The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

September 13, 2013

Historic candy company marking 100th birthday

WEBB CITY, Mo. — The Minerva Candy Co. will celebrate its 100th birthday today at 12 S. Main St., and by all accounts, she’s looking good for her age.

“This is a neat place,” said David Blankenship on Wednesday afternoon after he and his wife, Julie, and daughter, Laurie Crocker, had finished their lunch. “I like how they have preserved the old-time look of it. A lot of older buildings are falling down or burning up. This has really helped the revitalization of the downtown and our community.”

The company’s most recent owners, Tom and Mary Hamsher, completed renovations on the store a year ago.

Ironically, the only thing that remains on the “to do” list for the Hamshers is to begin making the hard candy — including one- and two-foot candy canes for the holiday season — that earned the company its reputation decades ago.

“We’re still waiting on that last piece of candy equipment,” Tom Hamsher said Wednesday. “It should arrive this week, and hopefully we can start making hard candy for Christmas.”


John and Gus Klenkious opened the Minerva Candy Store in 1905 in St. Louis. They built the Webb City store in 1913. It was part of a group of stores in Joplin and Carthage that they sold to Jim Mallos in 1921.

Jim’s son, Gene, assisted him in the candy store. Gene married Jo Anne in 1945 and they had two sons: Jimmy and Richard, or “Duke,” Mallos. Jim Mallos and Gene both died in 1981, leaving Jo Anne to run the store. She died in 2008; only Duke survives.

The marble walls, mirrors, octagon tile floor, tin ceiling and antique cabinets are all unique and original to the candy store. In the candy kitchen, the marble tables, where generations of Mallos candy makers cooled fudge, still serve as the foundation for candy-making operations.

The Hamshers purchased the building and its contents from Duke and Tobi Mallos in 2011, along with the deli building next door that was a bookstore (circa 1910), a café (circa 1940s) and a bakery (circa 1980s and ’90s). Their intention from the beginning, Tom Hamsher said, was to once again produce hard candy.

The couple did much of the interior renovation work themselves, hauling out 14 tons of debris — all the while trying to bring the building up to modern standards while also preserving the historic look of it, including the pressed tin ceilings and original cabinetry and counters.

The Hamshers also restored the gas-fired cookers, huge copper kettles, and candy making equipment, and installed a glass window to allow guests to view the candy manufacturing.

But their operations have far exceeded just candy making. Early in 2013, they began putting on Saturday night music events.

“We’ve had groups, we’ve had individuals,” Tom Hamsher said. “Some play Christian rock, some play bluegrass or rock and roll. We had one guy come in and just want to play the piano.”

It’s been a popular addition to the downtown, where by 7 p.m. not much else is going on, he said.

“We’re booked for musicians four to five weeks out,” Tom Hamsher said. “And we usually get quite a good crowd.”

The new owners also added the option for groups to reserve their eatery for meetings, reunions and holiday parties, which also has been popular.

Mary Hamsher created an ice cream counter stocked with several flavors of her hand-dipped homemade ice cream. They installed a coffee bar with espresso and gourmet coffee drinks, and contracted with Signet Coffee Roasters in Pittsburg, Kan., to develop a signature flavor.

They began cranking out batches of confections — chocolate and peanut butter fudge, chocolate-dipped peanut clusters, and the like.

And they began selling branded souvenirs and gift items, like coffee mugs and T-shirts with the new Minerva logo.

What’s next?

“Things have kind of taken on a life of their own,” Tom Hamsher said of their rapid introduction of new facets of their business. “I guess what we’re focused on as the priority is to have a grand celebration on Saturday, and then we’ll get down to the business of turning out hard candy in time for the holidays.”

Text Only
Top Stories
  • r041814capbus4.jpg Funding shortfall could hinder public transportation in Southeast Kansas

    For the past two years, Pittsburg State University sophomore Travis Cook has been using public transportation to get to and from his classes. He began using the bus his freshman year, when he didn’t have a vehicle to drive even to the grocery store — which is said to be the case for many who use the service.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bruner denied change of venue for murder trial

    Circuit Judge Gayle Crane has denied a change of venue for a defendant charged with fatally shooting an assistant football coach at Missouri Southern State University. The attorney for Jeffrey Bruner claimed pretrial publicity as the reason for seeking a change of venue in Jasper County Circuit Court.

    April 18, 2014

  • Russell family sues city, Joplin police

    Family members of a teenage girl whose suicide a year ago brought them into conflict with police officers and emergency medical technicians are suing the city and the Joplin Police Department. Kevin and Julissa Russell and their son, Brant Russell, are the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in Jasper County Circuit Court. The action filed on the Russells’ behalf by Kansas City attorney Andrew Protzman names the city, the Police Department and Officers Austin Wolf and Tyler Christensen as defendants.

    April 18, 2014

  • Kansas Regents stick with social media policy

    After directing a committee to study a controversial social media policy and make recommended changes, the Kansas Board of Regents appears to not be changing the policy at all. It’s left some in academia baffled by why it appointed the work group in the first place.

    April 18, 2014

  • Britain Easter Pilgri_Cast.jpg SLIDESHOW: Good Friday observances around the world Around the world, Christians are coming together in observance of Good Friday, which they believe was the day Jesus was crucified. Here are some photos from Good Friday commemorations around the world.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missouri House votes to expand sales tax exemptions

    Pizza parlors, doughnut shops and even convenience stores all could be in line for a tax break on the food that they make and sell as a result of a measure moving through the Missouri Legislature.

    April 18, 2014

  • 041714 School safe rooms4_72.jpg Joplin school district readies community safe rooms for storm season

    Thousands of Joplin residents will soon be able to stay safe during storms in some of the region’s newest shelters. Community safe rooms at Cecil Floyd, Stapleton, McKinley and Eastmorland elementary schools, which double as gymnasiums, and Junge Field, which will double as a field house, are expected to be open within the next few weeks, according to Mike Johnson, the school district’s director of construction.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 041714 Treble Makers.jpg Carl Junction ‘Treble Makers’ to sing at Springfield Cardinals’ stadium

    Next month, 75 Carl Junction sixth-grade students will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Hammons Field before a Springfield Cardinals game. And with more than 600 parents, family members and other residents planning to attend, the May 3 event has been dubbed “Carl Junction Day.”

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Public hearing set on posed TIF district

    Financial details of a proposed new tax increment financing district for the Silver Creek Galleria area will be discussed in detail at an April 28 public hearing, members of the city’s TIF Commission were told Thursday. Chris Williams, a TIF attorney representing the city of Joplin, told the panel the Thursday meeting was intended to walk commissioners through the public hearing steps.

    April 17, 2014

  • Volunteer projects spark two bills in Jefferson City

    Bills moving through the Missouri House and Senate were inspired by a volunteer project in Carl Junction last year that stalled over a question of whether those volunteers had to be paid prevailing wage under Missouri law. “This bill is very simple. All it says is if someone is a volunteer, they won’t be forced to be paid prevailing wage,” state Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, told lawmakers during a hearing on his bill last week.

    April 17, 2014