|In 1884, Charles H. Miller and his three sons founded a small business manufacturing and selling homemade candy. The building where they began making their candy had a notable past -- it was the Paul Revere House in Boston's Faneuil Hall/North End area. (Revere, who in 1775 made the ride from Boston to Lexington alerting the countryside that the British were coming, lived in the house with his family until 1800.)|
After their father’s death, the Miller boys split the responsibilities of the family business. Charles N. Miller took charge of the manufacturing and wholesale operations while his brothers ran the retail store. In 1914, after a fairly successful business was established and the Charles N. Miller Company was one of some reputation, they began manufacturing Mary Janes. The molasses and peanut butter candy was named for their favorite aunt, Mary Jane.
The Miller Company tried several variations of the legendary Mary Jane mixture, but none could compare with the original. Over the years, Miller introduced several other candies, but none enjoyed the success of Mary Jane. Eventually, Mary Jane came to be the only candy produced by the Miller Company.
One of the early candy pieces made by Miller was the Dearo, a penny candy that was a chewy chocolate piece with a peanut butter center. The name was borrowed from a political group that the Honorable John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald called his “dear old North Enders.” John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald was a congressman and mayor who lived in the North End. The Fitzgerald home was close by the Revere House. In 1890, the Fitzgerald home was the birthplace of Rose, wife of Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy, and the mother of President John F. Kennedy.
In 1990, NECCO (New England Confectionery Company) purchased the Stark Candy Company. As a part of Necco, the Peanut Butter Kiss and Salt Water Taffy, as well as the original Mary Jane lines have seen tremendous growth. Necco, under the Mary Jane name, has become the number one producer of Peanut Butter Kisses in the country.
Many adults can remember reaching up to the candy counter and seeing the charming Mary Jane girl that adorned every piece of this delicious and nostalgic candy. For 85 years, the legendary Mary Jane name has been synonymous with children, young and old alike