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About Gardners Candies

Our story began in 1897, when sixteen-year-old James “Pike” Gardner opened a small candy store in downtown Tyrone, Pennsylvania. Pike started out by selling candy, popcorn, and peanuts, using a horse-drawn wagon to transport his products to local fairs and carnivals. From humble origins, Pike’s small local business would become the sixth-largest producer of chocolate in the United States.

In the early days of Gardners Candies, Pike’s innovation would lead to a product that became an integral part of the confectionery industry. He teamed up with a local cigar-box maker and together, they created square boxes decorated with satin and ornate bows and frills. These unique candy boxes were eventually crafted to form the shape of a heart. This development led to the iconic heart-shaped box that is recognized worldwide as a symbol of Valentine’s Day.

Pike passed away in 1951, and his daughter Nancy Black and her husband David Black began running the business. The couple expanded into manufacturing to streamline the production of Gardners Candies products. As the business continued to grow, David Black worked on creating a product that combined rich, creamy peanut butter with sweet chocolate. In the early 1960s, he teamed up with the Penn State University Food Science Department to perfect this blend, and the result was a treat that would become the famous Original Peanut Butter Meltaway®! During this time, Penn State University students began selling the Peanut Butter Meltaway bars to raise funds for their fraternities and sororities . This would be the start of the Gardners Candies Fundraising program, which today helps hundreds of organizations across multiple states raise funds by selling delicious Gardners Candies products. Along with fundraising, Gardners Candies also offers a Business & Custom Gifting program that offers customers the quality products they love along with unique customization opportunities.

Throughout the years, new store locations began to open across Central PA so that communities across the state could enjoy the treats they love from Gardners Candies. Today, customers can shop at Gardners Candies stores in Huntingdon, State College, Altoona, DuBois, Indiana, Kittanning, and Johnstown, along with the flagship store in downtown Tyrone. Gardners Candies can also be found at over 100 retailer locations across 3 states, including places like grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, and more! In 1997, Gardners Candies was acquired by Bill Sarris of Sarris Candies in Canonsburg, PA. Since joining the Sarris Family Company, the two organizations have worked in tandem to expand production while continuing to provide the same remarkable product quality and customer service that reflects Pike’s vision of excellence. The Gardners Candies company was started from the dreams and hard work of a young man in Tyrone, PA, whose philosophy of serving the community and making the best even better has led to over 125 years of sweetness.

Take a virtual tour of our Tyrone Candy Store, Museum, and Ice Cream Parlour!

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