UNION, NJ — What candy is put together in Union? Only Smarties have the answer.
Smarties has been a Halloween favorite for nearly 75 years. They come in six colors/flavors — white/orange cream, yellow/pineapple, pink/cherry, green/strawberry, purple/grape and orange/orange — randomly mixed together and neatly packaged. Smarties have only 25 calories per candy roll and are free from most known allergens — milk, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy and sesame. They are also gluten free, which means they are safe for people with celiac disease. And they are vegan, containing no animal products, making Smarties a tasty and cruelty-free choice.
Smarties Candy Company has two factories, one in Union and another in Newmarket, Ontario. The companies are not open to the public and the candy is made 24 hours a day at both facilities.
They’re currently run by three co-presidents, Jessica Dee Sawyer, Sarah Dee and Liz Dee, fifth-generation candy makers and granddaughters of the late Edward Dee, who founded Ce De Candy Inc. in 1949.
Edward Dee’s first factory was in Bloomfield. He moved the company to Elizabeth in 1959 and finally to Union in 1967. In January 2011, the company changed its name from Ce De Candy Inc. to Smarties Candy Company.
In 2017, Smarties Candy Company became a women-run business when the three granddaughters were appointed co-presidents.
In 2022, Smarties Candy Company celebrated the inaugural National Smarties Day on Oct. 2. The date was chosen as a tribute to Edward.
The fact that Smarties is still going strong after all this time is a testament to the quality of the product, which has not changed through the years.
“They want the same candy they wanted as a child,” said Liz Dee. “It’s nostalgic. It brings people a small amount of joy. I personally love the product. It’s enjoyed by generations. We’re not going to change the formula.”
Smarties was a part of Liz Dee’s life. She’s been eating the candy since she was a child. “You think it’s normal to have candy everywhere,” she said. “I didn’t understand how special it was. I got to see how the candy was made as a kid.”
Liz Dee began a summer internship in middle school working at Smarties. After she completed her graduate degree, she returned to Smarties. She has a bachelor’s degree in government and French from Wesleyan University and a master’s degree from New York University in media culture and communication. Liz Dee is also a member of the Humane Generation with the Humane Society of the United States. She lives in New York with her family.
She doesn’t have children but her two co-presidents do. And while they are not trying to put pressure on anyone, they do hope to keep it as a family business and keep Smarties in Union.
“Not many people realize Smarties is right around the corner,” she said. “It’s an important part of our history and an important part of our community. We produce over a billion candies right here in Union and it’s enjoyed by everyone.”
To learn more about Smarties, visit: https://www.smarties.com/.
Photo Courtesy of Smarties Candy Co.