For the last several years, this blog, at Easter time, has been urging y’all to buy the local candies, such as Merlin’s chocolate bunnies and Elmer’s products. This year my message has been diminished. Without any fanfare, Merlin’s assets were quietly sold to the R.M. Palmer Company of West Reading, Pennsylvania, earlier this year.
An announcement carried in an industry newsletter, "Professional Candy Buyer," said that the Merlin’s brand, as manufactured by Palmer’s, will appear again for the 2012 Easter season. Apparently the local factory isn’t even open. Calls to there have been answered by a recorded message saying that the number has been disconnected …
Merlin’s made by anyone else from anywhere else is just not the same without that "Made in New Orleans" tag. The local company opened in 1947 on Magazine Street. Several years ago it relocated to Elmwood, a move that was seen as an investment in growth. Last Christmas the brand even manufactured chocolate Santas, a sign of diversification. Something happened that I suspect is nothing more than another example of the big national manufacturer buying out the small regional guy. We’ve seen that happen with many products, including beers, soft drinks, potato chips and sliced bread.
At least we still have Elmer’s, which moved from New Orleans to Ponchatoula but is still in the local economy. The company makes three exquisite Easter candies all using the pecan: the Gold Brick, made with chocolate and speckled with the nut; the heavenly Heavenly Hash, with a slice on top of the chocolate coating; and the nougat-filled Pecan Egg.
My message this Easter is to fill your baskets with Elmer’s as a civic duty. And if you want to leave out chocolate rabbits, that’s okay, because the local bunny has skipped town.
Krewe: The Early New Orleans Carnival – Comus to Zulu by Errol Laborde is available at all area bookstores. Books can also be ordered via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or (504) 895-2266.
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