Ye Olde Pepper Candy, Massachusetts

Salem is much more than witches. On the sweeter side, America’s oldest candy company is still serving up age-old recipes. It all started when an English woman, Mrs. Spencer, was stranded after her ship broke down near Salem in 1806. With no other place to go, she and her son built a home here.

Her despair turned into a lifetime treasure still enjoyed today when her neighbors learned she could make candy. They pooled their money together and bought her a barrel of sugar. That barrel was the first of many when her confectious talent was discovered. She first made the “Salem Gibralter” which is also the first candy sold commercially in America.

She started her business by selling candy on the steps of a church but she soon picked up speed after buying a horse and wagon to reach more people. When Mrs. Spencer passed, her son took over the company and eventually sold it to John Pepper. He expanded the business by adding more candies like the Blackjack, a stick candy made from molasses.

It was now the late 1800’s and the first Burkinshaw went to work for the Pepper Company as a candy maker. The Burkinshaw family later purchased the Pepper Company and all their original recipes, including the ones crafted by Mrs. Spencer. The Burkinshaw family is now in it’s fourth generation and they say it will stay in the family for years to come.


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