Aug 28, 2014
10:12 AMConnecticut Today
Hershey’s Connecticut Site Where Almond Joy Was Born to Be Auctioned
A new day may be dawning for one of Naugatuck’s most well-known properties.
For decades Naugatuck was home to the Peter Paul plant where Almond Joy candy bars were invented and then manufactured. The property where that plant once stood is currently owned by the Hershey's Company and will be sold via online auction on Sept. 25.
(The property is pictured above in an aerial shot courtesy of the real estate website Zillow)
The opening bid for the 36.20-acre site will be $2,225,000, and the auction will be managed by CBRE.
A press release for the auction states: “The former Hershey development site has a wide variety of potential uses. Permitted uses include retail, commercial and industrial. The site is situated between the Crosspointe Plaza Shopping Center to the west and Walmart to the east along Route 63, New Haven Road.”
While analysts see the potential sale of this property as good news for Naugatuck, it’s still a bit of a bittersweet moment for those who remember the plant in its sugar-filled glory days.
“It was one of the most iconic businesses in Naugatuck,” says Ronald Pugliese, CEO of Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation, a private board that works to promote the economy within Naugatuck. He adds that when the plant was closed it was a devastating blow not only to Naugatuck’s “economy but also to its psyche.”
(Right: a historic image of the Peter Paul plant courtesy of Bob's Blog News in Naugatuck)
For decades the plant had been a sweet-tooth fixture of the town and part of the industrial backbone of the region.
The Peter Paul Candy Manufacturing Co. was founded in New Haven in 1919. In 1920 the coconut-and chocolate-powered Mounds bar was introduced to the candy-consuming public. In 1922 the company moved its candy-making operations to Naugatuck.
In 1946, the more-nutty offspring of the Mounds bar, the Almond Joy was introduced. For decades these sister candy bars were the flagships of the company. Both are perhaps best remembered today for the 1980s commercial jingle “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't,” which advertised the nut-free Mounds bar, as well as the nut-centric Almond Joy.
In 1988 Hershey's purchased the company. However, both iconic sweets continued to be made in Naugatuck until 2007, when the company announced it was closing the plant and in the future the candy bars would be manufactured at a plan in Stuarts Draft, Va.
When the plant closed, the area lost 200 jobs and Naugatuck lost a great deal of tax revenue.
In the years since the Naugatuck plant closed, Pugliese, of the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation, has worked closely with the town in an effort to persuade and help Hershey’s sell the property.
“We’re extremely happy that this auction is going through,” he says.
“I think it’s a perfect location for a big box retail store—a Lowe’s or a Target, something along those lines.”
He adds this auction is a step in the right direction and his board is supporting similar efforts at other former industrial sites in town. “We’re taking one property after another and recycling it for something else.”