With Halloween just around the corner, this is the perfect time to flip through candy-related trade catalogs. Today, with the mass production of products, we might not think about how things were made in the past. To make candy, ingredients needed to be grated, peeled, granulated, and cut. What machines performed that work? And how long did it take?
For a small glimpse into the candy making past, here is a trade catalog from 1874. The title is Descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue of Goods from Thomas Mills & Brother, located in Philadelphia, PA and established in 1864. This catalog gives us an idea of nineteenth century candy making machinery. It also includes images of moulds and patterns for candy.
The Improved Cocoa-Nut Grater, shown below, was guaranteed to “thoroughly granulate every particle of cocoa-nut placed in the hopper.” There were two models. No. 1 used hand power. It grated 60 nuts per hour. But Model No. 2 used steam power which meant it could grate much more–200 nuts per hour.
Candy might include almonds which meant the almonds had to be peeled. The Almond Peeler, shown below, was just the machine to help with that. It peeled forty pounds of almonds per hour.
Another ingredient might be eggs. Illustrated below is the Patent Egg and Sponge Beater. It was operated with a crank motion. This meant it could imitate the motion used by a person beating eggs by hand. The beater was made of stout wire, and both the can and beater were quickly removable. It had the ability to beat five dozen eggs in ten to fifteen minutes. The Patent Egg and Sponge Beater was advertised as a machine which could “be operated by any boy.”
Candy could also be a toy. Below is the side view of the Mills’ Excelsior Toy Machine. This machine made candy toys, or candy in the shape of fun toys, like animals, sailboats, rocking horses, and trains. It produced 33 different candy toys. Each candy toy had a flat base to stand upright.
The Mills’ Excelsior Clear Lemon Toy Machine produced clear, striped, or pulled candy of 33 different patterns. It manufactured five hundred to one thousand pounds of toys each day “varying from forty to forty-eight toys to the pound.”
Wondering what those 33 candy toy patterns might be? Take a look below for a few examples–a train, a rocking horse, a dog pulling on a boy’s shirt, a horse pulling a wagon with a dog sitting in the wagon, and more.
Descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue of Goods and several other catalogs from Thomas Mills & Brother are located in the Trade Literature Collection at the National Museum of American History Library.
Interested in more candy? Take a look at previous posts highlighting candy toys from this same catalog, candy recipes from 1907, and Easter candy.
We have a Thomas Brothers candy making machine that has the name in Boston on the side and the address of 1303 North 8th Street Philadelphia PA. It’s an excellent shape we would love to sell it so if you can give us any information about whether or not you would be interested in acquiring it to put it on display or if you have any Avenues to sell it. It came out of our old home place from the 17 hundreds
What a neat find! We don’t really collect objects in the Smithsonian Libraries (mostly literature). If you’d like to donate the object, you may want to contact the National Museum of American History: http://americanhistory.si.edu/about/contact-staff-member/813
If you are still looking to sell your candy making machine I’m very interested. I use antique candy equipment to make candy and preserve history. I’d really appreciate it if you could send me some photos and a price.
Thanks so much!
Suzanne, if your looking to sell the machine, I would be interested.
Hullo,I have a fine Thomas Mills improved verticle cutter and would like to send you images.
It is for sale. It is located in Victoria,Australia
What an interesting find! We in the Smithsonian Libraries do not purchase items like this for our collection. You might want to reach out to our colleagues at the National Museum of American History: http://americanhistory.si.edu/about/contact
I may be interested in purchasing your vertical cutter.
I would appreciate it if you could send me some photos and a price.
Thanks so much!
I have an original hand hammared copper pot stamped with Thomas mills stamp with a #5 on it. It is very well preserved with a rich patina. Has iron handles and iron rod in rim. It is apx. 30in wide and apx 18in tall or possibly latger. It’s stamp is clear. It is in perfect condition for the right collector of thomas mills&bros
I may be interested in purchasing your copper pot.
I would really appreciate it if you could send me some photos and price.
Thanks so much!
Has any one come across a candy machine stamped with Jewell & Co Waltham, Ma or in some way related to him?
Hi. I work for the Habitat for Humaity and came across a Thomas Mills & Bro. stamped item that i have no idea what it is. Can you help? Will send pictures.
If you’d like, you are welcome to send more information about your question to AskaLibrarian@si.edu
I have a Thomas Mills & Bros. Inc. candy cutter machine. It was my fathers from the 1940’s. It also has the initials PH. LA. PA. I’m assuming they represent Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Pennsylvania. Before the war, he and his brother ran a cafe, The Sugar Bowl, in Montrose, CO where they not only served food, but they made all their own confectioners. I’d like to find a good home for it. Someone who appreciates the antiquity of the machine and perhaps could refurbish & use it again. Any suggestions?
What a treasure! Our National Museum of American History Library staff suggest the following organizations:
National Museum of American History:
Museum of Food and Drink in Brooklyn, NY:
Hagley Museum and Library:
Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester NY: