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Paskesz Candy Company originated in Mako, Hungary in the early twentieth century, when Mr. Anshel Paskesz opened a store that sold hard candies and citrus fruits in order to support his growing family. His son Lazar continued in the food business, specializing in candy and chocolates. After opening a successful retail store in Bonyhad, Hungary, he moved to Nyireghaza, where he began selling wholesale products to other stores in the area.
Then came World War II and the Holocaust with all their horror and destruction.
After surviving himself but losing most of his family, Lazar Paskesz returned to Nyireghaza. He was appointed the head of the survivors of the Jewish community (rosh hakohol) and set about rebuilding his business. With determination – and more than a little chutzpah – he approached one of the best-known chocolate manufacturers in Austria and they produced “chocolate” at a time when the necessary ingredients were almost impossible to acquire. Due to his business acumen and charisma, and with the help of G-d, he was able to sell whatever was manufactured.
Lazar remarried in 1946 and started a new family. In the summer of 1954, he decided to come to the United States. He arrived in New York City with no means of supporting his family. After discussing his dilemma with his rabbi, Grand Rabbi Teitelbaum of Satmar, he was advised to continue selling confectionery.
Shortly after his arrival, he persuaded a cookie manufacturer to produce kosher cookies. This entailed driving the supervising rabbi (at that time, Rabbi Moshe Stern of Debrecen) as well as an interpreter, since neither Mr. Paskesz or Rabbi Stern spoke English, from New York to the plant in Philadelphia. Later that day, Lazar Paskesz drove home with the first kosher cookies produced under the Paskesz label. At that point, Paskesz labels were meticulously applied to every package by his family members!
Since then, kosher has been the foremost objective of Paskesz Candy Company.
Mr. Paskesz opened a small store in the East New York section of Brooklyn to sell his kosher products. A short time later, the store moved to Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He molded his own chocolates for a while but quickly shifted his focus to finding and selling new kosher products. Before long, he outgrew the store in Crown Heights. He moved to a warehouse in Borough Park, Brooklyn and continued expanding.
In the 1960s, in order to produce kosher chewing gum, Mr. Paskesz traveled to Denmark by ship to find a gum manufacturer willing to produce a kosher product. He returned three weeks later with a sample of a gold gum coin. The only stipulation was that the gum base had to be manufactured under rabbinical supervision in New Jersey, shipped to Europe, converted into chewing gum under rabbinical supervision, and shipped back to New York – an incredible feat for those times!
In the 1970s, his children joined the company and advanced it to the next level. With the additional help, more time and effort were allocated to product development. Paskesz Candy Company became the industry leader in the rapidly growing kosher market. In the early 1980s, the company moved to a larger warehouse in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn. Since the company was now importing a third of its product line, a full-time rabbi was retained for all overseas production. At this time, the Milk Munch candy bar was developed and imported – the first item of its kind in the Cholov Yisroel kosher market! More classic Paskesz items hit the kosher market in the 1990s – Sour Sticks, the first Pas Yisroel Melba Toast, a kosher line of Haribo gummies, and more recently, marshmallows and fruit snacks.
Paskesz Candy Company now runs a mechanized candy packaging department and a fleet of trucks. The company is still devoted to its founder’s dream of bringing kosher consumers new products of the highest quality and kosher standards – and is getting ready for the fourth generation to operate and further expand the company.