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Oliver's Candies

September 20, 2022 - 12:40am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oliver's Candies, batavia, news.

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Oliver's Candies celebrated its 90th anniversary on Saturday.

PreviouslyAt 90, Oliver's Candies remains a 'sweet business' that continues to expand

Photos by Howard Owens

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September 16, 2022 - 12:00pm


Oliver's Candies is celebrating 90 years in business! We will have food vendors (The Red Osier, Los Compadre's, Pub Hub Coffee), face paintings, kid's games, bounce house, wine tasting with Autumn Moon Winery, State Troopers, Genesee County Sheriff with K9 Unit, the Batavia Animal Shelter, table raffles and 50/50! Proceeds from our table and 50/50 raffles will be donated to the Batavia Animal Shelter! Click here for more information on the day's events.

*The first 150 in-store purchases will receive a FREE Oliver's Swag Bag*.

Top Donors:

  • Sweet Lee's Bakery
  • Sweet Life Country Store
  • Bounce House Of Batavia
  • Red Osier
  • Eli Fish
  • Batavia Downs
  • Liberty Pumps
  • Center Street Smoke House
  • Autumn Moon Winery
  • Wright Beverage
September 15, 2022 - 12:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oliver's Candies, batavia, business, notify.

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Joe Oliver in 1939

If not for the Great Depression, Joseph Boyd Oliver may never have left his home in Pennsylvania for Rochester, and then wander into Batavia looking for work and finding instead an opportunity in the small town. 

The opportunity: Turn a family tradition of making blanched peanuts into a business.

To blanch a peanut, you start with raw peanuts -- which Oliver obtained in Buffalo -- boil them in water for three minutes, then dip them in cold water before removing the red skin.  It's time-consuming, tedious work.

Batavians really went for the stark white peanuts, and Joseph and Edna Oliver found that they had started a real business with growth potential. So they looked for other ways to please the locals' unabated craving for snacks, adding peanut clusters to their repertoire and making their concoctions in their Montclair Avenue home.

"No, I had never made any candy before," Oliver said in a 1939 interview. "I learned it all the hard way. There were so many headaches with it, I couldn't begin to tell you what they were.  We just kept going, trying until we got what we wanted."

Blanched peanuts and peanut clusters were the beginning of Oliver's Candies, now in its 90th year. Oliver's will be having a birthday celebration Saturday at the store at 211 West Main St., Batavia.

Joe and Edna moved their business to that location in 1937, renting a house from Sheriff Forest Brown. They sold candy in the parlor and lived upstairs. Eventually, they bought the house and expanded the business until it took over the entire residence.

By the 1950s, Oliver's was selling candy in all 48 states.

Harold Oskamp acquired the business in 1960.  In 1977, he sold it to Dick Call, Bob Call, and Alvin Scroger, then owners of Genesee Farms. 

That ownership group sold Oliver's in 1998 to John Quincey, father of Jeremy Liles, the current owner.

When his parents asked Liles, whose background was in digital publishing, to get involved in the business, how could he say no? Of course, he couldn't.

"I mean, it's candy, it's retail, it's sweet business, really, you have no better words to pick there," Liles said.

Oliver's still makes candy the way Joe Oliver insisted it be made, Liles said -- real ingredients, the original recipes, no cutting corners, and as a result, the business has continued to grow.

Online ordering has given Oliver's a global reach. Liles has been able to expand the wholesale business since opening a plant in Elba, and that northern location also gives Oliver's a second storefront in the county.

It's no wonder that a business born in the Depression has weathered all kinds of economic storms, a world war, and even a pandemic.

"We're doing just fine. It's not like you don't have the generic brands of candy out there, Walmart, Tops, whatever. People's tastes have honed down. People want specialty coffees. They want specialty desserts. People are going to different places looking for these things," Liles said. "I think that's what's helping us tremendously because we are a specialty. We provide unique flavors. We make it fresh. It's made with butter and cream. We're not adding preservatives. It's not being shipped off to some warehouse and then sitting on a shelf forever. It comes from Elba, our factory six minutes up the road, and it's on our shelf ready for the customer."

One of the secrets of the success of Oliver's is employee loyalty.  From the time of Joe and Edna, employees have tended to stay with the company not just for years, but for decades. 

