In 1841 Pittsburgher Phillip Reymer (then 22) and R.J. Anderson opened a candy shop, "Reymer & Anderson" at 39 Wood Street where they produced and sold "dipped candies." Reymer & Anderson was the first confectioner in Pittsburgh. Within a few years, Reymer bought-out his partner and was joined by his brothers, Jacob and Harmar. The company was re-christened "Reymer & Brothers." The devastating American Civil War, in the first half of the 1860's, was very good for Reymer's business. It became customary for area families to ship tins of Reymer's candies to their sons, brothers and husbands who were off fighting the war. Soon, customers across the nation were shipping Reymer's tins, filled with "That Good Pittsburgh Candy," to their favorite soldiers. Such an increase in sales required expanded production space and more and more stores (some company-owned, some wholesale accounts). Just after the Turn-of-the-Century, it was estimated that Reymers had 5,000 retail accounts in the Greater Pittsburgh area. They were also selling candy across the country, in Canada and in Europe. The business expanded to sell dried fruits, nuts, spices, pastries, cookies and crackers, even cigars. One of Reymers inventions was the candy Easter Egg, soon to become a classic. And the company opened full-service tea rooms which, although unprofitable, enhanced the impression of Reymer's quality and refinement.
Reymers suffered an annual seasonal slowdown; the heat of the summer would melt its chocolates in-transit. Seeking a summertime business opportunity, Reymers purchased a carbonated soft drink called "Lemon Blennd" which (in later years) represented up to 70% of the company's business.
Competition in the early Twentieth Century was not easy for Reymers. "Candy bars," first developed in England in the 1860's, had become popular in the United States. They were also less labor-intensive and cheaper to produce. Big companies mass-produced popular, inexpensive confections like the Clark Bar and Oh Henry! bar. Laboriously hand-dipped candies—in fancy, decorated tins—became a "special indulgence," not a quotidian treat. By 1956, the company was out of business. One of the Reymer buildings still exists, though the City of Pittsburgh recently has destroyed others, despite public protest (Pittsburgh officials seem to have little concern for saving its Pre-War historic architecture).
The metal candy box, shown above, was made around 1910. It's decorated with a lovely Art Nouveau decoration and would have held an assortment of "That Good Pittsburgh Candy." Click on the photo above to learn more about it.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248