It is unknown the exact date that Pease’s Candy was founded. Martin A. Pease Sr. (Great-Grandpa Pease) was making candy and selling it out of his home in Canton, Ohio. He then moved to Elgin, Illinois and continued to sell candy from his home. At some point around the turn of the century, there was a Pease’s Candy store in Elgin that shared a split-level building with a funeral home.
Mr. Pease was an executive with Eureka Vacuum Company and was transferred to Bloomington, Illinois around 1917. In 1918, he opened a candy store with his sons. He had 6 sons and a daughter. His store in Bloomington was located at 206 North East Street. It was later torn down to make way for the original State Farm Insurance headquarters. During the depression, all of his sons were trying to support their families from the candy business.
The youngest son Martin A (Noonie) Pease, Jr. moved to Springfield in 1930 to open his own shop. Noonie was able to befriend the necessary people to purchase black market sugar. Sugar was in short supply and was being rationed at this time. His original store was in a two-story house on the corner of Third Street and South Grand Avenue. The candy kitchen was in the basement and the shop was on the first floor with the living quarters on the second floor. In November 1935, Martin Pease opened a second candy shop in downtown Springfield at 223 South Sixth Street. This shop gave the public a chance to see the candy making process. The store closed less than a year later. Mr. Pease once said that during the early days, he had to make two sales each day. The first would buy the ingredients for tomorrow’s production, while the second would buy food for dinner that night.
Mr. Pease was also an accomplished golfer and was Springfield city champion twice in the 1940’s. He also was a founding member of the Oakcrest Country Club.
In December 1953, the factory was moved to a small building on Highland Avenue and a store was opened at the corner of Laurel and State Streets. Soon thereafter, a second store was opened in the Laketown Shopping Center on Stevenson Drive.
Beginning in 1948, Noonie’s nephew, Bob Flesher, was hired to assist in both the production and sales portions of the business. As the business grew, help was needed in the production facility. In 1959, Don Anderson, who had been delivering dairy products to the candy company, was hired to become a candy-maker. In 1975, Don and Bob bought the business from Noonie, although did Mr. Pease stayed on as an assistant to Don for several more years at the factory.
In 1981, Pease’s had outgrown the Highland kitchen and a new one was opened in part in the old Sangamo Electric building on Eleventh and Converse. This kitchen was then moved to the opposite side of the Sangamo complex and a retail store was added in the front of the factory on North Ninth Street. In 1990, the store was moved to the Sangamon Center North Shopping Center and land was purchased at the Industrial Park South complex for a new factory.
The factory houses all manufacturing operations, as well as warehouse space. While the kitchen is very modern, the original recipes are still used on a daily basis. Many of those recipes were originally developed and published in three candy-making books written by Martin A. Pease, Sr. in the early 1900’s. Mr. Pease also invented the first candy-making thermometer that is used by candy-makers today.
Don’s son, Doug, started in the business in 1985 as a candy-maker and Bob’s son, Rob, came into the business in 1986 to help with the retail and wholesale part of the business. Doug is second generation and Rob is fourth generation in the business. Bob sold his share of the business to the others in 1992 and stayed on until his death in February 2000. Doug and Rob bought out Don’s share of the business in 1999. Don still assists with special candies and during the busy holiday seasons.
In November 2004, Pease’s opened its 5th location in Springfield. The newest location also adds a show kitchen across from the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum complex. Pease’s has approximately 30 wholesale accounts in Illinois and eastern Missouri.
Now in our fifth generation, we are looking forward to continued sweet success in the candy business.