Bill Betteridge started with the business in its early days and made candy for 52 years. Ronald Drock, one of the former master candy makers, worked for Oliver's from the 1950s into the 1990s. The current master candy maker, Doug Pastecki, has been with Oliver's for 26 years.

In the top photo are long-time employees:

  • Diana Cutitta (started 1983) - store associate/cashier
  • Doug Pastecki (started 1995) - master candymaker
  • Anna Liles (started 1999) - giftware associate
  • Jeremy Liles (started 2001) - owner
  • Julie Heale (started 2002) - packing line worker
  • Mary Graham (started 2004) - enrober line worker
  • Megan Palone (started 2006) - general manager
  • Alec Frick (started 2014) - assistant candymaker

Not pictured is Beth Diegelman, hand dipper/decorator who started in1980).

"I guess, for the most part, my family, the families before us, we try to take care of the people who work for us. We're all a family. We try to treat everybody as a family. We're not a big corporate-backed store. We're just a locally owned business and, like anybody else, trying to survive each day," Liles said. "We had some great years of growth and we tried to take care of our employees during those times, and in turn, our employees take care of the business during tougher times, so it really becomes a complete family. Obviously, I couldn't do any of this without them. They are the backbone of this business."

Liles said he's proud to be at the helm of Oliver's as it marks 90 years in business, both for the stability such longevity represents, and the strength of the company to adapt to changing times.

"I love doing this," Liles said. "It's exciting. It doesn't get boring. That's the cool part about it. There are always changes and obviously, in the environment around us, there are changes. Social media, for example, has really been a change. You have gotta be so careful with it. It can help you or it can tear you apart. But that's where, if we keep striving for customer service, then the reviews online will stay five stars, and that's the way we want it to be. I mean, it's all about quality products and quality service. That's why I don't want to outgrow our britches, per se. We need to keep it real."

September 12, 2022 - 5:00pm


Oliver's Candies is celebrating 90 years in business! We will have food vendors (The Red Osier, Los Compadre's, Pub Hub Coffee), face paintings, kid's games, bounce house, wine tasting with Autumn Moon Winery, State Troopers, Genesee County Sheriff with K9 Unit, the Batavia Animal Shelter, table raffles and 50/50! Proceeds from our table and 50/50 raffles will be donated to the Batavia Animal Shelter! Click here for more information on the day's events.

*The first 150 in-store purchases will receive a FREE Oliver's Swag Bag*.

Top Donors:

  • Sweet Lee's Bakery
  • Sweet Life Country Store
  • Bounce House Of Batavia
  • Red Osier
  • Eli Fish
  • Batavia Downs
  • Liberty Pumps
  • Center Street Smoke House
  • Autumn Moon Winery
  • Wright Beverage

 

July 28, 2022 - 9:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oliver's Candies, batavia, art, news.

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Local artist Michelle Cryer is painting new murals on the fence at the south end of Oliver's Candies' parking lot.

Each mural is a reinterpretation of a classic work of art. 

"The idea is to take famous works of art and change the focus of the piece to be products from Oliver's," Cryer said. "So 'Jelly Belly Night' -- that's Vincent Van Gogh's "The Starry Night." This is Picasso's "Child with a Dog" and I'm painting "Child with a Sundae."

Among the other artists to be featured are Banksy, Frida Kahlo, and Keith Haring.

"This next one is going to be Palmer Hayden's "Dreamer," Cryer said. "He's an African American artist. Instead of 'Dreamer' it's gonna be 'Sweet Dreamer,' and it's going to have candy in the stream bubble."

The murals will also be educational, Cryer said.  She's going to add QR codes so people can pull up links to the original works of art and learn more about the painting and the artist.

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June 15, 2022 - 3:00pm


Click here for Oliver's Candies! Or click here for Sweet Life Country Store - We've got Father's Day treats covered!

June 4, 2022 - 9:00am

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The chance to wed two great flavors was also an opportunity to bring two local companies together to develop a new product that helps both mark their business anniversaries, said Jeremy Liles, owner of Oliver's Candies in Batavia and Elba.

Hence, Oliver's Candies and Eli Fish Brewing Company have collaborated to bring Genesee County its own local version of beer brittle -- peanut brittle with a beer base instead of water to give the candy an added flavor dimension.

"I like the collaboration amongst businesses, and with this being our 90-year anniversary, I thought it was a fun project," Liles said. "I love Eili Fish and eat there often and those guys are great over there, so that's what I liked about it, just the whole collaboration idea and experimenting with something new, and introducing something new to our customers."

