The Untold Truth Of Russell Stover

It's not surprising that it was a box of Russell Stover chocolates that Forrest Gump held in his hands when he uttered the now-famous line, "Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're gonna get" in the 1994 Tom Hanks classic (via Russell Stover).  The movie Forrest Gump was pure Americana, and so is Russell Stover, which is now the largest producer of boxed chocolates in the nation. The company, which now also includes Whitman Chocolates, started making candy in 1923 in the Denver kitchen of a man named Russell Stover and his wife, Clara, according to the Russell Stover Chocolate History Page. 

Although Russell Stover was acquired by the Swiss company, Lindt and Sprüngli, its headquarters are still in the U.S., and specifically, Kansas City, Missouri, where the company permanently relocated in 1928. And every ounce of the 90 million pounds of candy the company makes annually is made solely in the U.S. and sold solely in the U.S. and Canada. Of course, most of that you can glean from the company's press release page. What follows is the untold truth of Russell Stover.

The guy who started Russell Stover also started Eskimo Pie

Back in 1921, a Midwestern businessman, Russell Stover, took a pitch from a guy named Christian Nelson who had come came up with the then-novel idea of putting a stick in a brick of ice cream and dipping the ice cream in a layer of crunchy chocolate shell. Stover thought it was a fantastic idea – as long as he could call it "Eskimo Pie." A patent was filed, and a business was born. 

Although you might assume the business was the large-scale manufacturing of Eskimo Pies, that's not actually how things got started. Rather, Stover and Nelson made money by licensing the patent to local ice cream companies to make their own Eskimo Pies, according to Smithsonian Magazine. Needless to say, Eskimo Pies were a huge hit. Unfortunately, the patent did not adequately protect the business from copycats, leading to a mess of costly lawsuits, which led Stover to sell his share of the business in 1923, at which time Russell Stover and his wife, Clara and got busy making chocolate candy. 

Russell Stover helped save relationships on Valentine's Day 2018

For Valentine's Day 2018, the Russell Stover company came up with the kooky but sweet idea of saving the hides of some of the good people of Chicago, Illinois, who had forgotten to make plans for celebrating Valentine's Day with their significant others (via Candy & Snack Today). 

Throughout the holiday, company brand ambassadors gave out free 14-ounce heart-shaped boxes of Valentine's Day chocolates (each containing 23 pieces) – along with coupons redeemable at Walgreens for still more chocolates – to the hapless, the forgetful, and the willfully last-minute gift-givers who happened to be wandering through Chicago's Richard J. Daley Plaza. That's where the aptly named Russell Stover "Valentine's Day SOS Van," happened to be parked. The van was pink, which helped it stand out, according to Confectionery News, which reported that by the end of the day, more than 5,000 boxes of Russell Stover chocolates had been given away.

Russell Stover is committed to putting an end to half-eaten boxes of chocolates

According to the National Confectioner's Association, "86 percent of Americans report that they will share a gift of chocolate and candy with family, friends and loved ones this Valentine's Day, and 87 percent enjoy Valentine's Day chocolate and candy themselves." That's milk-chocolate sweet on so many levels, right? But there is also a darker, largely unspoken truth about boxed chocolate candies, which is that we all have that certain someone in our life who can be counted on to ferret through the whole box in an attempt to snag the one or two pieces that happen to be "their" flavor while leaving the rest picked-over (or with actual bites in them...ahem...you know who you are). 

Many of us had simply resigned ourselves to this wasteful and completely unsanitary practice. But not Russell Stover. In 2016, the company sought to put an end to it by launching bags containing individually wrapped chocolate candies in a single flavor (via Russell Stover).  And sure, we recognize that bags of candy can feel more Halloween than Valentine's Day, but now Russell Stover also offers a whole selection of single-flavor boxes.

Russell Stover is not just about sweetness

When you consider how famous Russell Stover is for its boxed chocolates, it's easy to forget that Russell Stover also makes plenty of candy that isn't chocolate. They even make candy that isn't even sweet, well, at least not at first. We're talking about "sour candy," which many of us associate first and foremost with Sour Patch Kids and SweeTarts, and which is made "sour" via an acidic coating. As much as you may not associate sour candy with Russell Stover, they do, indeed make their fair share. 

In fact, Russell Stover has even sold sour chocolate, as in sour chocolate bunnies for Easter"Russell Stover is looking to change your idea of a traditional chocolate bunny...by offering something new: a colorful, white-fudge bunny that is hiding a secret sour flavor!" reported Simplemost during the lead-up to Easter 2020. Russell Stover made the sour chocolate bunnies in Iddy Biddy Bunny size (as shown), as well as three-ounce bunnies, and one-ounce eggs. While it doesn't seem that the company is currently offering sour chocolate candy at this time, some it is still available on Amazon, and we probably shouldn't rule out the company coming up with newer and even weirder sour candy going forward. 

Russell Stover takes its corporate responsibility seriously

Since being acquired by the Lindt & Sprüngli group in 2014, Russell Stover has made a company-wide effort to increase its commitment to corporate responsibility. That includes actively seeking to reduce the environmental impact of its operations and to ensure the best possible work environment for its employees (via Russell Stover). It also includes partnering with five of the world's most prominent chocolate and candy companies for the purpose of helping consumers to make educated choices when it comes to purchasing and consuming candy, according to a 2017 press release from the National Confectioners Association.

Russell Stover committed to the partnership and its goals in 2017, along with its global partners, Mars Wrigley Confectionery, Nestlé USA, Ferrero, Lindt, Ghirardelli, and Ferrara Candy Company. The partnership is committed to offering individually wrapped products that come in sizes containing 200 calories or less and ensuring that by the end of 2022, 90 percent of the brands' top-selling items will have packaging that lists nutritional info on the front.