In about 1914 and seeking new opportunity out west, a 27 year old William Howard Wertz followed his sister Grace Olivia Wertz to Midland, South Dakota. She moved to begin a new life as a teacher after leaving the family home in Muhlenberg Twp., PA, and graduating from Kutztown Normal School, now Kutztown University. Grace left for Puerto Rico after a year. William stayed and managed the J.C. Russel Co. General Store in Midland in 1915. William was soon joined by his girlfriend Nora Wise from Amityville, PA, and they were married in Philip, South Dakota in 1917. Soon thereafter, the young couple moved to the town of Spencer in Boyd County, Nebraska, where William became proprietor of The Baumann Inc., specializing in ladies apparel. They had children Mary Ellen in 1920 and William, Jr. in 1924. The young family was happy during the 1920’s in Spencer until the Great Depression hit in 1930.
In 1930, William Howard Wertz made the decision to move his family back to the family homestead in Muhlenberg Twp., PA. He planned to start over after the Great Depression cost him his job in mercantile. A chance stop for refreshment in Illinois at a confectionary called the Karmelkorn Shop changed his life. He learned the business was being franchised, and upon his return home, applied for, and was granted, a Karmelkorn Shop franchise in downtown, Lebanon, PA.
In December of 1931 the doors to the Karmelkorn Shop opened for business. William had to place advertisements in local papers for simple ingredients like sugar, but the business thrived. As the years passed the second generation, son William, Jr., and son in law L. Saylor Zimmerman, Jr., joined the business with William Howard Wertz at the helm until William Howard passed away in 1960.
In 1960 the business continued as a partnership until William, Jr. bought out L. Saylor Zimmerman, Jr. and became sole proprietor with his wife Josephine Seiger Wertz. In 1971 the name of the business was changed from The Karmelkorn Shop to Wertz Candies, Inc.
Come 1981 and the third generation joined the business when William Jr.’s son, Richard Alan, came on board to manage a second store location in the hamlet of Brickerville in northern Lancaster County. Daughter Jean Louise joined the business in 1984 as a coater and resident chocolate artist. When William, Jr., retired in 1986 his four children (William Howard, Jean Louise, Richard Alan, and Charles Wellington) bought the business from him and Josephine. Oldest son, William Howard, became President after leaving the H.B. Reese Candy Company, Richard Alan became Vice President, Jean Louise became Secretary, while youngest son Charles Wellington worked part time and was a silent partner officially serving as Treasurer. Today the store is owned by William, Richard and Charles as Jean left the company in 2008.
The 1990’s saw the development of an internet site (www.wertzcandies.com) that has effectively become our third location. Throughout more than 8 decades many things have changed but not our commitment to quality and excellence of product and service.