Artist Profiles Header Graphic
Paul Revere

Massachusetts Bay Trading Co.
Artist Profiles

Ye Olde Pepper Companie: America's Oldest Candy Company

Ye Olde Pepper Companie: America's Oldest Candy Company

Bob Burkinshaw is the president of Ye Olde Pepper Companie, a company that traces its roots back 200 years. The company is now in its fourth generation of the Burkinshaw family, but the origins go to back to Salem, Massachusetts where in 1806 an English woman by the name of Spencer was shipwrecked and in destitute condition. Her neighbors learned that she knew how to make candy and got together to buy her a barrel of sugar. Little did they know that this single act of kindness would produce the "Salem Gibralter", said to be the first candy made and sold commercially in America and transported around the world by sea captains and their crew.

Mrs. Spencer initially sold her candies from wood firkins on the steps of the First Church. As the candies became more popular she purchased a horse and wagon (now displayed in Salem's Peabody Essex Museum) to peddle her confections wearing the long attire of the day with sunbonnet to shield her eyes. The image of her sitting proud and straight in the open wagon guiding the horse to neighboring towns became the company's logo.

When Mrs. Spencer died her son carried on the business until about 1830, when he sold the company to John William Pepper and returned to England. Under Pepper, the company prospered for many years. During the later 1800's the first Burkinshaw went to work at the Pepper Company as a candy maker and eventually met his future wife there.

At the turn of the century, the Burkinshaw family purchased the Pepper Company and all their original recipes including those originated by Mrs. Spencer herself. The same high quality standards set by Mrs. Spencer and John Pepper are maintained by the Burkinshaws for their confections today.

Massachusetts Bay Trading Company is pleased to offer the candies of Ye Olde Pepper Companie.