Those heart-shaped boxes of Elmer chocolate that will be given to sweethearts this Valentines Day got their start in the small southeast Louisiana city of Ponchatoula.
The production line rolls out more than three million pieces of chocolate candy each day for distribution across the country. Elmer Chocolate’s manufacturing plant in Ponchatoula is a major supplier of seasonal chocolates. You’ve probably received one of their heart-shaped boxes of chocolates as a gift, or tasted their popular heavenly hash and gold brick eggs.
chocolate making goes high tech
The company recently underwent a 43-million dollar modernization of its Ponchatoula factory. That has allowed the candy-maker to ramp up its production to nearly 50-million boxes of cholate a year. The production line churns out 400 boxes every minute. Today’s increased volume is done without the candy being touched by human hands. Huge vessels cook the caramel and cream fillings. Machines insert those mixtures into chocolate shells.
The manufacturing upgrades help improve food safety and efficiency, according to the owners of Elmer Chocolate. The goal is to turn out pieces of chocolate that are shiny and untouched with no scratches. Elmer President Robert Nelson says it’s a great presentation that makes people feel special.
a Brief history of elmer chocolate
Elmer Chocolate Company began with Christopher Henry Miller, who immigrated to the United State from Germany in 1845. After working as a pastry chef, Miller opened Miller Candy Company in New Orleans in 1855. The name Elmer comes from Miller’s son-in-law, who joined the family candy-making business. The company name changed to Elmer after Miller’s death in 1902. Today’s owners, brothers Robert and Michael Nelson, are third-generation candy-makers. Their grandfather bought the business in 1963.
The Elmer Chocolate Company does not offer tours of its Ponchatoula operations.