Heritage Businesses in WNY / Fowler’s
A beloved confectioner sticks with what works
The Fowler’s production line
Photos by kc kratt
100 River Rock Drive, Buffalo
How old: 108 years
Size: 5 locations throughout Western New York
Fowler’s has appeared many times in the pages of Spree, and deservedly so. In 2012, writer Nina Barone told readers about the company’s long history. It begins with founder Joseph A. Fowler’s return to Buffalo in 1910 to open a chocolate company, after having first visited the area as a vendor at the Pan-Am Expo nine years earlier.
Flash forward eighty years or so, and the family business is bought by Ted Marks, the company’s current CEO and the man responsible for the invention of Fowler’s signature Truffaloes, Buffalo-shaped truffles filled with raspberry and hazelnut ganache.
With five locations in addition to its factory on River Rock Drive, Fowler’s is a dominate confectioner in an otherwise noisy market, producing over 400,000 pounds of confectionery each year.
Three years ago, the purchase of an automatic molding depositor allowed the company to scale its candy bar production to create a better and more consistent product at a faster pace. But otherwise, Marks says, “Almost everything in our candy kitchen is done exactly the same way it has always been done. From cooking creams to producing items in small batches.” Which includes, of course, the making of a Buffalo favorite: sponge candy.
If you’re lucky enough to catch one of the company’s annual factory tours, one leg of the experience reveals a team of candy experts hard at work behind glass walls in a specially designed humidity-controlled kitchen. It’s the ideal environment for producing the temperamental but enticingly crisp molasses-flavored sponge that, once enrobed in glossy chocolate, becomes the candy we all know and love. Where many local chocolate makers have cut costs by shipping bulk sponge in from outside producers, Fowler’s chooses to use the expensive and manpower-heavy method necessary to execute the freshest high-standard sponge inhouse.
“So many of our recipes are original formulations from the early days of the company,” Marks says. “The team is so good at staying true to those. Those formulas are really what our business and our brand are built on.”
Other favorites include the aforementioned Truffaloes, sea salt caramels, and the company’s beloved almond butter crunch. But these favorites are no longer reserved just for visitors and Buffalo citizens. A growing e-commerce business has contributed to the company’s current success. Marks continues to invest in the streamlining and modernization of fowlerschocolates.com and the social media necessary to promote that side of the business.
Fowler’s factory tours take place in the fall of each year, usually on just one day in October, so mark your calendars and follow the company on social media if you want to remember to make time to see the inner workings of this exciting century-old company.