Master candy maker Doug Pastecki said he and Liles have been fascinated with the idea of beer brittle since reading several years ago about a collaboration in California between a candy company and Anchor Steam Brewing.  At the time, there was no local brewery, and using a mass-produced beer wasn't appealing so the idea got shelved.  As Oliver's 90th anniversary approached, Pasteck and Liles were casting about for a new product idea when the trade magazine re-ran the beer brittle story.  With Eli Fish coming up on its fourth anniversary, it seemed like a perfect time for the two companies to work together.

"We got together, we picked up the beer and we got it right in the first shot," Pastecki said.

The beer is a sweeter beer with a complex malt flavor, "Bad Bad Le Roy Brown," an Eli staple.

Malt, sugar, and peanuts go great together, Pastecki noted, and of course, peanuts are often served in bars so that aspect was also a natural fit.

That doesn't mean there wasn't some R&D involved in the process, said Adam Burnett, master brewer for Eli.

"When you just eat a lot of candies, drink a lot of beer, and figure out what goes well together, that's the fun part," Burnett.

Burnett said he was also energized by the opportunity to collaborate with a local legendary company, and from an industry he hasn't previously worked with.

"I definitely have a bit of an MO for doing collaborations by any means necessary," Burnett said. "I think it raises both brands. Every other collaboration I've done has been with breweries, which is a lot of fun for me, but this is outside my wheelhouse. I got to learn about what's going on here. Getting to learn about the history of Oliver's and getting to take part in something for a big anniversary for them is special for me. At Eli Fish, we're the new kids. It's nice to be taken into the old guard a bit."

The beer brittle is being sold at both Oliver's Locations -- Batavia and Elba -- as well as at Eli Fish.

Photos by Howard Owens.

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November 22, 2021 - 5:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oliver's Candies, batavia, news.

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Santa Claus made his annual visit this weekend to Oliver's Candies in Batavia.  There will undoubtedly be many happy children come Christmas morning.

Photos submitted by Oliver's.

Top photo: Aurora Friesema & Lily Harder gave Santa a big hug.

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Avery Nelson expressed her wishes to Santa.

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Nate, Alana, and Kyle Mlyniec with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus.

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First Santa visit for four-month-old Emmalynn Staub.

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Oliver’s employees: Heather Cole, Renee Chapell, and Elizabeth Rindell.

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Julie Heale with her granddaughter Rosalea Heale holding a bunny from WNY Tiny Petting Zoo.

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Kennedy Pedraza, age 6, holding a bunny from WNY Tiny Petting Zoo.

March 16, 2021 - 1:13pm

Above, a clutch of gleaming Golden Prize Eggs, each containing a special note inside.

Photos and information from Matt Landers:

The Kiwanis Club of Batavia is excited to offer a modified version of its annual Easter Egg Hunt for the community to come together and enjoy.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the typical Easter Egg Hunt could not be safely run, but the Kiwanis members couldn’t stand the thought of canceling the event outright for a second year in a row due to coronavirus.

So this year’s event takes one of the fun aspects of the annual event -- the coveted Golden Prize Egg -- and makes it the focus of the hunt.

Starting on Friday, March 19th, there will be one Golden Prize Egg hidden each day in Centennial Park for the kids to look for. One egg will be hidden each day through March 31st.

The eggs will be hidden at different times to allow for families with different schedules to walk the park looking for the eggs. Each egg will entitle a child to an Oliver’s Chocolate Bunny as with past years' winners.

There will be a note inside each egg with instructions on where to gather for a picture with the Easter Bunny and to collect the prize chocolate bunny.

Winners must bring this note with them to collect the prize chocolate bunny. There will be a limit of one Golden Prize Egg per family.

The Kiwanis Club is very happy to provide this safe and healthy activity for families to participate in over the course of two weeks.

We encourage the whole family to come out and spend time together in the park, but since this is an Easter Egg Hunt for kids, prizes will be restricted to kids 12 and under, just as in the past. That’s not saying a big brother or big sister can’t help though!

Happy Hunting!

Below, the bewhiskered Easter Bunny with some Golden Prize Eggs.

Below, Batavia Kiwanis Club members and their furry, big-footed pal with some Golden Prize Eggs.

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