2016-01-01 / Dishing

Altoona Company Still Turning Out Sunny Yellow Mallo Cups

Anne Quinn Corr

Fun and games. If there is any month that needs more of both it’s January — the hunkering down time of year. The time of year when if the sun shines at all it’s a wan version of itself. The time of year when we are yearning for summer’s sun and carefree fun. The time of year when a gloomy January day seems like a good time to impulsively grab a candy bar while waiting to check out at the grocery store. And maybe what you will grab is that locally made, sunny yellow-wrapped Mallo Cup, the one where you not only get the candy goodness you’re seeking but also a play money coin card with its sweet promise of untold treasures.

Mallo Cups, made by Boyer Candy in Altoona, started during the Great Depression in the Boyer’s kitchen to supplement the family income. Bill Boyer was the candymaker, specializing in fudge and raisin nut clusters. His mother, Emily, and sister, also Emily, did the wrapping of the finished product and his brother, Bob, sold the candy door to door. The family business venture was so successful that soon they expanded their product line to include something revolutionary at the time — the first “cup candy.” Since the early 1900s, marshmallow makers had been selling the white fluff in tins as penny candy, but the Boyer brothers thought it would be delicious covered in chocolate and had been experimenting to make it work. It proved to be too soft to withstand the enrobing process. That is until Mom Boyer suggested that they put it all in a paper cupcake holder, and the first cup candy came into being.

The Mallo Cup, for the uninitiated, is a whipped marshmallow crème center surrounded by coconut and milk chocolate. After Mallo Cups proved to be popular, the company experimented with other soft center cup candy — Minty Mallo, Bunch O’Nuts, Jamboree and Fluffernutter — but no other variety caught on like the classic Mallo Cup. Other Boyer innovations include the Peanut Butter Cup and the Smoothie Cup, a peanut butter cup coated with butterscotch.

For nearly 30 years, the Boyer brothers ran the company, selling in

1969 when they retired to American Maize, a corn syrup manufacturer. Fifteen years later, Anthony Forgione purchased the company and ran it until he died in 2001. Currently, the company is owned by Forgione’s widow, Deborah, and their children: Anthony, Jonathan and Danielle. Under the Forgione family, the Boyer Company saw the acquisition of seven more candy companies — Barton’s, Schrafft’s, Winter’s liqueur-filled chocolates, Kron Chocolatier, Miss Saylor’s sugar-free candy, Hills Fundraising Division and Geoffrey Boehm chocolates. They also introduced the Triple Twist Pretzel, a salty butter pretzel covered with peanut butter and then coated with milk chocolate, and the Dark Chocolate Mallo Cup, which debuted in 2010, which makes it easy to follow current medical advice to include phytonutrient-rich dark chocolate in your diet.

Deborah Forgione is a longtime Mallo Cup enthusiast who grew up in Brooklyn buying the candy at the corner store and collecting the signature coin cards. She explained the backstory on the coin card program, which began in 1942. “It’s the oldest consumer rebate in the confectionary industry. A box of chocolate was the original redemption. We also know that there was evidence of prizes like children’s tea sets back in the late ’40s, and at one point they changed the play money from coins to letters spelling Mallo Cup where the ‘M’ was the hardest card to find,” she says.

Many candy eaters have collected the coins over the years but how many have turned them in? According to Forgione, the redemption rate is five and one-half percent, versus a national average of about two percent. “Seventeen percent of our redemptions are for 1,000 points or more. Our largest redemption check ever went out eight years ago to a man in Ohio. His play money points filled a fish tank and earned him a payout of $450,” says Forgione.

Get in touch with your inner child this month by eating the gooey deliciousness of a sunny yellow Mallo Cup and dreaming about what you might win as you unwrap the candy. Maybe you will be lucky like John Condrasky, the Pittsburgh-area native who is currently living in Piedmont, S.C. “One day when I was 10 I got the biggest jackpot of all — a token worth all you needed for the payout. That was my lucky day!” waxed Condrasky, who visited the plant in Altoona a couple of years ago with his wife, Marge, and purchased T-shirts and other Marty Mallo merchandise to keep the joy of that big win in mind. The outlet store at the plant sells all of the candy brands and many novelty items that celebrate the retro nature of this iconic Pennsylvania treat. Local Altoona residents are regulars at the 17th Street outlet store, shopping there for seconds that are sold at reduced prices.

And if you still have some of those coin cards somewhere in the attic, dig them out and redeem them for fabulous prizes. Every 500 points is worth a $2 check or you can spend your points on a variety of items. A complete prize catalog is online at •SCM

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