Who Invented Jolly Ranchers


Originally made in Golden, Colorado the Jolly Rancher Company initially made ice cream, candy, and chocolates that were sold at several stores in the Denver area. Founded in 1949 by Bill Harmsen, the idea of the Jolly Rancher was to create a fun candy environment that would bring joy in more ways than just the flavor of a good candy. It is he and his wife, Dorothy, who are credited with the creation of this juicy hard candy.

Today the Jolly Rancher brand is produced by the Hershey Corporation.

Bill Harmsen Was Also Know For Collecting Art

Although Bill and his wife were known for their candy making prowess and the Jolly Rancher candy was developed to help with slow winter sales of ice cream, it wasn’t long before these hard candies were selling more than their ice cream. They often created the candies in their family barn and would hand out dozens of samples to kids on field trips. The whole reason behind these efforts was that they wanted to create a warm, Western environment for their new hit candy.

Over the years, the Harmsen’s also became known for the amount of Western art they would collect over the years. The entire art collection was donated to the Denver Art Museum and its value has never been disclosed, but it includes pieces from some of the biggest names in Western art, including Russell, Remington, Wyeth, and Henri.

It isn’t just Western art that the Harmsen’s had a passion for, however, because they also loved the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. To encourage others to have a love for nature as well, they donated much of the land that has become Golden Gate Canyon State Park.

Just How Big Is This State Park?

Golden Gate Canyon State Park is 12,000 pristine acres of forests, meadows, and lots of hiking trails. At the scenic overlook in the park, over 100 miles of the Continental Divide can be seen. Over the years, it has been used for numerous weddings and corporate gatherings. You can go camping on the grounds that the Harmsen’s were responsible for donating, do snowshoeing in winter, and this part was the first to offer yurt guest houses.

If you ask the Harmsen’s kids about what they think about Jolly Ranchers, you’ll get some mixed thoughts. The memories of having a home smelling like candy and having candy stored in bedrooms is enough to turn some children off, while others still purchase Jolly Ranchers whenever they can.

What is incredible about the Harmsen’s effort with the Jolly Rancher brand is that at the peak of their personal production, they were cooking 1 million pounds of candy per week, right there in their barn. Every Halloween, the interstate would become a log jam as people tried to trick or treat at their factory. Eventually purchased by Beatrice Foods, the story of the Harmsen’s is one that speaks of the American dream. With one good idea, a dream can come true.

Candy Consumption Among Children