Bryan, Ohio – You won't see any Oompa Loompas, but watching Dum Dum Pops fall from the ceiling is just as good on the Spangler Candy Co. factory tour.
For $5, the Bryan, Ohio, company provides a glimpse into making Dum Dums, Saf-T-Pops, Circus Peanuts, candy canes and more. To get to the trolley that will take you through the nonproduction side of its operations, you first must enter the company's store and museum.
A highlight while browsing there: all the Dum Dums you can eat. Containers of Dum Dums provide a sampling of flavors you might not normally pick – Buttered Popcorn, Cotton Candy, Mango and Pink Lemonade, along with its newest flavors of Banana Split and Strawberry Shortcake. The company makes 16 flavors, along with the Mystery Flavor. Ask about that on the tour.
The company has a Fort Wayne connection. In 2007, it sold its chocolate business to Key III Candies, 4211 Earth Drive. While waiting for the tour to begin, look through the history of the company in cases and wall displays. Now in its fourth generation of family ownership, the museum features photos and products of the company's presence since 1906 in the town of nearly 10,000. Products from days gone by include Milk Chocolate Opera Cremes and unstriped natural peppermint candy canes.
You can also see a dress made out of Grape Dum Dum wrappers to rival a “Project Runway” designer challenge and beaded candy canes made by fellow Bryan company, Ohio Art, home of the Etch A Sketch.
Browse through the store at Dum Dum-flavored candles and lip gloss, single-flavor boxes of Dum Dums, T-shirts and more.
For the children – or your child at heart – stick your head and arms through the Dum Dum Drum Man, the company's mascot, for a picture op. You don't need to load up on candy then because you'll come back through at the end of the tour. And just because it's summer, it doesn't mean you can't have candy canes. Spangler makes them year round.
When it's time to board the trolley, don a hair net. You won't see workers making candy live – videos show that – but you'll watch the packaging process while surrounded by tons of sweets. The company makes 10 million Dum Dums a day. Here are some highlights:
• Discover what the company originally made. It didn't start making candy until 1911, and it wasn't until 1953 that founder Arthur Spangler bought the Dum Dum rights from Akron Candy Co.
• Watch a video as a worker takes a sugary glob to a stretching machine and adds the traditional red stripe to make candy canes.
• Learn what the flavor of marshmallow Circus Peanuts is. Hint: it's not orange or peanut. Tour guide's suggestion: microwave them for eight to 10 seconds to get that fresh-from-the-machine flavor. At the store, you can buy the newest strawberry-shaped flavor.
• Hear “The Dum Dum Song” from 1959.
• Find out the huge amounts of peanuts, corn syrup and sugar used during production and what other products it makes as a subcontractor.
• See wrapped Dum Dums raining down as a worker loads them into boxes. Bring a tissue because all the candy that falls to the floor will be sent to the landfill, and that's sure to bring a tear to a candyholic's eye.
• View pallets of candy waiting to go to 30 countries and all 50 states.
• Return to the museum and store, buy your favorite flavors and make your friends envy your endless supply of candy.