A Very Jolly Rancher

Jolly Ranchers first appeared in 1949, when Bill and Dorothy Harmsen founded the Jolly Rancher Company. They  originally only sold products to the kids living in the area around Denver, Colorado. Harmsen purposely gave his company the friendliest name imaginable so it was as appealing as possible to consumers. At the time, the Jolly Rancher Company sold chocolates and ice cream in addition to the hard candies, but clearly one was more popular than the others. Ice cream wasn’t very popular in the cold Colorado winter months, so Harmsen decided to focus on the hard candies because they were popular year round.

In 1951, the production of candy was moved from Golden, Colorado to Wheat Ridge, Colorado. In 1966, the Harmsens sold the Jolly Rancher Company to Beatrice Foods, and then in 1983, Beatrice Foods was sold to the Leaf Candy Company. The Hershey Company bought Jolly Ranchers in 1996, and production was moved to Mexico and Canada.

The Hershey Company expanded the range of Jolly Ranchers to include the same delicious flavors in lollipops, drinks, jelly beans, chewy candy, sour candy, gummy candies, and candy canes. You can even find Jolly Rancher pillows, shirts, and lip glosses. Jolly ranchers are now sold in supermarkets and convenience stores all over.

Jolly Ranchers originally came in apple, grape, and Fire Stix flavors. Lemon, cherry, and pineapple were added later on. Eventually blue raspberry was included in the possible flavor options. Today the official flavors are watermelon, apple, grape, cherry, and blue raspberry. There are also special Jolly Ranchers for Halloween, Christmas, Easter, and Valentine’s Day, to make every holiday jolly!

I remember in elementary school, kids would go crazy for Jolly Ranchers. The favorite flavor among my friends in particular was blue raspberry, but my personal favorite was always cherry. Although hard candy hasn’t always been popular among young children, Jolly Ranchers always seemed to be the exception to this rule. Teachers would often bribe students into volunteering and participating in class through the one and only Jolly Rancher hard candy.

Believe it or Not: One time, cops from New York City arrested a couple of guys for carrying what the cops thought to be crystal meth, when after testing, it was found that the “crystal meth” was actually blue raspberry Jolly Rancher candies.







4 thoughts on “A Very Jolly Rancher”

  1. Your inclusion of “Believe it or Not” fun facts are always interesting to read. It’s bizarre how such a common candy was mistaken for a hard drug. I also had no idea that the Hershey company was involved in the production of Jolly Ranchers.

  2. It’s really neat to get the background and in-depth information on some of my favorite candies as a kid, love the idea of this blog. The fun fact at the end was a nice touch!

  3. As a PA native, Hershey is a huge tourist attraction to the central part of the state. When I was in elementary school, we did the exact same thing! Jolly Ranchers were where it was at! Green apple and grape were my top 2 flavors.

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