was switched to red for the traditional dark chocolate version and blue for the milk chocolate one.
Instead of chewing up the competition nationally, Just Born found that customers in Peanut Chews' core market from Baltimore to New York had "lost track" of a product that many of them simply called Goldenberg's, Zender said.
Yale felt there was "a lot of brand equity in the Goldenberg's name," Zender said.
That is why Goldenberg's is once again prominent on the redesigned candy wrapper that brings back a red-and-dark-brown color scheme similar to the one the product had had for decades. The new packaging by CAG Design Studio Inc., of Hackettstown, N.J., was introduced in November.
Just Born tested a retro-packaged version of Peanut Chews more than three years ago that has been sold alongside other vintage candies in Cracker Barrel restaurants and other retailers, Zender said. "That product did exceptionally," he said.
More consumer research, including focus groups, led the company to decide to emphasize its Philadelphia-ness. Even the UPC symbol on the wrapper is bordered by a line drawing of the city skyline and a Liberty Bell.
Just Born, the privately held maker of Peeps marshmallow confections and Mike and Ike jelly bean-like candies, does not release financial information. It would not provide a specific figure for the size of its workforce at the factory where Peanut Chews are made in the Holmesburg section of Philadelphia.
But it did say that the factory makes 525,000 candies per day using one shift. That works out to more than 131 million sweets each year.
Almost always a word-of-mouth product, Goldenberg's Peanut Chews is getting a regional advertising campaign. Developed by the Old City advertising agency Machinery, it will feature television commercials (including one with former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski), billboards, and wrapped SEPTA buses.
In addition, Goldenberg's Peanut Chews recently signed sponsorship deals with the Philadelphia Union soccer team and the 2012 Mummers Parade.
"It's all designed to align ourselves with the city we grew up in," Zender said.