Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
By Janice Dunnahoo
Special to the Daily
Taking a look back — whether you were old enough to remember, or have seen it in older movies — remember the nostalgia of the soda shops, of gentlemen suitors bringing candy and flowers to their girlfriends, or even more recently, remember the song, “The Candy Man?” For those of you who know that song, it will probably be going through your head all day now.
Today, we’re going to take a look back at some of Roswell’s famous and not so famous candy stores and candy peddlers from the days past.
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B. H. Luff came to Roswell around 1908. He was rated as an expert candy maker. In 1915, he decided to open an establishment for himself. He bought the confectionery store — which was later the location of Woolworths — from the Thompson Brothers that year. Later, he leased the building at the corner of Fourth and Main streets and remodeled it to become Luff’s, with a very well equipped soda fountain and confectionery.
About the same time, he leased the new corner shop, property was bought on Seventh near Main Street, and a small factory was built to take care of the extra retail and wholesale business, along with a bakery.
His business also contained an ice cream plant, which supplied not only retail stores but smaller stands and was shipped up and down the valley and even to the mountain shops and stands.
Luff’s candy factory produced pail specialties, as well as chocolates and bonbons. These were even shipped to Texas.
Luff, having been in the business for 20 years, decided that the manufacturing end was a good job for one man, so he sold part interest to E.J. Robertson, who took over the retail business of Luff’s.
John Kipling, who was from England, opened one of the first confectionery businesses in Roswell during the year 1907. There had been a soda fountain or two installed before that time, and candy had been sold by various business firms. Kipling’s shop was the first attempt to create a successful confectionery business in Roswell.
Kipling had been a frontier saloon owner in Pecos, Texas, when Southern Pacific Railroad opened that area laying tracks. He came to Roswell and operated two different saloons before going into the confectionery business. According to lore, it is said that when Kipling married a handsome young woman, some years younger than himself, he went out of the saloon business because he did not want to be engaged in a business that his wife could not enter and help operate.
The Kipling Confectionery became famous all over the Southwest for its high-quality candies. The most popular of the various candies were the Kipling Fours.
These Fours were first made by Charles Walker, an itinerant candy maker from Trinidad, Colorado. Kipling obtained the recipe and — as long as the business operated — they were the most popular candy sold. Kipling once said that during the Christmas season of 1923, he sold more than 2,000 pounds of Fours alone.
Kipling owned and operated the business until 1924 when he sold it to Warswick (first name is not known) and Robert Dakens. Dakens soon took over as owner and operated the business. During the 1930s and ‘40s, this establishment was a popular place for locals with a soft drink soda fountain featuring milkshakes, malts and sundaes. A Majestic self-playing piano was replaced with a jukebox, offering swing tunes — the favorite musical genre among the local youth at that time — assuring the business of the teen crowd. The store business grew, and it also offered a new and unique feature: carhops who served patrons parked in automobiles in front of the store. Fountain treats were served on a tray which attached to the car windows on the doors of the automobiles.
A successful mail-order business soon followed as the little candy square known as Fours became famous.
The Kipling’s enterprise was sold in 1947 and a new structure was built, which was occupied by Woolworth stores.
For many years, St. Andrews Episcopal Church made and sold the candy known as Fours, along with some other sweet delicacies, though the Fours remained the favorite.
Recipe for the famous Fours:
1 qt. heavy cream
1 lb. butter
1 lb. brown sugar
1 pt. dark Karo syrup
2 lbs. chopped pecans
In a heavy pot, pour half the cream, add butter, Karo syrup and sugar.
Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, slowly pouring in the remaining cream, as the boiling continues.
Continue stirring and cook until a candy thermometer reads 230° or a soft ball stage.
Remove from stove and stir in pecans, then pour the mixture into a buttered, shallow rimmed, baking pan. Allow this to sit overnight, then cut into small squares, and dip into chocolate.
Makes 5 pounds.
Edmond G. Pratt, also known as “Candy Man,” sold candy off the street corner at Third and Main streets, in front of the J.P. White building. It is not known whether he made his own or sold it from one of the above-mentioned confectionery shops. He must have been pretty handy with “recipes” however, as he was later arrested for selling booze. According to the Roswell Daily Record, May 30, 1932, front page:
“Pratt Arrested on Liquor Charge
“E. G. Pratt, Roswell, peddler of candies, and a familiar sight on the streets of the city, was arrested late yesterday by Sheriff John C. Peck, Deputy Dude Peck, and Chief of Police Frank Young. The charge was possession of liquor and possession with intent to sell.
“Pratt has been watched by the officers for some time, in the belief that he has been bootlegging liquor to minors. When raided yesterday at his home in the western part of the city, he was found to have a collection of bottles containing beer, whiskey and wine.
“Officers say Pratt has claimed to be insane and that an insane man cannot be indicted. They declare, however, that his insanity is only played.”
St. John Candy Co.
Roswell, New Mexico. The only information found on this is what is written on the side of the truck. Vehicle is dated between 1915-1917.
402 N. Main, Roswell, New Mexico, no information found.
When was the last scoop of ice cream served, the last package of Kipling’s Fours weighed and boxed, the last swivel of the bar stool taken? When were the beautiful marble countertops removed? Was the last skillfully crafted soda in a frosted mug, made with scoops of ice cream, chocolate syrup and soda water, or the real cherry soda, replaced with self-serve Big Gulps from your local convenience store?
I miss those days, I miss those times, even the drug and dime store soda fountains, with the tableside jukebox. Why did they have to go? Such sweet memories.
Janice Dunnahoo is chief archivist at the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico Archives. She can be reached at 575-622-1176 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.